Press Releases | May 1, 2019

The Mind Trust selects 32 local school leaders for national principal fellowship

INDIANAPOLIS—(Wednesday, May 1, 2019)—The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit, has announced its third cohort of Indianapolis school leaders that will attend Relay Graduate School of Education’s school leadership programs. Relay is a nationally-recognized graduate school of education that provides next-level training and leadership development to school leaders across the country.

With support from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, The Mind Trust is sponsoring 27 school leaders who will attend Relay’s National Principals Academy Fellowship (NPAF), two school leaders for Relay’s National Principal Supervisors Academy (NPSA), and three school leaders for Relay’s Instructional Leaders Professional Development (ILPD). The exceptionally positive reviews from the 43 school leaders in the first two cohorts have continued to increase demand from Indianapolis educators for Relay’s Fellowships.

“Relay’s National Principals Academy Fellowship provides rigorous training that school leaders can take and implement in their schools right away,” said Joe White, The Mind Trust’s Vice President of School Support. “Leaders from the first two cohorts have already seen the positive outcomes from using Relay practices in their schools and we’re excited to see the growing momentum and impact from Relay-trained leaders.”

“The research has long been clear that effective principals are critical for student and teacher success,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, President and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. “In addition, past Indianapolis participants have consistently rated Relay’s school leadership development programs as best-in-class. That is why we are proud to continue to support the growing cohort of Relay principal Fellows in Indianapolis.”

“Relay has a track record of taking ‘good’ school leaders and providing them the necessary tools and resources to make them and their school teams ‘great’,” said Brenice Armstrong, Assistant Head of School at URBAN ACT Academy at Washington Irving 14. “With the new learning and coaching our leadership team will receive from Relay, I’m confident that we will continue to alter positively the trajectory of our students.”

The Fellowship is an intensive, one-year program focused on transformational school leadership. All NPAF participants will attend a 10-day summer session and four additional weekend “intersessions,” during which they focus on Relay’s key instructional pillars: observation and feedback, data-driven instruction, positive student culture of high expectations, adult professional development, instructional planning, an aligned staff culture, and strategic leadership.

The 32 fellows in this year’s cohort represent 18 public schools in Indianapolis, including charter schools, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), and IPS Innovation Network Schools. The three fellows attending Relay’s ILPD receive a condensed, one-week version of the Fellowship focused on instructional leadership skills for teacher leaders, assistant principals, and instructional coaches.

The 32 Fellows are:

2019 National Principals Academy Fellows

Chrystal Westerhaus, Principal, Avondale Meadows Middle School

Megan Murphy, Founder and Head of School, Circle City Prep

Stephanie Campos Johnson, Assistant Principal – Grades 1-2, Global Preparatory Academy at Riverside 44

Stephanie Holmberg, Lead Teacher, Global Preparatory Academy at Riverside 44

John Edge, Principal, Arlington Middle School

Cliff Bailey, Lead Special Education Specialist, Arlington Middle School

Corye Franklin, Principal, Arsenal Technical High School

Alexis Johnson, Culture Climate Specialist, Arsenal Technical High School

Crishell Sam, Assistant Principal, Arsenal Technical High School

Joshua Halliwell, Assistant Principal, Charles W. Fairbanks School 105

Valerie Clark, Principal, Ernie Pyle School 90

Elizabeth McClain, Lead Teacher, Kindezi Academy

Renee Wilson, Instructional Coach, Kindezi Academy

ShaDe’ Watson, Assistant School Leader, KIPP Indy Schools

Karen Wright, Assistant Principal, Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63

Eric McGuire, Assistant Principal, Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63

Alicia Hervey, Principal, The PATH School

Tia Taylor, Assistant Principal, The PATH School

Jennica Adkins, Director, Culture & Instruction, pilotED: Bethel Park

John McClure, CEO, SUPER School 19

Deborah Garcia, Head of School, SUPER School 19

Kristina Cowan, Literacy Coach, Charles A. Tindley Accelerated Schools

Angel Jackson, Assistant Principal, Tindley Renaissance Academy

Nigena Livingston, Head of School, URBAN ACT Academy at Washington Irving 14

Brenice Armstrong, Assistant Head of School, URBAN ACT Academy at Washington Irving 14

Mark Humphrey, Multi-Classroom Leader, URBAN ACT Academy at Washington Irving 14

Jessica Parson, Elementary Principal, Vision Academy

2019 National Principal Supervisors Academy Fellows

Kelly Herron, Executive Director, United Schools of Indianapolis

Jessica Kohlmeyer, Director of Academic Affairs, United Schools of Indianapolis

2019 Instructional Leaders Professional Development Participants

Amy Berns, Assistant Principal, Edison School of the Arts

Jessica English, Assistant Head of School and Academics, Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder Diggs 42

Ashley Cowger, Executive Director of Professional Learning, IPS


About The Mind Trust

The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student in Indianapolis, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the supports they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 24 schools and helped place more than 1,400 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms. More information can be found at

About Relay Graduate School of Education

The Relay Graduate School of Education is a national, accredited, nonprofit institution of higher education whose mission is to teach teachers and school leaders to develop in all students the academic skills and strength of character needed to succeed in college and life. Now serving over 3,500 teachers in 18 cities and more than 1,200 leaders nationwide, Relay is eager to bring about transformational change in educator preparation. Relay is committed to using practice and feedback to become the place where a new generation of continuously improving, results-focused individuals can fulfill their destiny in the world’s greatest profession. For more information, please visit the Relay website ( or follow Relay on Twitter (@RelayGSE).