Distinctive Schools is excited to announce an evolution to our executive leadership team structure, aimed to better address the needs of the staff, students, and families we serve.
“Growth of our leadership team is designed to best position Distinctive Schools for the future, so we can continue to grow student achievement and positively impact our school communities.” said Dr. Joseph Wise, Distinctive Schools Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Ultimately, with these new roles, we will be able to make great strides in education and begin the 2018-19 school year with success.”
The additions to the executive leadership team include the appointment of Brianna Terrell as Chief Strategy Officer and Erin Lanoue as Chief Operations Officer. Terrell and Lanoue will join the executive leadership team, working closely with Scott Frauenheim, President, and Dr. Jennifer Ferrari, Vice President and Chief Schools Officer.
“Both Brianna and Erin bring a wealth of talent and invaluable perspective to our work, and their unique expertise will strengthen our collective efforts to offer high-quality public education opportunities for our students.” said Dr. Ferrari.
Terrell previously served as Network Chief of Staff for the past year. In her new role, she will be responsible for overseeing Distinctive Schools’ partnerships, development, school growth, and strategic initiatives. In bringing these components together, Distinctive Schools sees the opportunity to share best practices and leverage skills across the organization.
“After a thorough and thoughtful planning process, Brianna was the clear choice to lead strategy at Distinctive Schools,” said Frauenheim. “She is an accomplished, results-oriented, and high-integrity leader with a track record of improving organizational efficiency. We are looking forward to having Brianna lead our strategy and development work into the future.”
With experience as a management consultant at Deloitte and an Education Pioneers fellow, Terrell brings a new perspective to Distinctive Schools through valuable resources and best practices in organizational development and planning.
Newly appointed Chief Operations Officer, Erin Lanoue brings operational and charter school expertise to the executive leadership team. She will assume responsibility for operations, talent, finance, and marketing at Distinctive Schools, as well as be responsible for the alignment and prioritization of these teams to the schools to ensure operational excellence across the organization.
Lanoue is a seasoned and trusted leader who continuously delivers results. Prior to this appointment, she successfully led operations for Charter Schools USA and served in leadership roles with Chicago International Charter School for over ten years. She has overseen effective growth of school sites, as well as improved administrative and school procedures and strategic planning.
“Distinctive Schools will benefit greatly. We are excited to appoint a highly respected charter leader like Erin as COO, and be able to leverage her tremendous experience in education.” said Dr. Wise.
Distinctive Schools is pleased to announce the opening of our newest school, Distinctive College Prep: Redford, located in metro-Detroit, and that Mrs. Camille Hibbler has been selected as the school principal for the campus.
“We saw the opportunity to open a second campus in metro-Detroit and are excited about our newest campus in Redford, Michigan,” said Scott Frauenheim, Distinctive Schools President. “We look forward to positively impacting additional communities and to continue our commitment to closing the opportunity gap by providing access to rich personalized learning experiences for more students and families.”
Opening for the 2018-19 school year, Distinctive College Prep (DCP): Redford is Distinctive Schools’ second campus in the metro-Detroit area, following the opening of Distinctive College Prep: Harper Woods in fall of 2017. Both campuses are free, not for profit, charter schools. DCP: Redford is currently enrolling students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, and DCP: Harper Woods is currently enrolling students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Each campus has plans to add a grade level each year and serve students in grades kindergarten to eighth grade.
"Opening Distinctive College Prep: Harper Woods for the 2017-18 school year was an amazing experience. We were able to become part of a fantastic school community and provide families a great school with great teachers," said Cassie Williams, school principal at Distinctive College Prep: Harper Woods. "I look forward to seeing our students' engagement and academic growth this next year, as well as being able to collaborate with peers from Distinctive College Prep: Redford. Together, we will be able to positively influence the education narrative in metro-Detroit."
