A MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
AND BOARD CHAIR
Gale D. Hulme, Ed.D, CEO/Executive Director
Loren M. Starr, Board Chair
Discomfort. Transition. Transformation. More than just words, these are key stages in the deep learning our partners experienced in FY2016. In this year’s annual report:
- Learn about how GLISI’s approach to training and consulting intentionally promotes discomfort and disrupts the status quo to stimulate growth;
- Listen to our partners discuss how working alongside GLISI spurred new ways of thinking and engaging in the work of school improvement;
- Hear about how positive, systemic changes are taking root in partner districts as a result of their long-term investment with GLISI.
Today, more than ever, educators are under pressure to achieve results and achieve them now. GLISI understands, however, that attaining real, meaningful change takes time. Our services are not intended to provide quick fixes for what are often enduring, systemic challenges in our partner districts. Rather, they are designed to help our partners successfully traverse the long, winding road of school improvement, pinpointing the key issues hindering their progress and leveraging the appropriate tools and personnel to achieve and sustain positive student outcomes.
While we proudly celebrate the learning and transformations in organizational and leader practice among the 34 districts we supported in FY2016, we humbly recognize that the road toward achieving our mission is also long and winding A recent survey suggests that the pressures of teaching and leading are growing, as nearly 50% of all new Georgia teachers report being likely to leave the profession within five years. Moreover, two-thirds of Georgia’s teachers are uninspired to encourage their own students to enter the profession. GLISI’s work is to inspire teachers, leaders, and school systems and build their capacity to transform the lives of the students they serve. Through our partnerships, we create opportunities for deep learning that lead to transformations in adult behavior and practice, and improvements in school and district conditions that benefit Georgia’s students.
We invite you to explore the vignettes and videos included in our annual report and learn more about the deep learning our partners experienced in FY2016. We believe you’ll be inspired and moved by their accounts of how deepening their learning with GLISI pushed them beyond their comfort zones, initiated shifts in their attitudes and behaviors as leaders, and established lasting, systemic change in their districts.
Deep Learning pushes leaders
Beyond their comfort zones
Growth is uncomfortable. Any parent who has nurtured a childthrough the teething stage can tell you: growth, while necessary to thrive over the long haul, can be painful, frustrating, and at times disconcerting.
For teachers and leaders, growth and change often feels this way: painful, frustrating, and disconcerting--especially for those who have become accustomed to methods of teaching and school leadership that have served them and the students they support well over time. However, just as children need strong teeth to absorb key nutrients as they grow, our school systems need "teeth"---tools, resources, and new ways of organizing that ensure teaching and learning systems grow to become relevant, engaging, and effective for 21st century learners.
This evolution begins with the very teams of teachers, principals, and district leaders that GLISI supports. Our work is to nurture teams who are committed to growing teeth. We push teams to embrace a change process that can, at times, be painful, frustrating, and disconcerting. Our facilitators and coaches are trained to disrupt the status quo and challenge long-held institutional beliefs and attitudes.
They work side by side with our partners, with the aim of stretching and encouraging leaders them to think differently about what effective leadership looks like. We work side by side with our partners while, nurturing their growth by providing opportunities for meaningful practice and feedback.
The fruits of our partnerships in 2016 illuminate how a certain level of discomfort and frustration in the short term have enabled success over the long haul. Learn more about GLISI's approach to nurturing growth, the impact of our support on our partners this year, and how you can support our work in 2017 below.
"One of the most valuable aspects of working with GLISI is their ability to get you to look at yourself with a magnifying glass, to push you to dig deep and examine your beliefs and behaviors and better understand what drives you as a leader."
-Brian Otott, Associate Superintendent
Paulding County School District
Deep Learning Leads to Changes
Attitudes, Mindsets, & Behaviors
Developing new habits. Adopting new mindsets. Engaging in new behaviors. These are all difficult tasks. And though we sometimes convince ourselves that making these types of changes is simply a matter of deepening our focus on what needs to change or exercising more willpower, rarely is that the case. Seeing real change in our lives requires not only commitment, effort, and time, but also support and encouragement.
