Up Close with Nevada Succeeds: Leading State Learning Transformation

This is a special Getting Smart Podcast mini-series about the Nevada Succeeds InspirED Fellowship

Nevada Succeeds is a Las Vegas-based education nonprofit focused on empowering systems transformation through educator impact, policy, and design thinking. Dedicated to building a statewide ecosystem, Nevada Succeeds launched an InspirED Fellowship in July 2020 in partnership with Las Vegas Sands.

The goal of the fellowship was to empower educational practitioners to investigate Nevada education challenges and use design thinking to develop actionable plans to determine solutions. Using the Singapore education system and best practices sites across the country as a guide, Fellows engaged in deep conversations around collaboration, student achievement and professional growth for educators.

Keeping equity at the forefront of all their work, Fellows were given the opportunity to lead, the support to discover innovative solutions to educational obstacles and space to shift their practice and learning from insight to impact.

We’ve been honored to partner with Nevada Succeeds on some of this work and are excited for you to hear these conversations with some of the many key players in the initiative.

In this second part of the three-part series with Nevada Succeeds, Shawnee Caruthers and Tom Vander Ark welcome Nevada State Superintendent, Jhone Ebert; Nevada Succeeds Executive Director, Jeanine Collins; as well as two teachers and InspirED Global fellows, Mike Lang and Jordana McCudden. If you haven’t already be sure to check out episode one, as well as this piece by our guest, Jordana.

Jhone Ebert is the Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Nevada Department of Education. Previously, she was the Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy of the New York State Education Department and the Chief Innovation and Productivity Officer at Clark County School District. Jeanine Collins is the Executive Director of Nevada Succeeds; an Adjunct Faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and the founder and Principal at Reflect Forward. Mike Lang is a Technology Teacher at Clark County School District who prides himself on innovation and teaching the whole student. Jordana McCudden is a teacher, instructional coach, and project facilitator at the Clark County School District. She has worked in education for 20-plus years and strives to have a positive impact on classrooms across the state.

Together, they discuss Nevada Succeeds’s InspireED Global Fellowship, why they find it so valuable as educators and leaders, how it has impacted their future plans and outlook on education, and how it has helped aid their journeys (especially during a global pandemic).

Superintendent Jhone Ebert highlights some of the interesting statistics about Nevada’s layout: there is a population of three million in the state, three quarters live in Clark County. There are 445,707 students in the state. With over 320,000 students, 35,000 employees, 336 schools and an annual budget of $5.2 billion, the Clark County School District is the fifth-largest in the nation and one of the fastest-growing. It also has been online the whole time since the pandemic started.

To begin this transformation work, Superintedent Ebert traveled and interviewed all districts to help determine what we value as human beings. She determined “it’s not just the word Equity. What are the actions we are taking?” She also says that Nevada is “ready to truly invest in our students for the future.”

Jordana McCudden is an ELL Project Facilitator for Clark County School District. She was in the first cohort of the Nevada Succeeds InspirED Global Fellowship. She highlights how important it is to stay uncomfortable in our learning in order to ensure consistent growth.

Mike Lang is a tech teacher technology at Laura Dearing Elementary in Las Vegas. He reflects on how important it is “for educators to think about how change can happen at our state.” The InspirED Global Fellowship and additional growth work have helped him to ease/smooth some assumptions and blindspots through its collaborative and laboratory approach.

All guests agreed that one of the key pieces of the InspirED Global Fellowship is remembering that individual learning can create a larger spirit of learning that can lead to tangible outcomes that take continued collaboration.

Key Takeaways:

[:04] About the Nevada Succeeds mini-series.
[1:23] About the second part of the three-part mini-series.
[1:38] Tom welcomes special guests, Jhone Ebert, Jeanine Collins, Michael Lane, and Jordana McCudden.
[2:21] Jhone Ebert gives the lay of the land in Nevada and speaks about how many students and schools there are.
[3:11] The state of affairs of education in Nevada, particularly in Clark County.
[6:53] In addition to the pandemic, what other priorities has Jhone Ebert set for her department as Superintendent?
[11:04] Jeanine speaks about Nevada Succeeds and how she and Superintendent Ebert connected.
[13:38] Mike shares how he learned about the InspireED Global Fellowship, what he did in it, and why he found it valuable.
[16:15] What it has been like for Mike to teach during a pandemic, how he has helped other teachers adjust their practice this year, and important lessons he thinks we should take with us, post-pandemic.
[19:04] Jordanna speaks about her role in Clark County, how she became an InspireED Global fellow, and how it has impacted the way she is thinking about her future plans.
[23:22] Has helping to shape education policies statewide been a byproduct of some of Jordanna’s leadership activities?
[25:01] Jhone Ebert shares her excitement and gratefulness for sharing space with incredible educators and leaders.
[26:17] Jeanine speaks more about the incredible Nevada Succeeds InspirED Global Fellowship and why it is so important — especially right now.
[28:20] Mike speaks about his week going forward as an educator.
[29:28] Tom thanks everyone for joining the podcast.

Mentioned in This Episode:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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