Indianapolis Public
Schools joined The Mind Trust and Mayor Joe Hogsett this week to celebrate the third cohort of Innovation School Fellows.
These experienced and passionate education innovators will spend the next year
or two researching and developing models for proposed Innovation Network Schools.


Five schools – led
by a total of nine fellows – were selected for the third cohort in this
strategic initiative to build the capacity for strong Innovation Network
proposals and school leaders. Interested parties submitted a statement of
interest and an extensive application before being invited for interviews with
a diverse selection committee.


The 2016 Innovation
Network Fellows are:



  • Shy-Quon Ely II & Brooke
    This pair
    co-launched the Tindley Summit Academy on the city’s eastside. It was the
    second highest performing elementary school among Mayor-sponsored charter
    schools on the state’s reading exam in 2015, with a pass rate of 88%. Ely and
    Beavers will work to launch an elementary school with an accelerated curriculum
    focused on neuro-scientific instruction and learning, staff and community
    collaboration, along with a holistic emphasis incorporating physical,
    nutritional and mental wellness.
  • Kelly Herron & Chrystal Westerhaus-Whorton:
    Herron is a
    founding staff member of Avondale Meadows Academy and has served as curriculum director,
    assistant principal and principal. Westerhaus-Whorton has been a teacher and
    assistant principal with the Tindley Schools network. Their proposed
    school would be an extension of the elementary school model at Avondale Meadows
    Academy – a middle school emphasizing college preparation.
  • Emma Hiza: Hiza is the co-founder and
    executive director of Thrival Academy, a study abroad public high school
    providing students from underserved communities access to personalized and
    culturally immersive education. The Indianapolis Thrival Academy would be a
    one-year study abroad experience serving students in Grades 10 and 11.
  • Tommy Reddicks & Kyle Beauchamp: These leaders of the Paramount School of
    Excellence (PSOE) on the city’s near eastside have led their school to “A”
    state accountability grades with an innovative, environmentally-focused
    curriculum. Their proposed new school would serve Pre-K through 5th
    grade, emphasizing academic rigor, data-driven approaches, environmental
    education and meaningful community engagement.
  • Earl Martin Phalen & Nigena
    experienced education leaders will plan a new middle school replicating the
    successful Phalen Leadership Academies
    model already in
    place at two existing schools in Indianapolis – including Phalen Leadership
    Academy at Francis Scott Key School 103 (PLA@103), an IPS restart school. In
    less than a year, PLA@103 saw a 20% increase in enrollment as more families
    chose to move their students into the new school model.



“I can’t express
how excited I am,” IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee told the 2016
fellows at this week’s announcement. “We have proven leaders in this group who
have shown they know how to move the dial when it comes to student


There are four
pathways for schools to become part of the Innovation Network:


  • Charter: An existing charter organization
    proposes a school housed in an unused IPS facility, or as a co-location with an
    existing IPS school.
  • Conversion: Leadership of an existing IPS school
    initiates a proposal for Innovation (Cold Spring School and George H. Fisher
    were just approved as our first Conversion schools)[link to Conversion story]
  • Restart: District leadership initiates a
    strategic turnaround initiative at a chronically low-performing IPS school.
  • New: A brand new school is launched as part of the Innovation Network.



Innovation Fellows
spend up to two years developing their school model while receiving support in
the form of salary, office space, technical assistance and mentorship from The
Mind Trust. Once the incubation period is complete, fellows must present their
school design to the IPS Board of School Commissioners and receive approval
before launching an Innovation Network School.