“It is an honor to be part of the Distinctive Schools’ family,” stated Hibbler. “I’m excited to work side-by-side with the Distinctive College Prep: Redford students and families to grow the campus, as well as ensure that all students in our surrounding communities have access to a high-quality kindergarten through eighth grade school.”
Hibbler is a graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Education. She served as the Principal of University Prep Academy High School and brings a wealth of experience to this role. Hibbler has also participated in Detroit Leads, a year-long residency program that gives participants who are interested in leading an excellent school in Detroit the opportunity to engage in a variety of invaluable professional experiences. Similarly, Hibbler has participated in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s New and Aspiring Leaders Program.
“Camille is a Michigan native, with much experience in metro-Detroit. She is enthusiastic about how our learners can grow and is focused on collaborating with staff, students, and families. She will lead a school that honors joy, integrity, honesty, and authentic communication,” said Frauenheim. “We are all thrilled to have her lead our brand new school.”
Career opportunities are also still available with Distinctive College Prep: Redford, and there is potential for on-the-spot hiring. For more information on available positions or how to enroll your student at Distinctive College Prep: Redford, visit http://www.dcpredford.org.
We're closing out another successful school year - the 2017-18 school year brought so much joy and celebration to the Distinctive Schools family. We opened our first campus in Michigan, Distinctive College Prep (DCP) Harper Woods in Metro Detroit. As we opened the doors to greet new students in September, Director Cassie Williams had arranged for a brass band to play and welcome many new families to our Distinctive family. From the very first day, DCP - Harper Woods boasted the Distinctive feeling.
In reflection of this school year, we are proud to celebrate and honor Trailblazer Teachers, lead and present at various educational conferences across the nation, and continue to pilot new and innovative classroom practices. We look forward to what the 2018-2019 school year will bring, and the opportunities we will provide for our students.
In closing out the school year, we are excited to share a reflection in 100 Photos - a celebration of all things Distinctive in 2017-18! Our photo gallery visually displays the celebrations we have had at each one of our campuses this past year. The photos are in no particular order. Each celebration positively impacted our students, staff, families and community, and demonstrates how much we have achieved. Special thank to Amy Vracar, Director of Strategic Initiatives for compiling this gallery!
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS Irving Park.
This month's Trailblazer is passionate about opening the minds of his students. He works to integrate the arts, to develop students' critical thinking, and works to make the world a better place. This trailblazer is always looking to improve his practice, and is always willing to share and learn from his experiences. He has developed partnerships within the CPS Arts Community, hosted and presented district-wide professional development opportunities at CICS Irving Park, and recently earned his masters in Teaching and Inquiry. He listens to his students, and adapts his instructional practice to meet student needs. He provides real-world experiences in the arts, and has truly made an impact on our community!
We feel so fortunate to have him at CICS - Irving Park, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Mr. Frank Cademartori!
Mr. Frank Cademartori: Featured Trailblazer!
Follow up with Frank! Read more about his work on his blog, A Sound Mind.
The Summit Spotlight Award
On Monday, Summit Learning awarded the Summit Spotlight to 20 educators and 12 schools from across the country! In the fall, the Summit Learning Community nominated teachers, leaders, and schools for the Spotlight Awards. We are thrilled to recognize THREE Summit Spotlights across our network! CICS Irving Park was awarded a Campus Spotlight (the only school in Chicago to receive the Spotlight!), Sami Smith from CICS West Belden and Jonathan So from CICS Bucktown were awarded Educator Spotlights - two teachers selected from over 3,000 applications!
"The Summit Learning Spotlight celebrates teachers and schools across the country that are outstanding examples of personalized learning implementation and instruction."
Summit Spotlight: CICS Irving Park
CICS Irving Park was recognized for their commitment to helping students develop the skills, knowledge and habits needed for success. Director, JW Kuebler says, "Our middle school has provided students the opportunity to work at their own individualized pace. Higher performing students feel they are moving through content at an increased rate and digging deeper into standards. Students that need more time to process and internalize information are given the time and support they need -students feel successful and accomplished in their learning."
