In
partnership with Mass Insight Education (MIE), Indianapolis Public Schools has created
two Transformation Zones (TZs) this school year. These zones in our West
Learning Community pair a high school with two feeder elementary schools to
create a clear path and consistency in wraparound services for students from
pre-K through graduation. We asked three new Transformation Zone Coaches,
Kristi Spears (KS), Anna Hill (AH), and Gabriel Surface (GS), just what this
innovative approach to school change means for the schools involved, and they
were glad to provide us with some answers.

What is your role? What
are you responsible for?

KS: I am a
Transformation Coach supporting high school math at both George Washington
Community High School and Northwest Community High School.

AH: My official title
is Transformation Zone Coach. My responsibilities are to guide the strategy of
the schools in which I work so that they have dramatic increases in student
achievement. Each school has its own unique structure, and I find a way to work
within that structure so that schools can show high academic growth.

GS: My role will be to
work with the coaches in the Transformation Zones. I will work to ensure the
implementation of IPS initiatives are successful and running smoothly in the
elementary schools. I will work with the coaches to recognize the needs of the
teachers and address them, which will lead to success for the thousands of
children in the TZs.

How is the role
vital to the success of the Transformation Zones?

KS: My role is to
support the building-level coaches at the two high schools in the
Transformation Zones. By targeting a limited number of schools, we are able to
focus in and provide personalized support for each school in our zone. In turn,
we hope to maximize our impact and improve student achievement.

AH: The Transformation
Zones are designed to be protected spaces within the West Learning Community
that will drive dramatic, transformational improvement in student achievement. My
role is to be the conduit for that goal.

GS: Instructional
coaches [like those of us in this role] wear a number of different hats. Their most important job is developing excellent
classroom teachers. This role will hopefully put a focus on that aspect of
their position and lead to highly effective teachers in each of our classrooms.

Why are the
Transformation Zones so important? What’s important for people to understand
about the work going on there?

KS: The Transformation
Zones are important as they are a way to provide targeted support to schools
and to build on the knowledge and capacity of school-based staff.

AH: The Transformation
Zones are important because they allow for unique support that can be catered to
the needs of a specific school. Many schools have some needs which are common
to all; however, each school has its own unique set of needs. The TZs provide a
support for those unique needs on a much more personal level. By having fewer
schools to focus on, we are able to provide support that is tailored to the
needs of the school.

GS: The Transformation
Zones will hopefully become a replicable model for change in IPS. The
Transformation Zones give the schools a more direct link to the district. The
TZ Coaches and directors will be in schools on a daily basis providing
assistance and giving guidance on IPS initiatives. With this direct access, the
district initiatives will lead to huge academic gains in the seven TZ
schools.

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