Excellence. Equity. And All Means All.
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Issue 14, September 2014

September brings the excitement of a new school year along with a fresh supply of pencils with pink erasers waiting to be sharpened. The possibilities are endless!  Honed points filling the pages with thoughts and ideas about ALL Means ALL remind us of opportunities for ongoing improvement.  In this issue, we share excitement from Mississippi about two new superintendents who bring energy and passion for student success into their districts, and a third superintendent who continues to improve on last year’s good work.  We also bring possibilities for you to share your thoughts and ideas with the SWIFT community of practice through a book discussion and a national conference. We invite you to bring along others into this community with a new video and the feature “Overheard in SWIFT Schoolyards.”  We hope you will agree, the possibilities for schoolwide equity and excellence are endless, and we look forward seeing how our SWIFT partners “fill their pages” this year!

On the Same Page in Mississippi:
Meridian, Sunflower, & North Panola


The Mississippi Educational Team is heading into its second year in partnership with the SWIFT Center. Included on this team are three amazing superintendents who are committed to transforming their districts’ systems to align with SWIFT domains and features for schools where ALL Means ALL. Keep reading to get (re)acquainted with Alvin Taylor, Debra Dace, and Cedric Richardson.

Meridian Public School District

After seven superintendents in ten years, one principal equated the Meridian Public School District with a system on life support. Today, as Dr. Alvin Taylor begins his fourth year in the district and for the first time in 10 years, no child in Meridian will go to a school with an "F" rating. Taylor and the district staff have worked to create a climate where students and teachers make positive strides daily. To support this effort, SWIFT partners came along side the team to develop a shared vision and craft a set of core beliefs. Using a strengths-based approach, 50 district leaders and school administrators discovered and shared their own strengths and determined the district’s purpose and common values:  Prepare all students in partnership with parents and the community to be literate, self-directed learners with the confidence and character to compete in a complex and ever changing world. Further, they plan to share with the community a comprehensive set of core values to enhance internal and external communication, improve student achievement in both literacy and math, and ensure that schools continue to meet the needs of ALL students. This year, Meridian has work groups that are working to build capacity related to all SWIFT features, with particular emphasis on Inclusive Academic Instruction, Fully Integrated Organizational Structure, and a Strong LEA/School Relationship.

Sunflower County Consolidated School District

The Board of Trustees of the Sunflower County Consolidated School District appointed Dr. Debra Dace as the first superintendent of the newly consolidated district, which now includes seven SWIFT partner schools. Dace’s 22 years of successful education experience include teaching, serving as principal, and most recently, serving as Curriculum and Testing Coordinator in a district near Sunflower County. Dace is excited to be back in the county where her teaching career began and is looking forward to using her years of experience to support and advance the district’s mission: "Where Every Child Will Learn." Dace is a collaborative leader who believes in including all staff in district strategic planning because, as she says, “Two heads are better than one.” In all that she does, she wants to practice Stephen Covey's idea of “Seeking first to understand and then to be understood.”  Dace views the SWIFT partnership as an opportunity to "fine-tune" district-wide expectations and support Sunflower Consolidated schools with a focus on team building and student outcomes for ALL. She is looking forward to a partnership where together our efforts will support success and benefit ALL.

North Panola School District

In July, the North Panola School District welcomed Mr. Cedric Richardson as Superintendent, and his transformational leadership is already taking shape in and around the community. He wants to challenge and inspire the greater North Panola community to ensure that every child receives a quality education and is prepared for the 21st century. He has a proven history of doing just that as a principal who led a high school to their first ever Mississippi State Department of Education’s “High Performing” accountability rating. Richardson’s vision for North Panola schools is to increase student achievement until it is an "A"-Rated District with ALL "A"-Rated schools. He believes the district not only has to meet the needs of all students, but should create an environment where students can excel and grow, and where students from disadvantaged backgrounds open their eyes to career paths they may not have considered. He expressed excitement about the district’s partnership with SWIFT, and believes that this collaboration can help facilitate and support the vision and mission for North Panola schools. The SWIFT framework supports development of the infrastructure to transform schools by creating effective and sustainable practices, and building the capacity of instructional leaders, principals, educators, and community partners. Richardson believes that this work will pay off in the long run through helping others to understand the district’s mission, articulating its goals, and empowering the community to support a vision of a quality education for ALL.  

“We are ONE school separated by 13 buildings where we want to ensure that ALL means ALL.”
-Dr. Alvin Taylor, Superintendent of Meridian Public Schools

Spend time with SWIFT and TASH in Washington, DC, December 3-5, 2014

Register now for the early-bird rate for the 2014 TASH Annual Conference! SWIFT will be offering an entire strand on inclusive education, a keynote presentation, and provocative discussion opportunities during the Inclusive Education Town Hall.


Have you joined the SWIFT
Book Club?


Follow SWIFT Schools on
Good Reads and join our current conversation about the book "White Teachers/Diverse Classrooms" moderated by Elizabeth Kozleski from the Equity Alliance. We will be discussing students’ diversity and providing true educational equity. What books are YOU reading on these topics?  Lets keep these conversations alive.
ALL Means ALL video now available on swiftschools.org

If you are planning a professional development event and looking for a 3-minute inspirational video clip to motivate participants to think about including ALL students, check out the SWIFT Center website and download the ALL Means ALL video.  As always, our website is updated regularly with new research and resources to support the learning and academic achievement of ALL students, including those with the most extensive needs. 

Overheard in SWIFT Schoolyards

The following quotes were made by educators and administrators discussing their work implementing the SWIFT framework:

“Team teaching is going to make the biggest difference for our students with disabilities.  And we got this training just at the right time.  Now we are ready to start the year off right for ALL students.” 

“Thanks SWIFT for the training at the start of the year.  I appreciate the focused approach to the topics important for paraprofessionals supporting students in classrooms.  I wish all teachers could get the same presentation as I think it would help them to better understand what ALL Means ALL means.”  

“WOW, this is the first district that I have worked in that I can get a sense from all of the district level administration that they mean ALL Means ALL.  Every presenter at the New Teacher Induction Week spoke to serving all students, that we are a team and all a part of the community.  Well done!”  

“If we focus on what the data tell us regarding behavior and attend to that, then we will also be attending to student engagement –that must hit a couple of features, right?”  
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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: National Center for Schoolwide Inclusive School Reform: The SWIFT Center. (2014). SWIFT News, Issue 14, September 2014. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.
SWIFT Center
1315 Wakarusa Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049