Summit Spotlight: Educators
Spotlight teachers exemplify Summit Learning's values and practices - knowing their students deeply inside and outside of the classroom, building a strong and positive classroom culture, and empowering students to be self-advocates. We are honored to have two teachers selected as Spotlight Teachers - we are so proud of Sami Smith and Jonathan So!
We are thrilled to have received Summit Spotlights. We are grateful to all the Leaders, Teachers, and Students who have transformed the classroom and embraced a new way of teaching and learning. Learn more about what it takes to be a Summit Spotlight School or Educator here.
Distinctive Guest post by: Carolyn Glantz, Distinctive Schools Literacy Coordinator
What is a Lexia Fellow?
A fellowship is known as a group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim. Eleven months ago, Distinctive Schools (DS) nominated Lexia Leader Fellows, who were accepted into a year-long professional learning opportunity around Lexia Core5. The Lexia Leader Fellowship opportunity embodies the Distinctive vision to Innovate, Collaborate, and Trailblaze to positively impact our students and teachers. Teacher voice is an important part of the culture at Distinctive Schools, which comes to life through our value of Innovation:
Distinctive Fellows include representatives from our Chicago International Charter School (CICS) campuses. From CICS Bucktown: Bridget Fahey (Kindergarten Teacher), and Jenna Kasper (Fourth-Fifth Grade Teacher), from CICS Irving Park, Samantha Parrish (Second Grade Teacher) & Meaghan Rohan (Third Grade Teacher), from CICS Prairie, Siri Nelson (Fifth Grade Teacher), and from CICS West Belden, Catherine Morris (Kindergarten Teacher), and Christine Roberts (Second Grade Teacher) participated in the fellowship.
Our Fellowship educators are leading the work with Lexia Core 5 at the campus level, and were ready to build their knowledge and theory around literacy and Lexia Core5. This shared sense of collaboration and innovation around a digital program in the Fellowship process became more than just learning about best practice. This collective responsibility allowed for teachers to incubate and apply innovative ideas in the classroom to the impact student learning and achievement.
- Jim Knight, Instructional Coaching Group
As seen in the examples below, CICS Irving Park teachers, Meaghan Rohan and Samantha Parrish, have created Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) and Reading Menus, where students keep track of their own Lexia minutes and units each day.
Lexia Journey: Past & Future
In our fellowship, teachers focused on the Lexia Core5 experience, implementation, literacy knowledge, ELL and peer support. We collaborated around reading responses through a Google forum and webinars that allowed for cross-campus collaboration.
Anthony Claypool, Distinctive Schools' Director of Assessment and Data, speaks to the importance of continuous professional learning, as seen through this Fellowship, for our teachers and the impact professional learning has on teacher practices around data and digital programs in the personalized learning world.
-Anthony Claypool, Distinctive Schools
As we reflect on our use of Lexia, and look to the future, we are excited to dig deeper beyond the quantity of usage and think more about quality. Our Fellows have learned how to use the MyLexia platform to further personalize instruction for their students. By using the real-time data and information, teachers can assemble groups of students in real-time to support them offline. There is a balance in blended learning that we value at Distinctive Schools, and Lexia Core5 is another tool in the teacher’s toolbox to support our teachers and students.
Interested in learning more about Lexia Core 5? Read the Case Study from CICS Irving Park.
Distinctive Schools Goes International!
An exciting first for Distinctive Schools this week, as we welcomed international visitors for campus tours! Frederico Azevedo from the Association of Independent Schools of Brasilia, Brazil (SINEPE) and a Brazilian delegation visited CICS Irving Park and CICS West Belden. Each year the Association organizes a delegation to a different country around the world with the purpose to visit different schools, to network, observe the organization and how they are innovating in teaching and in leadership.
