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Journey Toward Excellence
A Systemic Change Effort in the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township
Indianapolis, Indiana
Facilitated by Indiana University


The Indiana University facilitators, Charles Reigeluth and Roberto Joseph, began working with the Decatur Township on a volunteer basis in January 2001. A "Core Team" was formed in February 2001, by Superintendent Don Stinson with the help of the facilitators. The members of the Core Team included:

The Core Team met almost weekly to build a foundation for this unique kind of change process.
From March to May 2001, the Core Team worked on identifying core ideas and values that should guide the process of improving the Decatur Township Schools' ability to meet all children's needs. Those ideas and values place heavy emphasis on all stakeholders (parents, teachers, students, staff, administrators, employers, and other community members) reaching consensus on the changes that will benefit our children.

The Core Team was formed as a kind of "starter team" to help get all stakeholders involved in this Journey toward Excellence and to help them figure out together how to better meet our children's needs. In January of 2003, the Core Team expanded to include a much broader cross-section of all members of our community, and that expanded team is working with all stakeholders to design better learning experiences for all our children.

Community Forums

As the first step to getting all stakeholders involved in this Journey toward Excellence, the Core Team held six widely publicized meetings to which all community members were invited. The purpose of those meetings, which took place in January and February 2002, was to start to identify the educational needs of the Decatur students and community and how they have changed over the past generation or two. The Core Team then solicited public input about the results of those meetings, which were reported in a newspaper article and a newsletter.

Beginning in March 2002 the Core Team began analyzing the current and recent change efforts in the MSD Decatur Township schools. However, its work was put on hold during a contentious school board election (April and May). In June the Core Team worked on grant proposal planning and on further developing its understanding of systems thinking and the systemic change process. This was followed by planning for a one-day "School Leader Retreat," the purpose of which was to bring all school leaders (newly elected board members, central office staff, building principals, and teacher association leaders) up to date on what the Core Team was doing. The retreat was held in August, and participants went away feeling very excited about the change effort.

Leadership Team

Starting in September 2002, the Core Team began planning for expanding itself into a "Leadership Team" that includes almost 30 members for a much broader cross-section of all stakeholders in the community, and the new members were selected in late October and early November. The Leadership Team has developed and is using a set of Ground Rules for Communication. They are engaging in a review of the the data gathered in the Community Forums and have added their own observations. They have discussed their beliefs about education and are currently sharing the Belief Framework with the community.

Click here to meet the Leadership Team members.

©2006 by Charles Reigeluth
Last updated: June 21, 2006
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