Fueling Innovation in Education

Last fall, SchoolWorks had the opportunity to be part of a foundation-supported, long-term, grass-roots effort to transform a city’s public schools: Kauffman Foundation’s Great Schools Visits initiative. The Kauffman Foundation cares deeply about the schools in Kansas City and is excited about the possibility of galvanizing community engagement and action to strengthen them. The Kauffman Foundation has partnered with SchoolWorks to facilitate visits to successful schools in Boston during the 2015-2016 school year.

Great Schools Visits are designed to support engagement and action of the Kansas City community in improving the city’s district and charter public schools. Participants represent numerous organizations and come to this work from a variety of perspectives, yet all share the same goal: to become part of a larger, grass roots effort to effect change in Kansas City schools. To do this, participants in Great Schools Visits engage with successful schools around the country to observe what is working in public schools serving a similar population. Ideally, the visits will provide inspiration as well as practical strategies to bring home to the educational conversation in Kansas City. The Kauffman Foundation then brings folks together from these tours at “Meet Ups” to ensure continued engagement and motivation for change. They plan to continue this effort for the next three to five years.

SchoolWorks led three Great Schools Visits thus far and plans to host one more in the spring. The primary purpose of our visits is to observe a variety of successful schools in action and to learn more about the educational landscape in Boston. Great Schools Visits hopes to showcase a variety of school contexts, missions, programs, and grade-spans. So far, we have visited both charter and district schools, including successful turnarounds and restart models. Each tour also includes a guest speaker to provide context and insights on Boston’s educational landscape.  Previous speakers include Rahn Dorsey, Boston’s Chief of Education, and Meg Campbell, Executive Director of Codman Academy Charter School and Boston School Committee member.

It has been powerful to bring together people with so many different experiences, perspectives, and roles in education – including teachers, school leaders, parents, clergy, police officers, lawyers and more – to engage in informed dialogue about what works in urban schools. SchoolWorks is proud to be a partner with Kauffman in this work. Keep your eyes on Kansas City!


This post was originally available on the SchoolWorks blog here.



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Piel is a project manager at SchoolWorks. She designs protocols for various school and district evaluation processes and leads school quality reviews in districts throughout the country. In addition, Piel provides leadership coaching to school leaders, and designs and implements program and grant evaluations.