Since joining the SCORE team as the director of strategic practice and data in August, I have been inspired by the commitment of Tennessee’s school leaders and teachers to do what is best for students in the face of the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. I am excited to continue working with the SCORE team to support them in their efforts this fall and beyond.
As the director of strategic practice and data, I work directly with leaders and practitioners to pilot and share innovative practices. So far, much of this work has been with SCORE’s COVID Innovation Recovery Network (CIRN), a group of six school districts across Tennessee focused on three big goals: ensuring a strong restart to school; accelerating learning, especially for the most vulnerable students; and building a strong bridge to postsecondary education for graduating high school seniors.
After working with district leaders to identify innovative strategies for tackling one of these goals, I then help engage principals and teachers at selected school pilot sites in short innovation cycles to implement and refine these strategies. I also help document and share our successful innovations with other school districts in the CIRN network and across Tennessee. Whether it has been finding new ways of engaging middle and high school students in virtual math instruction or rethinking programs and interventions to support high school seniors through the college transition process, leaders in the CIRN network continue to find innovative ways to support student success.
In my role on the SCORE team, I am fortunate to work on and learn from projects across the K-12 to postsecondary continuum. In addition to working with our CIRN school districts, I continue to learn more about early literacy and the importance of high-quality instructional materials from the great work being done by the 20 districts in the LIFT Network. I also get to leverage my previous experience working in college access and persistence with KIPP to work on postsecondary-focused projects, such as drafting a Data Playbook that can be used by school districts and practitioners to strengthen the way they support students on their path to postsecondary education.
I am grateful to be part of a team whose core values align closely with my own. As a former teacher and principal, I know firsthand the importance of operating with a student focus. Now, as the parent of two young children who will be starting school soon, I am even more passionate about ensuring that all students — regardless of their race, geography, or income — receive an excellent education that will prepare them for lives of opportunity and choice. Members of the SCORE team share this same passion. The question is always the same for everyone on the team: What is best for students?
Collaboration is another value that is evident in the day-to-day work of the SCORE team. Although our work is currently virtual, our team continues to connect and collaborate on a daily and weekly basis, and I continue to learn something new every day from my incredibly smart, capable, and passionate colleagues.
The challenges brought by COVID-19 have made the last year one unlike any other. Amid these challenges, I am excited to continue to learn and work alongside remarkable leaders, teachers, and SCORE team members as we endeavor together to do what is best for students.
Richard Bailey is SCORE’s director of strategic practice and data.