They began their day at CICS Irving Park, and then traveled on to CICS West Belden. They spent time meeting with staff, observing classrooms, talking with students, and contemplating the learning environments. After their tour, the group reflected on what they observed. Check out the circle maps below (special thanks to CICS Irving Park teacher, April Garcia who translated these for us!).
It was an incredible opportunity to share and promote International Collaboration between educators, and we look forward to continued opportunities! #WeAreDistinctive
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS West Belden.
This month's featured trailblazer is someone who provides enriching opportunities and reaches all students, Kindergarten through Eighth Grade at CICS West Belden. She designed a personalized electives model for middle school students, which continues to grow each year. This trailblazer gives students voice and choice over their education and the opportunity to pursue their unique interests and passions. She works tirelessly to help students discover their true passion in the arts, and effectively tailors their educational experiences to match their interests. She uses competency-based progression in teaching music, providing instruction, materials, and experiences that best meet student needs and interests. She models a commitment to lifelong learning with her own professional growth and development, and is the first Distinctive Enrichment teacher to be featured as a Trailblazer!
We feel so fortunate to have her at CICS West Belden, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Anna Ausmann!
Ms. Anna Ausmann: Featured Trailblazer!
The annual ASU+GSV Summit began in 2010, as a collaboration between Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley. The annual ASU+GSV Summit aims to elevate the action and dialogue around innovation for technology and education. Over the past several years, Distinctive Schools has had a number of presenters and panels share the Distinctive Perspective to innovation at ASU+GSV.
Karin Breo, Executive Director of Partnerships and Development at Distinctive Schools, was featured in a panel from 2017, the Lessons Learned in Change Management. Scott Frauenheim, Distinctive Schools President and Chief Operating Officer, was featured in the 2016 panel, the K-12: Innovators Assemble – Connecting Schools and Tools to Transform Education. Both Breo and Frauenheim reference their work with LEAP Innovations, and the partnership that has helped Distinctive Schools to transform the learning experience for our students, and advance the innovative practice of our educators.
At the 2018 ASU+GSV Summit, Distinctive Schools leaders presented their perspective on innovation. During the Educator Innovator Pitch, CICS West Belden Teachers, Kelly Pollack and Christina Hanna shared about their classroom community, and how they work together to make learning personal for their fifty-nine third and fourth grade students. View their presentation, Our Big Happy Family: Co-Teaching in a Multi-Age Classroom here:
Matt Pitucco, Dean at CICS Irving Park and Stephanie Indianer, Social Worker at CICS Bucktown, shared their cross-campus collaborative efforts to change the mindset around discipline, and the implementation of Restorative Justice. Their Educator Innovator Pitch, A Personalized Approach to Restorative Justice and Social-Emotional Learning is linked here.
While we were in San Diego, we had the opportunity to visit innovative schools with fellow educators. One campus to note was the Design 39 Campus. It was clearly designed with creativity and the student experience at its core, "As a collaborative community, we nurture creative confidence, practice design thinking, learn through inquiry, connect globally, use technology and real world tools, and promote the courage and growth mindset necessary to change the world." Design 39 is a great place to visit when implementing Personalized Learning in schools.
We facilitated a workshop with Andy Calkins of Next Generation Learning Challenge, Tom Vander Ark of Getting Smart, and fellow NGLC recipients. Executive Director of Personalized Learning, Jin-Soo Huh, shared with attendees the Distinctive Schools approach to innovative work and how our team used the MyWays Framework when writing our strategic plan. Distinctive School leaders who attended the workshop reflected on where they are in next generation planning and where they need to go from high level strategy, to nuts and bolts like infrastructure.
If you are interested in learning more about strategies around implementing Personalized Learning, reach out to schedule a visit to one of our campuses in Chicago, Detroit, or Minneapolis!
Distinctive Schools National Board of Directors:
Chicago, IL (April 4, 2018) Distinctive Schools announced the establishment of its National Board of Directors that will help guide Distinctive Schools as an educational practice leader committed to social justice and the elevation of access and achievement for all students.
