May 2015 • Issue 21 View & Print
SWIFT Center National Leadership Consortium

SWIFT National Leadership Consortium

May 7, 2015 was “the best professional day of her life,” announced Dr. Amy McCart, SWIFT’s Director of Technical Assistance, at the end of the first day of the SWIFT National Leadership Consortium (NLC) conference. Why? Because she saw a turning point take place, where SWIFT was “owned” by attending state partners who so clearly explained and embodied the meaning of SWIFT.

Educational leaders communicated with the Center’s content teams about the impact to-date of SWIFT among their districts, schools, students, families, and communities. They openly shared how the Center might expand and improve technical assistance and other coaching support during the states’ transformations into integrated educational systems. “It is truly exciting for a technical assistance center to be in such deep conversations with its constituents,” said McCart. Thanks to Michael McSheehan, SWIFT LEA Facilitator Coordinator, who set up an amazing process in which these conversations were possible, and to all who participated.

The next SWIFT National Leadership Consortium will take place the first week of November 2015. We are already looking forward to seeing the great strides that will be made as SWIFT begins to scale-up in our partner states.

Did You Know...?

Did you know that the SWIFT Center is currently supporting 25,644 students? And with these 25,644 students we know that families and communities need to be engaged in the transformation process because this is the way for student and school success.


Do you engage with social media outlets? If so, which forums do you most use to stay connected to the global community of inclusive education?



Coming Soon! A pre-release version of the SWIFT Feature Introduction Guide, or "SWIFT-FIG," took center stage on the second day of the National Leadership Consortium (NLC). The SWIFT-FIG — scheduled for release in time for Fall 2015 — provides tools to teach others about the 10 SWIFT features, and offers links to helpful resources for implementing these features in schools. During the NLC, a dozen small interdisciplinary teams of SEA representatives, SWIFT Advisory Group members, and content team members evaluated this online product in terms of quality, usefulness, and relevance. Dr. Allyson Satter, who is leading development of this product, said, “Thank you to everyone. We walked away with some great guidance that will help make SWIFT-FIG even better.”

SWIFT Social Media

Are you a member of any social media communities? If so, SWIFT Center offers a multitude of opportunities to connect with resources that can assist you in your schoolwide transformation efforts. Our Facebook community is approaching 2,000 members and offers daily posts about events happening in our partner schools, highlights in the field of inclusive education and schoolwide transformation, and links to new resources. Check out the SWIFT You Tube channel for SWIFT films highlighting All Means All. Connect with SWIFT via Twitter using #SWIFTSchools, and of course, share this newsletter with your colleagues to continue to promote the efforts to welcome and support every member in their school community.

Bridge to Inclusiveness

Do you create materials (PowerPoints, websites, etc.) to promote inclusive education? If you would like to know whether your website, media, and literature meets the federal government's standards for accessibility, review the sources included in this link for guidance on creating literature and media materials for everyone.


In our recent SWIFT Quick Poll, we asked, “What is the number one resource you are looking for to promote inclusive education?” Your answers did not surprise us! The majority of you said you are looking for more classroom strategy resources, with "resources to support family and community involvement" coming in at a close second. Stay tuned for the upcoming SWIFT Feature Implementation Guide, which is sure to be chock full of classroom strategies. In the meantime, be sure to check out the SWIFT Pinterest page for lots of ideas about classroom strategies and family/community involvement.

ALT TEXT State Spotlight:

Moving Mountains in Sisters, Oregon - by Jessica Meisenheimer

The Sisters School District in Sisters, Oregon is the heart of their quaint western-themed town at the base of the Cascade Mountains. The district’s rich tradition of connecting with families and the community runs deep and provides students with learning experiences in and outside the classroom. District-wide, an amazing 350 community and family members volunteer for the benefit of approximately 1,100 students. Unique programs supported by volunteer efforts and fundraising through the Sisters Schools Foundation are not hard to find. For example, the Sisters Science Club funds teaching positions for scientists in the community to provide outdoor science education and an annual science fair. The Family Access Network is based out of the school district office to see that every community member’s basic needs are met so that each student comes to school prepared to learn.

