Over the past two days our executive director, Matt Coleman, joined three EPIC team members, Carmen Gelman, Brandi Kujala-Peterson, and Matt Kim, in Costa Mesa, California at the 2017 National MTSS Professional Learning Institute. The MTSS PLI is an action-packed conference focused on the latest research-based practices to help schools, districts, and educators scale up their multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). The conference was held at the Hilton Orange County, where our team shared a stage and audience with inspiring educational experts, including keynote speakers Michael Yudin and Katie Novak, Ed.D.
In a two-part session, Matt and Carmen shared stories and insight from our partnerships with schools and districts using MTSS for secondary education. They provided innovative examples of how secondary schools throughout California, Oregon, and Washington are approaching MTSS implementation. Their session included interviews with educators, stories of schools’ successes and challenges, and gave participants the opportunity to hear from and interact with others in the room.
As part of the session, Matt and Brandi also introduced participants to a way to think more holistically about how student outcomes are defined within their MTSS work using Dr. Conley’s Four Keys to College and Career Readiness — a framework to help students, families, and educators identify and prioritize the skills needed to be successful after high school. In its simplest form, we refer to the Four Keys as Think, Know, Act, Go. In other words, students ready to be lifelong learners have the ability to THINK deeply about what they are doing; KNOW contextually why they learn; ACT purposefully to achieve their goals; and GO successfully through life’s transitions.
Carmen also took the stage twice to do what she loves most— brag about her former students. In a lunch session “TED Talk” panel, Carmen shared stories of her time as the principal at Springfield High School, a large comprehensive high school in Oregon. She shared how “All Means All” means caring for the whole student— even if that means starting an afterschool program that includes boxing, to engage the most at-risk students.
The second time Carmen took the mic, she led a learning session on restorative practices in high school. Her presentation highlighted her work at Springfield, as well as her recent work with Valley High School in Santa Ana Unified School District. She discussed the key characteristics of an effective universal approach; how to incorporate student voice, family, and community stakeholders in designing a shared, universal language; and how effective restorative practices build off a high quality universal approach.
It has been an honor for all of us at EPIC, but especially for Matt, Carmen, Brandi, and Matt to learn alongside so many incredible educators and passionate leaders and get to share the work we are doing with our school partners to prepare all students to be college, career, and life ready. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Orange County Department of Education and SWIFT, and we look forward to continue the crucial work for preparing our students. In Carmen’s words, the work we do changes lives!
We’ve provided links to all the materials from our sessions at the PLI below: