Press Releases | April 29, 2016

The Mind Trust Names Third Round Of Education Fellows To Help Transform Struggling IPS Schools

Indianapolis – The Mind Trust, joined by the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Mayor Joe Hogsett, today announced the third cohort of Innovation School Fellows, talented education innovators who will design, launch and operate “Innovation Network Schools” to replace chronically low-performing schools in IPS.

Innovation Network Schools are public schools made possible by recent state laws allowing school districts to convert existing district schools into new, autonomous schools exempt from most district and state practices and regulations. In exchange for this autonomy, the schools are held to the highest academic standards. While autonomous in daily operations, they remain as district schools, approved and held accountable by district school boards.

The Mind Trust partnered with IPS and the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation to create the Innovation School Fellowship to supply a pipeline of talented educators to launch and run these new schools. The new fellows – who will launch their schools in either 2017 or 2018 – are:

Shy-Quon Ely II & Brooke Beavers (IN). These educators co-launched the Tindley Summit Academy on the city’s eastside, which 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%. Even with a new, more rigorous state exam, the school surpassed the state average for English and outperformed other schools with similar student populations.

Kelly Herron & Chrystal Westerhaus-Whorton (IN). Herron is a founding staff member at the successful Avondale Meadows Academy on the city’s near northeastside and has served as curriculum director, assistant principal and principal, improving its state rating from a “C” to three consecutive “A’s.” Westerhaus-Horton has been as a teacher and assistant principal with the Tindley Schools network in Indianapolis. During her four years as a teacher, 90% of her students were proficient on ISTEP+, featuring a 100% pass rate in 2013. As an assistant principal, her school earned an “A” and was one of the highest performing charters in Indianapolis.

Emma Hiza (CA). Hiza is an educator, curriculum designer and program director who has worked extensively in education and public health both domestically and overseas. Her work includes classroom instruction, curriculum design and teacher training in the U.S, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Kenya. She has worked in public education in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC and internationally with Partners In Health, the Asian University for Women and the McKinsey Social Initiative.

Tommy Reddicks & Kyle Beauchamp (IN). These leaders of the innovative and successful 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. PSOE’s STEM-centered approach has resulted in housing a state-of-the-art planetarium and fielding an internationally competitive student robotics team. Its distinctive wind turbines, operating urban farm and greenhouse exemplify the school’s environmental interests.

Earl Martin Phalen (MA/IN) & Nigena Livingston (MI). These experienced leaders will open a new middle school replicating the successful Phalen Leadership Academies (PLA) model already in place at two existing schools in Indianapolis – an IPS Innovation School on the city’s far eastside and a charter school on the near northside – which already have redefined public education for hundreds of local families. At the charter school, while the vast majority of students live below the poverty line, 100% of its third graders passed the state’s reading exam. The Innovation School, in under a year, saw a 20% increase in enrollment as more families chose to move their students into the new and improved school.

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 must earn approval from the IPS Board of Commissioners to officially launch the school.

This third cohort will join fellows selected in 2014 and 2015 who have opened or are about to open new schools in IPS. The first cohort resulted in PLA@103, one of the state’s first Innovation Schools, which saw a 20 percent increase in enrollment already this year. From the second cohort of fellows, Kindezi Academy will open in IPS this fall, and two fellows currently are designing new schools for launch in 2017.

IPS is the first district in the state to launch Innovation Networks Schools.

“The Innovation School Fellowship is an exciting opportunity for educators to design and propose new schools,” said Dr. Ferebee. “We appreciate the investment of The Mind Trust in another talented group of leaders seeking to serve IPS students and families. We look forward to continued partnership with the Mayor’s Office and The Mind Trust to support fellows throughout the planning process.”

“The collaborative relationship between our Office of Education Innovation, the Indianapolis Public Schools and The Mind Trust speaks to our commitment to continued transformation and innovation in public education,” explained Mayor Hogsett. “We are proud of the impact our efforts are having on students and will continue to build upon our national brand as an incubator for educational thought leaders.”

Selection Process. Applicants from around the country included current principals and teachers, leaders of charter school networks and other professionals who have the expertise to run a successful organization. To select the fellows, The Mind Trust called upon a distinguished panel of local and national education and community leaders to review applications, interview candidates and recommend the final class to The Mind Trust board of directors for approval.

“Innovation Schools already are starting to have a positive effect on student achievement, parental involvement and educator empowerment in Indianapolis,” said David Harris, founder & CEO of The Mind Trust. “We are excited that so many talented and experienced educators are joining this community effort to be the city that truly transforms public education so that it benefits every Indianapolis family.”