As many of you are aware, the Calhoun ISD is currently charged with providing technical assistance and support through MI Excel, MDE’s Statewide System of Support, to ISD/ESAs and local districts. While we believe we partner with all of you to support increased student achievement, we officially partner with Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, Eastern UP Intermediate School District and the Gogebic Ontonagon Intermediate School District. We are grateful to these amazing organizations for their support, expertise, and partnership. We would love to expand our official partnerships so please don’t hesitate to reach out if your ISD/ESA would like to explore this possibility.
As you are also aware, the MDE has tasked us with increasing our capacity to provide technical assistance and support in three major areas: Blueprint installation, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), and Comprehensive Needs Assessments. To that end we provide two distinct levels of professional learning in each area that also includes, when requested, support to ISD/ESAs and local districts as they do this work to support increased student achievement. We have posted additional positions to increase our capacity and have been fortunate to have hired such highly skilled and talented people who expressed interest in and the desire to support this work on a statewide level.
The following is the current list of MI Excel Statewide Field Team Members at Calhoun:
Kathy Mohney, Associate Director
Beth Brophy, Assistant Director
Heather Heitsch, Blueprint Production Specialist
Anne Bohl, Coordinator of Operations
Cynthia Kelly, Coordinator of Finance
Dr. Deborah Piotrowski, Coordinator of Research
Lynn Batchelder, Pamela English, Alecia Hoppa, Heather Stanley, and Dr. Lynda Wood – Area Leaders
Angela Thomas, Lori Pearson, and Chasity Sutton – Coordinators of Professional Learning
Dr. Tanisha Brooks, George Chapp, Julie Farmer, Kendra Feldhusen, Dr. Julie Haun-Frank, Cynthia Hunt, Timm Kelly, Dr. Patricia McCalmont, Bridget Schipper, Sarah Scott, Kwame Stephens, Chelsee Strickland, and Sarah Watson – Facilitators
I can imagine (and have heard) that many of you have questions about what our expanding team means and doesn’t mean. I’d like to take a few minutes to clarify. If this message, doesn’t answer your questions, PLEASE reach out to me and we will have a conversation about your questions and/or concerns. It is very important to me that we are all on the same page and have a shared understanding of what our role is and what our role is not.
Let’s begin with our vision. I shared this in a recent post in BP Installation Central, but perhaps you haven’t had time to read that edition yet or perhaps you don’t subscribe to this blog as you aren’t currently working with a Blueprint installing district.
The MI Excel Statewide Field Team is dedicated to providing local districts, and the ISD/ESAs who support them, with the intense support needed to assist them in systemic reconfiguration for the sole purpose of saving the lives of Michigan’s children. We are committed to this vision and will do whatever it takes to support district superintendents and their teams in this critical endeavor to educate all children and to demonstrate to others that public education is viable and is capable, if it chooses to, of successfully serving all children in a culturally proficient environment regardless of who they are, how they identify themselves, where they come from, or what type of family support they have or do not have.
As the number of districts installing the Blueprint grows, we too must grow in order to increase our ability to support them and you, our ISD/ESA partners, so that districts can be successful in this work. My intent is that team members, who will be intensely trained on an ongoing basis, will be able to assist you in supporting BP installing districts. We do not seek, nor are we interested, in any other role but support to you as an ISD/ESA and to the districts with whom you are working in the area of systemic reconfiguration. Members of this team are charged with hyper focusing on the work of BP installation, BP Leadership Academy and the connections of this work to MTSS and Comprehensive Needs Assessments. As a result, I hope that team members can provide you with an extra layer of support and/or technical assistance needed as you continue to meet the varied and important demands inherent in your work in your ISD/ESA and with your installing districts.
I’d also like to clarify some misinformation.
- The MI Excel Resource Center is not locked down. It is available to anyone who has the link and is now searchable. There are some limits to what we can do with this free resource. In the near future, we will be converting the site to Word Press as this will give us the ability to do some really slick things for you as you use the site, thus making it easier for you to use and navigate.
- The Blueprint Tools and Resources are also not locked down. They are available to anyone who has the link. Those who use the tools are simply asked to register their name, organization, and email address. That request is to protect the department and to be able to understand who is using these tools and resources. Currently, these tools are being accessed by five state departments of education, numerous colleges and universities, and by international subscribers as well. As we continue to study the impact of the Blueprint on systemic reconfiguration, studying the use of these tools and resources is also imperative.
- No one has to adopt the Blueprint and we do not solicit the Blueprint. We only work with local districts and/or ISD/ESAs who request our support and technical expertise.
- No one from this team will be “assigned” to a district and no one is seeking to replace you or your work with a district. Rather, we hope we can provide both local districts (who request it) and ISD/ESAs with an added layer of support specific to Blueprint installation, MTSS, or Comprehensive Needs Assessments.
I would also like to offer some true information that Karen Ruple asked me to share:
- The MDE has tasked this team with increasing technical support and assistance in the areas of Blueprint installation, Blueprint Leadership Academy, MTSS, and Comprehensive Needs Assessments. We work closely with the department in the latter two areas specifically to ensure that our professional learning content and supports are tightly aligned to the direction that department is taking in those two areas.
- We have also been tasked with supporting Blueprint installing partnership districts and their ISD/ESA specifically as it relates to BP installation. In many cases there are other pieces to the partnership agreement that may or may not align to the Blueprint. We do not intend to interfere with those other pieces and hope that our support with the Blueprint can help ease the burden in the other areas as well.
- All districts need to improve their systems in support of their identified schools. Districts who choose to use the Blueprint can benefit from layers of support from both the ISD/ESA and the Statewide Field Team when they desire that level of support. Districts can and should be the one to make this decision there are many districts who choose not to use the Blueprint as well.
- If a district requests our support, we are not in charge of that district. The district is in charge and we only provide the support and technical assistance requested and we will do that while working collaboratively with that district’s ISD/ESA. Again, we are tasked only with providing an added layer of support when it is requested. Currently, approximately 65 districts have requested our BP installation support and about half of those have requested the Blueprint’s Leadership Academy.
I will be communicating on an individual basis with ISD/ESAs to talk with you specifically about and plan with you for how this enhanced level of support can assist you as we strive for seamless, collaborative support of our BP installing districts. Since we began this journey, we have sought only to partner with you and support your work. That commitment has not changed. Our vision is to do whatever it takes to help you and to help your BP installing district(s). Together, we can and we will save the lives of Michigan’s children.
We look forward to supporting you and to continuing great work with you. As the Hazel Park School District says in all of their emails,
With children in mind,