With every election cycle or new wave of education policy, it seems like educators are asked to change something about the way they do business. Rarely, however, are they provided the time, tools, and support necessary to facilitate that change. GLISI’s services are designed with each of these key elements in mind.
Beyond just pushing our partners out of their comfort zones, we provide consistent support and encouragement to help adopt new ways of thinking, not only about themselves as leaders but also about the work of school leadership. As one participant from Bulloch County’s Aspiring Leaders Program noted, “GLISI really helped us see the big picture. They introduced mindset shifts that pushed us to think beyond our own context and consider the needs of the entire school community.”
Helping our partners grow to see the “big picture” of school improvement is one of the most rewarding outcomes of our work. As they deepen their understanding of the improvement process and broaden their view of what they can accomplish as leaders, they’re much better positioned to see opportunities where they once saw obstacles and recognize their own potential to lead change in their districts, schools, and classrooms.
"We’ve seen a tremendous shift in our teacher leaders’ attitudes about school improvement. Rather than it being handed from the top down, they’ve assumed ownership of the plan. It’s theirs! They’re not being told what to do. What they’re doing is because they believe it will make a difference in school achievement."
-Jean Triplett, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
Morgan County Charter School District
Deep Learning Leads
to Lasting, Systemic Change
We have all set New Year’s resolutions that, within a few short weeks, get thrown out along with the wilting holiday decorations. Our intentions are good, and we feel fiercely committed to making a positive shift in our lives—but the conditions that surround our commitment go unchanged.
School improvement and leadership development initiatives often fall short of achieving their desired outcomes because commitment to change isn’t enough. Achieving lasting and systemic change in schools and communities also requires a willingness to examine—and improve—the conditions that have contributed to maintaining the status quo—or, in some instances, a decline in performance. GLISI services are focused on getting beyond surface-level change. We design deep learning experiences and support transformation in school and district climate, culture, and conditions that result in lasting change.
For many of our long-term partners, the seeds of deep learning that were planted in previous years flourished into meaningful results in FY2016. In Paulding County Schools, for example, Superintendent Cliff Cole report that our multi-year partnership focused on developing and implementing an Aspiring Leaders program yielded a deep bench of highly qualified leader candidates in the district.
“GLISI has done a phenomenal job supporting the development of our prospective administrators, and we have seen the impact on our schools and students as these individuals move into leadership roles in our system. A partnership with GLISI isn’t easy work, but its productive work, and as a result, our leadership bench—for now and for Paulding County’s future—is strong.” Stephanie Johnson, Georgia’s 2016 Principal of the Year, also attributes her enduring leadership success to the deep learning she experienced in GLISI training years ago. “The GLISI imprint is evident in how I’m leading Maynard Jackson High School today. Not only do I have a changed mindset about leadership, but I also still refer to GLISI tools and protocols to guide my work.”
It’s these stories, and others like them, which reinforce the role GLISI seeks to play in leader and school transformation: long after educators leave our training, and long after our partnerships come to a close, systemic change endures.
"Our partnership with GLISI helped Wilkinson County Schools become more aligned and going in the same direction. When leadership changes occur, I’m confident our school improvement work will roll on because it is research-based, and it is data-driven."
-Aaron Geter, Superintendent
Wilkinson County School District
Since partnering with GLISI in 2013 through the SLP grant, Carroll County Schools' graduation rate has increased by 11.8 percentage points.
In FY16, over half of Paulding County Schools' Aspiring Leader Program graduates were promoted to leadership roles at the school or district level.
Through our Implementation Consulting partnership, Morgan County Schools achieved double-digit Lexile score gains at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade levels.
Deep learning requires
a sustained focus and
commitment to improvement
The success of GLISI’s school and district partners and the students they support is made possible by the generous support of our contributors. Individual donors, corporate sponsors, government agencies, and philanthropic foundations are all critical to the fulfillment of our mission. Our donors understand that achieving GLISI’s mission requires sustained commitment. That deep learning requires time. Thank you for your financial contributions, which make it possible for GLISI to design and implement leadership development interventions that do more than scratch the surface of school improvement.
GLISI's mission is to develop world-class education leaders who advance student achievement and organizational effectivness.