Ushering in Innovation
The Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) has expanded our reach, capability, and vision since Dr. Christine Mason started CEI as a nonprofit organization in 2010. CEI initially focused on instructional leadership and school improvement in schools overseas and urban schools in Washington, DC, and Ohio. Much of our work was with students who were four to seven years behind academically’”often from some of our nation’s poorest neighborhoods.
CEI is continuing to proactively engage our audiences with ideas for staying ahead, moving ahead, and thriving, even in the midst of educational debates, confusion, and chaos. We urge educational leaders to hold true to ideas that promote the dignity and worth of each individual student, initiatives that further hope, and decisions that empower building leaders and staff.
Early on, we intentionally engaged in school improvement initiatives funded by federal and state mandates. Our other focus back then was two-fold:
- Understand and dialogue with others about the promise of the Common Core State Standards
- Promote 21st century learning by helping schools become more relevant to students
The Wow! Ed newsletter archives and our 2010 EducationNow blog posts document this history. CEI staff delivered workshops and engaged in classroom conferencing and observations with a instructional leadership tool that CEI developed for iPad classroom observations and feedback to teachers. We also provided technical assistance directly to school principals and assistant principals. In 2015, while continuing to advance a national focus on 21st century learning and leadership, we are again drilling down to provide assistance to local communities.
Teachers, principals, and schools we have supported found that by applying our recommended scaffolding techniques along with recommendations for enhancing student engagement, the classroom dynamic often shifted and students become more willing participants in focusing on their academic learning. In a sense their learning became more meaningful.
One of the schools we assisted, Hospitality High School in Washington, DC, was recognized by Mayor Vincent C. Gray and State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley for making the largest gains in both reading and math in all of Washington, DC, in 2011.
From 2012-2013, CEI gained experience as the center for research and instructional leadership at the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the NAESP Foundation. During this time, CEI investigated best practices for elementary and middle school principals, targeting particularly NAESP’s National Mentor Training and Certification Program and also developing the capacity to strengthen Common Core Standards through ‘rigor’ in the classroom. We also expanded our training module offerings. NAESP’s support during this initial developmental period opened many doors for the initiatives that CEI is continuing to pursue.
On Dec. 2, 2013, Dr. Mason announced that CEI, thanks to the support from NAESP, which continues to provide invaluable seed funding, will be pursuing several specific research initiatives in the areas of rigor in the classroom; neuroscience; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and Heart Centered Learning™ (our signature approach to social emotional learning focusing on compassion, courage, confidence, consciousness, and community) and leadership. At the present time CEI continues to focus on innovations in schools using the latest research findings to assist school leaders as they work to improve their schools.