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Leading for School Improvement Institute


The Leading for School Improvement Institute provides customized support to school leaders to improve school performance. Participants engage in a year-long, job-embedded professional learning experience grounded in effective practices for school improvement. School leaders are provided Leadership coaches to support application of effective practices for school improvement.  In-depth training is provided on identifying needs, data-informed decision making, improving student outcomes, engaging the community, and transforming instruction and school culture. Participants function as a community of practice led by leadership coaches to support the continuous improvement cycle.


School leaders are selected to participate based on school performance. Any school identified for comprehensive support and improvement will be required to participate in the Leading for School Improvement Institute. Participants attend state-wide convenings quarterly for in-depth professional learning experiences and the opportunity to engage with other comprehensive support and improvement school leaders as a community of practice. Resources and materials from the leading for school improvement institute statewide convenings can be accessed below.

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"Principals are second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school."

-Kenneth Leithwood

How Leadership Influences Student Learning

University of Minnesota, University of Toronto, 2004

Leading for School Improvement Institute by Date of Convening

Leading for School Improvement Institute Resources by Topic

Resource & Materials
  • Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Intervention Planning

    •  May 30, 2019​

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Click image to access the Powerpoint

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Click image to access the Powerpoint for Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools

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Click image to access the Powerpoint

  • Exploring the Coaching Leadership Relationship

    • Connect, Collaborate, Coach with balloon brainstorm activity​ in setting individual and leadership team goals. (Powerpoint)

    • The Art of Coaching Teams, by Elena Aguilar, was provided to each school team and MSDE leadership coach. 

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Click image to access the Powerpoint

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Click image to access the Powerpoint

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Click image to access Bain report

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Click on the image to access the booklet

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Click on image to find more resources on the Four Domains of Rapid School Improvement

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

  • Community Advisory Councils

    • This resource offers school leaders information and purpose in forming a community advisory council comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders who are continuously engaged over a period of time to advise school leadership on critical issues, on behalf of the school community.

    • Community Advisory Teams: Engaging With a Purpose template (PDF) facilitated by Felicia Brown, Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, WestEd

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

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Click on the image to access the Word document

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

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Click on the image to access the Word document

  • Assessing School Culture 

    • Examines the importance of school culture and explores values and beliefs of school leaders.   

    • Presented by the College of Notre Dame  of Maryland University, College of Education

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Click image to access the Powerpoint

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

  • Star Ratings and Communication Support

    • This information explains how schools are identified under ESSA for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement. Resources include Maryland's star ratings using the accountability system with indicators at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. 

    • Communications Toolkit for central office, school-based leaders, and other stakeholders can be downloaded by visiting the Stakeholder Engagement and Communication web page 

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint


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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

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Click on the image to access the Powerpoint

Leading for School Improvement Institute Leadership Coaches

Leadership Coaches

Leadership coaching is a professional learning experience for school leaders aimed at enhancing their professional practice to improve school performance. Leadership coaching is a strategy used by the Office of Leadership Development and School Improvement that supports Maryland administrators to apply the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders to their work.  Coaching provides school leaders with customized support that is tailored to meet their professional needs in a risk-free and non-evaluative environment. Leadership coaching is designed to provide a customized professional learning experience for a school leader that leads to measurable improvement in performance and improved student outcomes in the schools in which they lead.   

The Maryland State Department of Education’s Leadership Coaching Guide was developed to provide common foundation and clear expectations for the implementation of effective coaching practices. This guide is designed to help Maryland State Department of Education Leadership Coaches and principal supervisors foster the growth of effective school leaders.


Dr. Felicia Lanham Tarason is a School Leadership and Turnaround Support Specialist for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). In this position, she provides leadership and technical assistance to school systems to improve school performance.  Prior to joining MSDE, she was the Title I Director for Baltimore County Public Schools where she implemented a systematic and coordinated process for comprehensive school reform. She also has experience as a teacher, counselor, pupil personnel worker, assistant principal, principal, and director for Montgomery County Public Schools.


Dr. Mary Minter has over 17 years of experience, having served as a teacher, principal, area academic officer, and chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools. Dr. Minter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Morgan State University; a Master of Science in Administration Supervision from Morgan State University; and an Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.


Rudy Martinez has worked in education for over 45 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and leadership director. Mr. Martinez earned his Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Our Lady of the Lake University.


Helen Shelton has worked as principal, academic director, and executive director of principal support and accountability in Baltimore City. Ms. Shelton earned a Master’s Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Loyola College, and is currently working on a PhD in educational leadership from Nova Southern University.


Lorna Klokkenga is an educator with more than 30 years of public school experience, including teacher staff development, curriculum development, and school administration. Ms. Klokkenga received her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio.


Carolyn Smith has 29 years of experience as a teacher, senior teacher, curriculum specialist, staff developer, and principal in Baltimore City Public Schools. Mrs. Smith spent 17 years in Baltimore County Public Schools as an area school supervisor, equity lead, and principal. Mrs. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary school education from the University of Maryland, and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in reading. Mrs. Smith has been a leadership coach with the Maryland State Department of Education for over three years.


Cedric Thompson has a record of improving school, working as teacher, program manager, chief of schools, and chief executive office for diverse urban school districts. Mr. Thompson earned a Master’s of Education in Divergent Learning from Columbia College, and is currently working on a PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of Maryland.

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Kimberly Buckheit worked as an elementary and middle school principal for sixteen years in Maine. During this time, she was recognized as a National Distinguished Principal, Middle Level Principal of the Year, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals Breakthrough School Principal. She earned her leadership degree from Goucher College.

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