Power To The People

Donna Teuber

Richland School District Two (Columbia, SC)
2014 Winner for Power to the People Award
About Power to the People Award

Empowers teachers, students and other administrators to take on leadership roles and participate actively in system-wide innovation.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

The R2 Innovates (http://r2innovates.blogspot.com) innovation incubator was created in the spring of 2013 to encourage Richland Two staff to develop new innovative practices which support our district priorities: learning, character, community and joy. Richland Two has a history of developing innovative classroom practices but many of those initiatives were developed at the administrative level and were not grassroots efforts. Our leadership believes that many teachers and staff members have great ideas and can bring positive change in Richland Two with the right mentoring, guidance and support. The R2 Innovates planning team seeks to identify staff with great ideas and works with innovation teams to put those ideas into actions. We look for ideas that will scale and can be replicated throughout the district.

The planning team researched innovative practices in education and traveled to Silicon Valley to connect with innovative educators and entrepreneurs. Innovation teams, selected through an application process, were required to make a first pitch of their idea to our founding members. Teams who made it through the first round of pitches were provided with a two day workshop to help them further develop their ideas through the design thinking process. After hard work and follow-up conversations, the teams made their final pitches in the new R2 Innovates space.

While some teams needed additional time to further develop their plans, nine teams moved into the implementation phase as our first cohort. With a startup mindset, the teams moved forward with rapid prototyping of MVPs for their first customers. After months of work, the teams came back together and began building their case studies with documentation of quantitative and qualitative results.

As the first teams continue to work, we have added eleven new teams for 2014-15 who are just beginning the design process. #r2innovates #RichlandTwo

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

As we had imagined, the first nine R2 Innovates teams implemented quickly, iterated, pivoted as needed, and are now scaling their innovations throughout the district. Teams were provided with mentors, time to work on their ideas, time to collaborate with other teams, and financial backing. Our first cohort of teams recently attended a graduation to reflect on and celebrate their successes as they begin scaling their initiatives. The teams developed awesome leadership skills and are acting as mentors to our new cohort, consulting with other schools on their innovations, and presenting at state and national conferences. These emerging leaders include a cafeteria manager, teachers, technology and learning coaches, media specialists, a planning manager, a principal, and a director of assessment and accountability.

Projects from 2013-14 included blended learning for middle school math, a new professional development model called Wreck That PD with badging and gamification, a district crowdfunding platform called CrowdEd, a district data mapping service providing customized maps to schools and departments, a school-wide recycling initiative, a media center maker space, a middle school student help desk called Google Geeks, a parent resource center, and a culinary program for elementary school students. Each team used the business canvas model to document work and also created case studies which include quantitative and qualitative data used to inform next steps.

R2 Innovates has created leaders from all segments of our organization and is building our capacity to prototype and scale initiatives that will have a lasting impact on learning, character, community and joy. We’ve developed a culture of innovation by allowing these leaders to try many solutions to solve complex problems, use data, and then scale successful projects across the district. My greatest joy has come from working with these teams and seeing their joy with each new discovery and possibility.