• IDRA Newsletter • November-December 2017 •

IDRA’s School TurnAround and Reenergizing for Success (STAARS) Leaders project is a unique model for school improvement that focuses on cohesive, meaningful change for struggling schools through mentoring and supporting campus leadership. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and is operating in the San Antonio ISD. The goal of the project is to enhance student academic success by empowering school leaders to build a culture dedicated to equity and excellence for all students. IDRA’s STAARS Leaders model is especially unique because of its focus on helping educational communities who teach English learners. Below are thoughts shared by participating leaders.

“I’ve been honored to have Dr. Avilés (IDRA) as one of my principal coaches. With our efforts, we were able to focus on student achievement at Ball Academy. Through her work and my team’s effort, we were able to move out of “Improvement Required” status to “Acceptable” status in one year by closing the achievement gaps. What we are most proud of is the improvement our ELs have made, which is an emphasis of IDRA. We were able to close the gap completely in math, and in other areas we have made gains of 12 to 15 points on the state assessments. With IDRA, we were able to build capacity among our leaders and teachers, and we focus on parent engagement, as well. It has been a great partnership for Ball Academy and for our students and community.”

– Gregory Rivers, Principal of Ball Academy

“The STAARS Leaders program has provided me a scholarship and opened doors for me that I never believed were possible. Dr. McNeil (McNeil Foundation) inspired me to focus my energy on my school, students and their needs. The program reiterated my vision that an administrator leads with integrity, fairness and a skill set that is unmatched by other programs. I was blessed with having Dr. McNeil teach my cohort. During our classes, everyone’s ideas were heard and respected. It helped our talents and skillset flourish without judgment. I sincerely thank the STAARS Leaders project, the McNeil Foundation, Dr. Avilés from IDRA, Dr. McNeil and Mr. Rivers for nominating me and guiding me in the program and my success in attaining my principal certification.”

– Rebecca Pinales, Professional School Counselor at Ball Academy

“The IDRA STAARS Leaders project has been instrumental in supporting our school improvement efforts. Not only have our students benefited from the services and support provided by IDRA but I also directly benefited from Dr. Avilés’ coaching and mentoring. I have gained much insight and professional development through the resources and professional learning offered by IDRA. We have engaged in purposeful data disaggregation, which has resulted in developing targeted interventions for all students. Our students and staff of Highlands High School have been blessed to have received the support and coaching of IDRA’s dedicated staff.”

– Dr. Luz Martínez, Principal at Highlands High School in 2016-17

“I am pleased and proud of our recent UVa [University of Virginia] site visit report on October 20. I hope you were too. Great job! With all of us and our partners continuing to work together and rallying support around our Champion Schools, I know we will see great improvement and success this year! Our first quarter CBA data is showing improvement and trajectory to meeting state standards for the 2017-18 school year. I remain focused and continue to reach out to IDRA, the Education Service Center for Region 20, UVa and the district Office of Academics as we address campus needs. Please know that I appreciate your commitment and efforts very much. I can not do this heavy lifting alone. I am very blessed to have a coalition comprised of colleagues and partners like you.”

– Dr. Joanelda De Leon, Assistant Superintendent for Turnaround Champion Schools

“One of the strategies for talent management is to enhance the pool of high-performing applicants. We realized that we cannot do this alone, and therefore building relationships with multiple associates is extremely important. IDRA and the McNeil Foundation are two valued partners. IDRA supported SAISD the past two years with a federal grant and will continue through this year. They provided over $84,700 in scholarships for 22 of our employees for principal certification and have provided cognitive coaching for 103 of our assistant principals, principals and implementation specialists in five of our campuses. In addition, they have provided $100,000 each year to the district for professional development and leadership incentives. I want to recognize and thank IDRA and the McNeil Foundation for their efforts.”

– Dr. Matthew Weber, Deputy Superintended for Talent Management

[©2017, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the November-December 2017 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]