#INspirEDleaders

December 2019, Vol.8

Effective vs. Ineffective PLCs: A Free Resource for Leaders

By: Sarah Rush, School Improvement Specialist


Is your school or district interested in implementing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)? Or are you in the implementation process, and PLCs seem more like "staff meetings"? The Office of School Improvement has created two short videos to showcase effective and ineffective PLC meetings. Share these videos with your educators to enhance the data discussions in your own building.

Ineffective PLC
Effective PLC

Principal's Guide to Building Culturally Responsive Schools Toolkit

By: Diane Vielee, School Improvement Specialist


This tool provides foundational recommendations for building culturally responsive schools including a number of resources for district and building leaders. This guide is organized into four main sections: topic overviews, strategy recommendations, and a comprehensive list of quality resources. For more information, click here.

Developing High Quality Alternative Education Programs

By: Kimb Stewart, Alternative Education Specialist


Alternative education programs provide the flexibility for schools to be innovative and responsive to the needs of their students. One helpful resource for alternative educators is from the National Alternative Education Association. Their document, Exemplary Practices 2.0 can guide the development of high quality alternative education programs. For each exemplary practice noted in the article, there are indicators of quality programming which can inform decision making when striving to create effective, high-quality alternative education program.

Ambitious Instruction-Generating and Testing Hypotheses

By: Diane Vielee, School Improvement Specialist


Generating and testing hypotheses is no longer just for science class! Research has shown that a deductive approach works best, and can yield a 23 percentile gain when used effectively. This 8th strategy from Marzano does require students to apply their knowledge and use high level thinking skills.


Students should generate, explain, test, and defend hypotheses using both inductive and deductive strategies through problem solving. Several methods for hypothesis generation and testing practices in tasks may include:

    • Systems analysis

    • Problem solving

    • Historical investigation

    • Invention

    • Experimental inquiry

    • Decision making


More information on Marzano’s strategies can be found here.

Using Collaboratives to Promote Success in Rural Schools

By: Sarah Rush, School Improvement Specialist


One in four public school students in the state attend a rural school, making Indiana the eighth highest population of rural students in the country. Being a school leader in rural districts can, at times, feel isolating and bring a unique set of challenges. School leaders in these districts need supported and empowered in making changes to promote success. The State Support Network has started a new blog series that focuses on building partnerships and collaborative relationships among rural school districts. The blog enables participating districts to leverage resources and build a greater work capacity. Join the blog here and find brand new posts weekly.

Leadership Spotlight

Dawn Sonsini - Principal, Northeastern Middle School

Dawn Sonsini has served as principal of Northeastern Middle School for six years. Dawn and her team have worked hard on creating cultural norms within her building. They have a small staff, but they are extremely collaborative. Dawn loves the students in her building and believes in setting high expectations for all. One of her greatest accomplishments as a principal is the continuation of growth within her school. Throughout her time as principal, she and her team increased the school letter grade from a “D” to an “A”. School improvement efforts at Northeastern have always been a true team effort. Dawn and her staff are very focused on the well-being of students which includes SEL, behavior, academics, and employability skills. Dawn’s advice to other leaders is to love kids and staff relentlessly. She believes in giving grace to ourselves, staff, and students. Dawn loves her role at Northeastern and is thankful for her school community.

Roy Hufford - Principal, Southridge Elementary School

Roy Hufford has served as principal of Southridge Elementary School for four years. Roy’s team prioritizes students in every thing they do which includes creating opportunities beyond the school day. When Roy became principal, the only extracurricular activity available was basketball. Southridge now offers robotics, academic superbowl, coding, and several other clubs. Roy and his staff have increased parent involved by hosting "parties on the playground" and cultural heritage presentations. One of Roy’s greatest accomplishments was being a driving force behind Project Lead the Way (PLTW) for elementary schools in his district. Roy’s advice to other leaders is always base your decisions on what is best for kids.

Nominate a Leader!

We are going to spotlight assistant principals, principals, assistant superintendents, and superintendents every month. Nominate an exceptional leader by filling out this form.

Upcoming Opportunities

Indiana's Educating the Whole Child Summit

Registration for the second annual Indiana’s Educating the Whole Child Summit is live and can be found here.


Find highlights from a few of the keynote speakers, Dr. Isaiah Pickens and Dr. Adam Saenz.


Blocks of rooms have been secured at the Marriott East for $129/night. For your planning purposes, please know each day will begin with breakfast/registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. Day one, February 19, will begin with a speaker at 9:00 a.m. and Day two, February 20, will begin at 8:30 a.m. Both days will end at 4:00 p.m.


Questions should be directed to Christy Gauss at jcgauss@indiana.edu.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports Conference

Save the date for the MTSS Leadership Academy! Join IDOE's MTSS team to learn more about multi-tier systems of support with national experts and their topic areas. The conference will be held on April 1, 2020, at Purdue University. Please register here.

Connect with us on Twitter!

According to edsurge.com, 4.2 million tweets a day are related to education conversations. This is a great way to connect with other leaders in the education world. We invite you to connect with us and each other!



1. Tweet about all things in LEADERSHIP using #INspirEDleaders

2. Follow the hashtag and connect with other leaders around the state

3. Follow @EducateIN for the latest updates from Indiana Department of Education

4. Follow @LeclaireRobin, @MelissaABlossom, @DVielee, and @sarah_rush1 for the latest from the SI team

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