Three existing Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) could offer their students new and innovative curriculum because of a new state law and the involvement on The Mind Trust. Th new law allows IPS to create Innovation Sch0ols which would replace a current IPS “underused or chronically low-performing school”. These Innovation Network Schools would be autonomy from IPS regulations, but have access to the districts resources and be considered IPS Schools. Innovation Network schools wouldn’t be magnet schools, but schools designed for students in the neighborhoods surrounding the school. The Mind Trust accepted applications from over fifty individuals applying for Innovative Fellowships, which allow for up to two years of study and planning for new types of innovative schools for IPS. In an exclusive extended live interview, the first four Innovation School Fellows appeared live on Afternoons with Amos to explain their educational philosophies and how they plan to create these potentially new exiting schools for IPS students and parents.
Appearing on the program were: Lauren Franklin, a K-12 alumna of IPS and 15-year district educator. The past four years, Franklin has been Principal at Francis W. Parker Montessori School and turned that from an “F” school to an “A” school. Franklin plans to launch a Montessori inspired school serving students in kindergarten through 12th grades, with intensive wraparound services and enrichment outside of school hours, including counseling services, healthy meals, and activities such as theatre and drama.
Earl Martin Phalen and Marlon Llewellyn will work as a team to launch IPS’ first “blended learning” school combining cutting-edge technology with excellent classroom instruction to tailor to kindergarten through sixth grade students’ individual needs. The school will be modeled after Phalen’s current Phalen Academy charter school. A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School, Phalen has worked for 20 years as an nationally recognized education entrepreneur. Among his initiatives is the summer learning program Summer Advantage. Marlon Llewellyn, is a Ball State graduate who’s a veteran educator and currently Dean of Scholars at Arlington High School. He has over a decade experience working in school districts, including IPS.
Heather Tsavaris brings an unconventional background to the Innovation Network. As a senior intelligence analyst with the US State Department, Tsavaris studied the motivations of young people joining terrorist groups and as a result learned that many young people were compelled by a sense of belonging and an opportunity to contribute to a cause. An MBA, Tsavaris learned that entrepreneurship provides youth the same sense of positive contribution and can divert them from negative involvements. Her middle school plan builds on that theory. She hopes to create a learning environment centered on entrepreneurship that motivates students to learn, challenge them to be critical thinkers, and help prevent them from participating in negative behaviors, such as dropping out of school. Click the Media Player to Hear Amos’ Enlightening, Provocative Interview with IPS’ First Innovation Network Fellows. Runs 40 Minutes ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.