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Sustaining innovation through transformative leadership in Middletown, NY

When district leaders rethink how their organization works

Enlarged City School District of Middletown, NY


After having worked with Education Elements for 5 years to refine its approach to instruction and implement personalized learning, Middletown is now refining its own practices and habits to ensure sustainability of its initiatives in the long term.

The Challenge


After 5 years of implementing personalized learning, and seeing five years of sustained academic growth (Math proficiency grew by 18% and ELA proficiency grew by 17%), the district started seeing that things began to plateau and additional initiatives began taking hold in Middletown. The initial strides were critical, but the next steps were less clear. Not only did classrooms need to change, and they did through PL, but the way the district worked as an organization needed to change as well. When Middletown discovered that, despite being one of the longest-running Ed Elements partners, they still have room to expand and deepen how Personalized Learning functions in their district, they decided to rethink how their organization works internally, with the help of the New School Rules.

How We Helped


Through the New School Rules Leadership course, based on the NSR Book authored by Ed Elements CEO Anthony Kim and co-author Alexis-Gonzales Black, we helped Middletown leaders learn by using a four-part framework of learning: (1) Spark or understand why each new practice matters through first-hand experiences; (2) Expand their own knowledge of the new rules, practices, and resources; (3) Practice by using each rule on their own in small, low-risk ways; and (4) Plan to apply this practice in real life and use a cycle of reflection and iteration to continuously improve at their district.

The Results


At Middletown, we are already seeing tangible changes in the ways their teams operate and their confidence in their responsiveness as leaders. Participants report that meeting time has been cut in half and that meetings feel more purposeful; that they have the language they can use to communicate roles and accountabilities with their teams; and that they feel ready to be more collaborative and responsive to their district, school, and team needs.

“Run towards leadership development, because it’s an investment in your district that will provide you with return after return after return.”

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