A few years ago, the demographic profile of Sisters began to shift, with increasing numbers of Hispanic families joining the community and students entering the schools with limited English proficiency. Close examination of the data revealed an achievement gap between students of Hispanic decent and students of European decent. Suddenly, “serving all families” took on a new meaning for Sisters. Superintendent Jim Golden acknowledged that “there is no reason that all students can’t achieve at the same levels, and therefore, we need to put resources towards this and all realize that the dominant culture is not the only culture.” To ensure the Sisters school environment was welcoming to all—including Hispanic families who were new to the Sisters community—Superintendent Golden took a close look at district policies and resources, and launched several transformative programs—three of which are described here.

Transformation 1: Create a welcoming and trusting school environment for all.

Superintendent Golden hired a full-time Hispanic Family Advocate, Ruth Jones. Her primary objective is to increase the participation of Hispanic and non-English speaking families in the everyday operations of the school. Ms. Jones welcomes families at the door of the schools each day, translates written and verbal information into Spanish for families, and links families to services in the community. Daily participation of Hispanic families in the life of the school increased dramatically. Ms. Jones reports, “It’s already made a huge difference. Hispanic parents now walk into the building; they’re not just dropping the kids off. They come in every day to talk about issues similar to those of other parents. These families now are able to feel this is their school, too. Every day they walk in and say things like, ‘Hey, my son brought this home’ or ‘My daughter did this.’” Becky Stoughton, Elementary School Principal and Special Programs Director, observes an increase of parental engagement throughout the district due to efforts of all staff to create welcoming school environments.

Ruth Jones, Hispanic Family Advocate

ABOVE: Ruth Jones, Hispanic Family Advocate

Transformation 2: Educate and prepare Hispanic students and families for college.

The Juntos program teaches the importance of a college education and provides examples of the various jobs students can acquire with a college degree. Each month, the Juntos program convenes and educates families about how to prepare their children for college, assists with college applications, and finds scholarship opportunities. The success of the program is undeniable. This year, all graduating seniors involved with Juntos have submitted a college application for the fall.

Transformation 3: Increase Hispanic representation in Sisters School District.

Sisters partnered with Oregon State University to create a Teacher Cadet program. Four Hispanic seniors who are considering careers as educators currently spend one hour every day at the elementary school working with teachers and students. While earning college credit, the Teacher Cadets get hands-on experience relating to the daily routine of a teacher. The goal is to inspire the Teacher Cadets to pursue their educational career in Sisters.

Learn more about the work in Sisters, Oregon.

ABOVE: Sisters School District Office
RIGHT: Sisters High School

Schoolyard Quotes


"SWIFT is a framework that allows us to purposefully look at our current strengths and areas of opportunities. The SWIFT framework also gives us direction in our relentless commitment to academic achievement along with the personal and social growth of ALL our students." -- Principal

"We believe in the idea that we all can teach all students (ERC, ELL, ILS, General Ed) and we don't have to separate kids into different settings for instruction. In addition, we appreciate the change in mindset that all kids are different, there really is no "normal," and everyone has their varying strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has a gift to share." -- Elementary co-teaching partners

"I am encouraged by the depth at which we have analyzed our school. It has opened my eyes to all of the great things we are doing, and has shined a light on how we can improve. I anxiously wait as we move from analyzing, to the execution of our school improvement plans. I think the SWIFT process has helped us hold the reins back before we take off. In the past, it seemed like we just jumped from one “fire” to the next. SWIFT gives us a structure to see how we are doing in all areas and prioritize our improvement strategies. A kind of slowdown to go fast model. It just makes sense." -- Teacher

Swift Talk
Community of Practice

As a key feature in schoolwide transformation, this month's SWIFT Talk focuses on parent engagement. Sassy Southern Girl reintroduces Rachel as she navigates the world of friendship, and new blogger, Beth Dixon, shares how the words from her son's kindergarten teacher guided his entire academic career. Our ongoing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) series continues to promote strategies for UDL and has influenced countless educators to try new strategies in their classrooms to support and welcome all students! Enjoy and as always, share your thoughts in the comment section of SWIFT Talk.

The SWIFT Center produced this document under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H325Y120005. OSEP Project Officers Grace Zamora Durán and Tina Diamond served as the project officers. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred. This product is public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: SWIFT Center. (2015). SWIFT News, Issue 21, May 2015. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.

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