Live From Summit 2016: Spurring Innovation in Districts Through Partnerships

May 13, 2016

This interactive session was moderated by Scott Benson, Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund. Joining him as panelists were six leaders representing three unique examples of districts that have engaged in partnerships to spur innovation.

  • Model providers for middle school math
    • Joel Rose, Co-Founder & CEO of New Classrooms Innovation Partners
    • Alyssa Whitehead-Bust, Independent Consultant and former Chief Academic and Innovation Officer, Denver Public Schools
  • Fresh start schools
    • Nancy Bernardino, Founding Principal of Solar Preparatory School for Girls
    • Michael Koprowski, Chief of Transformation and Innovation, Dallas ISD
  • Whole-school redesigns (project-based learning)
    • Lydia Dobbins, President & CEO of the New Tech Network
    • Kathy Gomez, Superintendent of Evergreen School District (CA)

Through a series of fireside chats followed by a breakout Q&A, this session explored what district leaders were looking for in an innovation partner, why they chose the partner they did, and how that relationship developed and evolved over time.

  • As Chief of Transformation and Innovation at Dallas Independent School District, Mike Koprowski said a big part of his job is to help Choice Schools like Solar Prep navigate the central office. This includes not only finding ways to support these schools, but also helping them get the autonomy they need to operate their innovative models.
  • Joel Rose described how he worked with Denver Public Schools (DPS) for several years before a partnership was solidified. He was able to convince the Alyssa Whitehead-Bust and other members of the leadership team at DPS that there was demand for his middle school math program after he had the opportunity to present directly to six principals, five of whom expressed an interested in adopting it … as long as the central office supported their choice.
  • Lydia Dobyns of New Tech Networks described how she was able to work closely with Superintendent Kathy Gomez to customize an approach that fit her district’s needs. This included adapting the New Tech model to elementary school, which had not yet been done.

These examples, while not exhaustive, provide a glimpse into ways district leaders might invite innovation into their districts. While certainly not the only way, partnerships can serve as a vehicle to invite new ideas and practices into schools.