Indianapolis – The Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) Board of School Commissioners tonight voted to move forward with two new “Innovation Network Schools” (or “Innovation Schools”) within the district that will lead to more educator and family empowerment and involvement in the schools and higher academic achievement for Indianapolis students.
Innovation Schools are public schools made possible by recent state laws allowing school districts to convert existing district schools into new, autonomous schools exempt from many district and state practices and regulations. In exchange for this autonomy, the schools are held to the highest academic standards. Since the school board must approve each school, the schools stay within the district, allowing the board to hold them accountable for their performance.
IPS is the first district in the state to create new Innovation Schools. The Mind Trust, IPS and the City of Indianapolis formed a partnership in 2014 to launch these new schools, resulting in this restart of two low-performing schools that are preparing to open as Innovation Schools for the 2016-17 school year.
The IPS board approved the adoption of agreements for two new Innovation Schools, which were incubated through education fellowships provided by The Mind Trust:
Global Prep Academy (GPA). GPA, led by The Mind Trust Fellow Mariama Carson, will eventually serve students in pre-K-8. Native English- and Spanish-speaking students will receive instruction in both languages and will develop strong critical thinking skills through a global, hands-on curriculum that engages their creativity.
GPA will open in Riverside Elementary School 44. As a restart, the school will continue to serve the school’s existing students, in addition to new students who enroll. Carson, a nationally recognized educator with close to 20 years experience in public education, has been communicating with families about the transition and is in the process of hiring a new staff.
Kindezi Academy. Kindezi, led by The Mind Trust Fellows Shanae Staples & Kevin Kubacki, will be a K-6 school rooted in the belief that every child is a leader. This credo will be realized through a “student-centered” learning environment based on small group instruction, innovative uses of technology through “blended learning” and leadership education in order to meet the specific needs of each student.
Kindezi will open in Joyce Kilmer Elementary School 69. The school also will continue to serve the existing students and currently is communicating with families and hiring new school personnel.
Before starting her fellowship, Staples was the founding academic dean of Enlace Academy, a charter school on the city’s westside. She was recruited by Kubacki from Teach For America, where she spent five years in various classroom and leadership capacities in Atlanta and Chicago.
These schools would join five other Innovation Schools – including PLA@103, which was incubated by The Mind Trust – that opened in IPS this current school year.
“We are pleased with how these school plans are progressing, and we believe they are positioned to yield better results for our students,” said Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, IPS Superintendent. “Innovation Network Schools allow us to leverage district resources and the support of our educational partners to ensure our students have the optimal environment to foster achievement. The school leaders behind these proposed schools have the passion, drive and support to cultivate great opportunities for our students and families.”
“These new Innovation Schools will play a vital role in developing sustainable neighborhoods while providing an exceptional educational experience for our students,” said Ahmed Young, director of the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation. “I am excited these school leaders have an opportunity to impact our city in an incredible way.”
“These newest schools demonstrate that the IPS board and Superintendent Ferebee are committed to engaging innovative ideas and transforming IPS into one of the nation’s finest school systems,” said David Harris, founder & CEO of The Mind Trust. “We have been honored to partner with IPS and the Mayor’s Office to advance the cause of education innovation and provide even more educational opportunities for Indianapolis families.”