Building Better Schools

These 14 Indianapolis educators will get special training to help them run their schools

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Kyle Beauchamp is one of 14 fellows who will participate in a Relay principal training program.

Fourteen educators from across Indianapolis will have an unusual chance to develop their expertise in school leadership over the next year.

They are the first round of local fellows selected to participate in a principal training program run by Relay Graduate School of Education, a 6-year-old graduate school that emphasizes practical training for educators. The Indianapolis fellows were chosen and sponsored by the Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit.

The fellows will join a one-year program that focuses on using data, creating positive school culture, and teacher and staff training.

We sat down with one of the the fellows, Kyle Beauchamp, to talk about how he got into education. Beauchamp is assistant principal at Paramount School of Excellence, and he will lead a planned second campus Paramount aims to open in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools. For more stories from parents, students and educators, see our “What’s Your Education Story?” occasional series.

Below is Beauchamp’s story, condensed and lightly edited for clarity:

I’m from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan originally. I came from a teaching family originally — grandfathers, cousins, parents were all educators. My grandfather was a 35-year middle school social studies teacher. My grandmother was a music teacher. I feel like it’s in my blood. I’m really fortunate to have a great family of educators, and I don’t think there was ever a doubt in my mind that’s where I was going.

I graduated from Central Michigan and my first job was very unique. It was the place I student taught at in Farwell, Michigan, a small, small community just north of Mount Pleasant, Michigan. I kind of had a hybrid job where I got to do everything — I got to teach. I was also the school’s athletic director.

I developed a love both of teaching and of administration. I had two just outstanding mentors, two people who really helped me become a professional in every way. They really in my opinion got my career off to a solid start. I’ve spent a lot of my career to get to this point just listening to people who’ve done it the right way.

Here are all the educators chosen as fellows:

Lloyd Bryant, director of principal development for IPS

Susan Kertes, principal of IPS Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School 58

Bakari Posey, principal of IPS James Whitcomb Riley Elementary School 43

Andrew Karr, assistant school leader of Kindezi Academy at IPS Joyce Kilmer 69

Kevin Kubacki, executive director of Enlace Academy and Kindezi Academy at IPS Joyce Kilmer 69

Shanae Staples, founding school leader of Kindezi Academy at IPS Joyce Kilmer 69

Casandra McLeod, assistant school leader of KIPP Indy College Prep Middle School

Ellen Reuter, school leader of KIPP Indy Unite Elementary School

Jason Schall, chief academic officer of KIPP Indianapolis

Mariama Carson, principal of Global Preparatory Academy at IPS Riverside 44

Liset Gonzalez-Acosta, dual language and instructional coach of Global Preparatory Academy at IPS Riverside 44

Mari Dandie, instructional coach of Global Preparatory Academy at IPS Riverside 44

Kyle Beauchamp, assistant principal of Paramount School of Excellence

Tommy Reddicks, executive director of Paramount School of Excellence

reasons vs. excuses

Westminster schools loses on appeal seeking higher performance rating

A student at Westminster’s Hodgkins Elementary in 2013.

The state’s quality rating for Westminster Public Schools will not change after an appeal to the Colorado Board of Education Monday.

The board unanimously voted to deny the appeal after minimal discussion mostly criticizing the district for blaming poor performance on minority and disadvantaged students.

“The ‘why’ students are not performing at grade level is an excuse, but what it should do is give us a roadmap to remedy that failure,” said board member Steve Durham. “It’s our job to identify poor performance and further find remedies regardless of the reasons.”

Pam Swanson, Westminster’s superintendent and school board members said the state board members’ comments were ridiculous.

“We have very high expectations,” Swanson said. “Every teacher listening to that comment was disgusted because we know that we have high expectations. We know all of our kids can get there it just takes them longer.”

The district has argued that their annual performance evaluation was not legal because it discriminated against the district’s population of large numbers of English learners, mobile students and those who qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

They also contend the state isn’t making allowances to account for Westminster’s so-called “competency-based” learning model, which does away with grade levels and moves students instead based on when they’ve learned certain education standards. The district believes that by placing students into traditional grade levels based on their age for testing means they aren’t measuring what students are learning.

State education department officials disputed the district’s appeal stating in part that the district has the flexibility to determine student grade levels for testing purposes.

The decision means Westminster now must go through with an accountability hearing where the state board will be required to vote on action to turnaround the district. Proposed plans for that hearing on May 4 have already been prepared.

The meeting was packed by Westminster employees. A crowd of educators from the Westminster district were watching the meeting from outside the boardroom.

Looking for options

State board raised questions over plan for Pueblo schools and management partners

Charlotte Macaluso, right, speaks with Pueblo City Schools spokesman Dalton Sprouse on July 22, 2016. (Pueblo Chieftain file photo)

The Colorado Board of Education on Monday asked Pueblo City Schools and state officials to submit slightly different plans for three struggling schools by mid-June.

While the district already planned to partner with two outside companies to improve student performance at the three schools, the board directed state officials to give the outside companies more of a management role in the next version of the plan.

While the board approved improvement plans for several other schools and districts this month, its request for changes to the plan for Pueblo schools was unusual. It also means that in June the board will have two plans to choose from for a final order.

Board members on Monday asked district officials about the work the district has done in the past few years trying to improve performance with an innovation zone — or a group of schools granted similar waivers from some laws and policies — about leadership changes in the schools and at the district level and about whether there have been any successful “bright spots” in recent years.

Board members also questioned district officials on the role of the external companies, Achievement Network and Relay Graduate School of Education.

Charlotte Macaluso, Pueblo City Schools superintendent said the management companies would not govern the schools.

“They would serve as a partner to identify needs,” Macaluso said.

But board members weren’t sold on a partnership of equals, and directed state officials to create a governance plan outlining how the companies would work with the schools. They also expressed frustration at the lack of a formal vetting process for the companies that would work with the schools. The same issue came up at hearings for Greeley schools earlier in the day.

The three schools include Heroes Academy, a K-8, Risley International, a middle school, and Bessemer Elementary, where barely 9 percent of third-graders passed the state’s English test last spring.

The initial state and district proposals call for the three schools to work with two external companies. For Heroes and Risley, the recommendations also suggest allowing the schools to waive some district and state rules.

Risley got innovation status in 2012, giving it such flexibility. So far, the status has not improved the school’s performance. For Heroes the autonomies would be new.

A year ago, Pueblo City Schools was expected to pose the biggest test of the state’s school accountability system. A dozen of the city’s schools were on the state’s watch list for chronic poor performance on state standardized tests. However, most of the city’s schools came off that list last year.