Up Close with Nevada Succeeds: Origins of the InspirED Fellowship

Up Close with Nevada Succeeds

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.

On this episode of the podcast, the first of a three part series, we’re joined by Jeanine Collins, Mary Jean Gallagher and Chip Kimball.

Mary Jean Gallagher is the former chief student achievement officer and assistant deputy minister of the Ontario Ministry of Education. She also co-authored The Devil Is in the Details: System Solutions for Equity, Excellence, and Student Well-Being with Michael Fullan.

Chip Kimball was the previous superintendent for Singapore American Schools. He is now making his way over to the International School of Prague.

Jeanine Collins is the Executive Director of Nevada Succeeds.

Jeanine Collins was determined to create an effective fellowship program. One that encouraged leaders to “suspend the need to know. Just show up and wonder.” They had big plans to take their fellows to Singapore before COVID, but ended up having to pivot to a more virtual experience. It became the “zoom room where it happens.” Being an InspireED Fellow means having “the ability to be curious, agile and courageous.”

Chip Kimball also shared from his experience that no one really  “is it top down leadership, is it bottom down leadership — most educators will say it is both.”

Mary Jean Gallagher also shared some of the trials and tribulations of systems level leadership, saying that ultimately “[we have to] build a culture in which all parts of our system are open to learning and focused on learning” and that we must be “[comfortable] leading from the seat we’re in.” To this, Chip Kimball added that “true change isn’t possible if you don’t empower, strengthen and support middle level leadership.”

“Leaders develop by having the opportunity to lead,” said Mary Jean Gallagher.

On the tension between innovation vs. equity, the guests made the following points:

  • There is a need for systemic change as opposed to flashes in the pan.
  • Excellence, equity and wellbeing are the three legs to the stool of school.
  • If you change the system to expecting students to actually think, working through potentially unknown answers, students not accustomed to having the answers will start to shine
  • Nothing is a pilot project — they are good where they are but are rarely scalable.
  • You have to always think this might not be all that we can be doing…

In response to the question “What innovation in learning are you most excited about?” the guests answer the following ways:

  • Mary Jean Gallagher: “Finding out that change in education could create something that’s truly better for kids. If you can measure impact for students (change that you’re making) you can use that to assess and fine tune what you’re doing along the way.”
  • Jeanine Collins: Accountability
  • Chip Kimball: Autonomy, creating as much as possible. Students could be responsible for designing and executing the learning that is most relevant to them.

Key Takeaways:

[:04] About the first episode in the three-part series with Nevada Succeeds.
[2:03] Tom welcomes Jeanine Collins, Mary Jean Gallagher, and Chip Kimball to the podcast.
[2:56] The backstory of Nevada Succeeds, about their mission, and how they have shifted their goals in the last year with COVID-19 by doing meaningful virtual and remote work.
[5:09] Jeanine speaks about the amazing and diverse lead learners that they’ve assembled at Nevada Succeeds.
[6:28] How did Dr. Kimble originally connect with Nevada Succeeds? And how does he think about the challenges of educator and school leadership today?
[9:11] Jeanine elaborates on the learning agenda at Singapore American and how inviting 100 of his faculty members to visit 100 of the best schools in the world impacted their success.
[11:36] Mary Jane Gallagher reflects on the challenges of system leadership today.
[15:55] Jeanine summarizes how she thinks about leadership development, what it should look like, and how she has incorporated these ideas at Nevada Succeeds.
[18:21] Chip speaks about strategies for developing young leaders.
[20:32] Mary Jane shares her insights on important experiences for developing leaders.
[23:36] Chip shares his thoughts on how leaders can innovate and be champions for equity in their school system.
[25:27] Mary Jane shares her insights on leading for innovation while championing for equity.
[29:28] Chip shares some additional insights on what they discovered after visiting 100 of the best schools in the world.
[31:12] Jeanine shares her key insights on innovation and equity.
[34:19] Mary Jane shares what is currently on her ‘shortlist’ for innovation opportunities.
[36:04] Chip shares what is on his shortlist for innovation.
[38:13] Jeanine shares what is on her own shortlist for innovation.
[39:29] Tom chimes in with an innovation of his own and thanks Jeanine, Chip, and Mary Jane for joining the Getting Smart 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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