Distinctive Schools began its journey in May of 2011, with the mission to ensure successful futures for all of its students. Today, in partnership with Chicago International Charter School (CICS), Distinctive Schools currently manages four K-8 elementary schools in Chicago: CICS Bucktown, CICS Irving Park, CICS Prairie, and CICS West Belden. In the northern region of Minneapolis, in partnership with Innovative Quality Schools, Distinctive Schools manages Minnesota Excellence in Learning Academy (MELA), and at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Distinctive Schools proudly partnered with Central Michigan University in the opening of its newest school, Distinctive College Prep – Harper Woods, a K-3 charter school, adding grade levels each year through grade eight.
“We are ready for an expanded set of minds to help us serve our students, families, communities, and staff. Our Distinctive Schools educational model is fueled by innovation and informed by cutting-edge research and best practice, and, we believe with the establishment of our National Board of Directors, we will be able to continuously innovate as a network,” stated Dr. Joseph Wise, Chairman of the Board and CEO at Distinctive Schools. “The board that we have assembled embodies the spirit of positively impacting K-12 education, and brings education expertise, talent and energy to the table. We expect them to help us continue to innovate, trailblaze, and collaboratively lead a public education transformation, as well as help build a new narrative for what our nation’s education should look like today.”
The Distinctive Schools National Board of Directors consists of leaders, representing a diverse group of institutions including acclaimed education organizations, universities and K-12 academies. The Distinctive National Board of Directors are
As national thought leaders in the area of personalized learning, Distinctive Schools fosters learning environments that honor each individual and nurture the whole learner, and through a highly personalized model of instruction and supports, students develop a strong sense of agency and confidence and consistently exceed national norms on both growth and attainment targets.
“We believe our National Board of Directors represent the apogee of education today. We are very fortunate to learn and work with them, and to utilize their unique skill sets and expertise to continue to strengthen Distinctive Schools,” stated Scott Frauenheim, President and COO at Distinctive Schools. “The new board will strengthen support in all areas of the organization while continuing to positively impact student achievement. It is an exciting step for Distinctive Schools.”
Distinctive Schools Celebrates CICS West Belden with Release of Personalized Learning Case Study!
At Distinctive Schools, we are celebrating Chicago International Charter School (CICS) West Belden!
CICS West Belden is located in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood of Chicago, and in 2011, became operated by Distinctive Schools, a school management organization (SMO) with three other schools in the Chicago area. At this time, classrooms at CICS West Belden were more traditional, with desks in rows. However the classroom set-up didn’t forge an environment of camaraderie and love of learning. As stated by Colleen Collins, now School Director at CICS West Belden, “Students were well-behaved and on task, but their engagement was low.”
Therefore, in 2013, CICS West Belden began its journey into personalized learning and the first step was to build a foundation and create a culture of respect, innovation and self direction. This step would help lay the groundwork for personalized learning, so the school’s leadership team attended the Summer Design Program led by LEAP Innovations. This design workshop offered the CICS West Belden team the “space, time, and expertise to design innovative solutions to some of their most pressing challenges,” and, at the program, numerous ideas came together.
CICS West Belden then spent nearly a full year planning the details of the pilot classrooms to first implement personalized learning before going school-wide. When the pilot team was chosen for the 2014-15 school year, the team began working quickly to prepare for implementation. Since then, CICS West Belden has piloted innovative ideas, refined and implemented methods, and transformed the student experience.
“Switching to a personalized learning model can be overwhelming for teachers and staff,” stated Scott Frauenheim, President and Chief Operating Officer at Distinctive Schools, “Though, we learned by implementing personalized learning through pilot teachers and classrooms first, before implementing it school-wide, we were able to take changes one step at a time.”
