Press Releases | May 12, 2015

Partners name new education fellows charged with remaking struggling IPS schools

Fellows to design ‘Innovation Network Schools’ to replace underperforming schools

The Mind Trust – joined by Mayor Greg Ballard and Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee – today announced its second round of Innovation School Fellows, one of the nation’s unique educational partnerships to advance public education.

The Mind Trust, in partnership with IPS and the Mayor’s Office, created the Innovation Schools Fellowship to create a pipeline of talented educators and entrepreneurs to design, launch and operate "Innovation Network Schools," autonomous schools within IPS that can replace chronically underperforming or underused schools in the district.

The new 2015 fellows are (full biographies and brief descriptions of each school are attached):

· Sheila Dollaske, current principal of IPS’ Key Learning Community, is a career educator who brings years of hands-on experiences in urban schools in Indianapolis and Chicago to the fellowship.

· Mahmoud Sayani is a seasoned executive leader with a diverse experience in the private and social sectors, including operating schools in Kenya, leading an international relief agency and 17 years in senior marketing and project management positions in the technology industry.

· Shanae Staples & Kevin Kubacki are local educators who bring to the fellowship a proven track record of innovation and school success as founders of the Enlace Academy on Indianapolis’ westside.

Fellows receive salary, benefits, office space and technical assistance from The Mind Trust while they spend up to two years developing their school model. They then seek an "Innovation Network" designation from the IPS Board to officially launch their school.

From last year’s fellowship round, the Phalen Leadership Academy (PLA) is opening Indiana’s first Innovation Network School this fall in the Francis Scott Key School (IPS #103) on the city’s far eastside. The Mind Trust will begin accepting applications for 2016 later this year. Over the next three years, the partnership will help launch nine Innovation Network Schools within IPS.

"Innovation Network Schools will transform public education in Indianapolis," said Mayor Ballard. "Through this partnership, we are connecting the world’s most innovative educators to our most vulnerable public schools, and we are strengthening entire neighborhoods within our city."

"This is a signal that schools in IPS will not exist in perpetuity and that we will take action on those that are consistently underperforming," Dr. Ferebee said. "Employing innovative solutions is an attempt to avoid repeating what we already know is unsuccessful. Student achievement is paramount, and we’re excited about what these new opportunities might bring."

About Innovation Network Schools. These groundbreaking schools were made possible by a 2014 state law giving IPS the authority to create these high-quality, autonomous public schools within the school district.

At each site, a school leader or management team operates the school under a contract with IPS. Operators also have access to district buildings at no cost. What’s more, they are exempt from IPS administrative practices and many state regulations, giving them the freedom to hire staff, design their own curriculum and extend the school day and/or year to best serve the needs of students.

"This is an extremely important moment for Indianapolis and its largest school district," said David Harris, Founder & CEO of The Mind Trust. "Innovation Network Schools have the potential to remake public education across our community, and this cohort of fellows have the vision, creativity and expertise to create successful schools."

Selection Process. Applicants included current principals and educators, leaders of charter school networks and other professionals who have the expertise to run a successful organization.

To select the new round of Innovation School Fellows, The Mind Trust called upon a distinguished panel of local and national educational and community leaders to review applications, interview candidates and recommend the final fellows to The Mind Trust board of directors, and eventually to the IPS School Board. Members included:

· Miriam Acevedo Davis, president & CEO, La Plaza Indianapolis
· Diane Arnold, president, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) Board of School Commissioners
· Sekou Biddle, vice president of advocacy, UNCF (National Office)
· Beth Bray, program director, Walton Family Foundation
· Mariama Carson, Fellow, The Mind Trust; former principal, Snacks Crossing Elementary School
· Christine Collier, founder, IPS’s Center for Inquiry (CFI) Schools; principal, CFI School 84.
· LaNier Echols, secretary, IPS Board of School Commissioners
· Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, superintendent, IPS
· Tihesha Guthrie, principal, Arlington Woods Elementary School (IPS #99)
· David Harris, founder & CEO, The Mind Trust
· Jason Kloth, deputy mayor for education, City of Indianapolis
· Dr. Wanda H. Legrand, deputy superintendent for academics, Indianapolis Public Schools
· Rev. Dr. Clarence Moore, pastor, Northside New Era Church
· Elizabeth Odle, director, Bridges To Success, United Way of Central Indiana
· Ariela Rozman, CEO, TNTP (The New Teacher Project); board member, The Mind Trust