Fast forward to April, 2018 - CICS West Belden serves 530 students in grades kindergarten to eighth grade, and CICS West Belden Bulldog pride is exemplified across the building. When you walk into classrooms, they look more like start-up companies than a traditional classroom -- with small group spaces, futons, and technology such as iPads or Chromebooks for all students.
“Today, our school is a place where learning is cultivated and where students are active partners in their education,” stated Ms. Collins. “Likewise, our teachers collaborate together, as well as with families and students, to design learning experiences that provide all our students with curriculum and instruction that showcases their passions, successes, and ambitions.”
We are thrilled to share a case study which tells the story of CICS West Belden’s journey. The case study was written in collaboration with FSG. FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm, with extensive work in issues related to personalized learning and nonprofits.
This case study is helping inform education leaders, as well as our school communities, on one school’s journey to personalized learning, and it includes lessons learned, the steps in CICS West Belden’s personalized learning journey, challenges along the way, the value of partnerships, and the focus on the future. For your copy of the CICS West Belden Case Study, visit: http://bit.ly/Distinctive_Journeys_to_PL
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from Distinctive College Prep (DCP) - Harper Woods.
This month's Trailblazer uses personalized learning to create an engaging and rich classroom environment. Her students take ownership of the progress they are making, guided by a combination of their own goals and standards-based targets. Student ownership and independence allows this trailblazer to individualize instruction, provide intervention, and give feedback to her students. She is willing to do whatever it takes to motivate her students, even working their personalities into daily classroom routines. She encourages her students to think, question, and connect, and she is bringing out the best in her students every day!
We feel so fortunate to have her at DCP - Harper Woods, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Ciara Cox!
Ms. Ciara Cox: Featured Trailblazer!
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS Prairie.
This month's Trailblazer is leading the way for personalized learning at CICS Prairie. She serves as a thought partner with the LEAP Learning Network, participates in the Frontier pilot for second grade, and was featured as the very first Frontier All-Star teacher in February! This Trailblazer incorporates student choice and voice in her daily practice. Her students use a variety of menus and surveys to explore how they want to learn and demonstrate their learning. Her leadership is helping to trailblaze a strong personalized learning path for everyone at CICS Prairie.
We feel so fortunate to have her at CICS Prairie, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Keona Roberts!
Ms. Keona Roberts: Featured Trailblazer!
Celebrating Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week!
Students and staff across the Distinctive Schools network shared kind acts this week. Students from Minnesota Excellence in Learning Academy (MELA) wrote letters of gratitude to veterans, made thank you posters for lunchroom staff, and selected kind acts from the wall of kindness at MELA. Middle school students from CICS Bucktown volunteered to put together treat bags to thank their parents, students spent time doing yoga, and staff shared 'Kind' bars as a treat for one another!
There were so many acts of kindness taking place this week, and our campuses did a wonderful job capturing kindness through photos and videos, however one campus took the lead in our kindness challenge -sharing over THREE HUNDRED photos of kindness across their campus! Congratulations, CICS West Belden for completing and documenting so many kind acts! We hope all of our campuses keep the kindness going and keep kindness as a top priority!
Random acts of kindness week is a time for reflection on the importance of kindness, gratitude, and most importantly - for one another! We are so grateful for the collaboration we experience with our students, families, parents, staff, and teachers. Click through the photos below to see some of the amazing things that happened this week!
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from CICS Bucktown.
This month's Trailblazer is passionately committed to education. She is a leader at CICS Bucktown - both in teaching 8th-grade and coaching middle school. Her knowledge and experience with the Summit Learning Platform is incredible. She uses the platform to differentiate materials, meet each of her students at the pace that is right for them, and grade students based on mastery. This leader is a wonderful resource for both students and staff; she spends much of her time mentoring students and building relationships. She is incredibly hardworking, dedicated, and an asset to the team!
We feel so fortunate to have her at CICS Bucktown, please join us in congratulating a Trailblazing Teacher, Ms. Rachael Beucher!
Ms. Rachael Beucher: Featured Trailblazer!