Professional Portfolio Archive

This page is an archive of the Professional Portfolio I developed to substantiate my proficiency in six standards (Vision, Instruction and Professional Development, Management, Partnerships, Ethics, and Policy) in fulfillment of the culminating internship experience for EDL 770 for the Educational Specialist program at Grand Valley State University in 2011. It previously existed as six separate pages, which are presented in their entirety on this page. My goal was to create this portfolio in a completely digital format. To view samples of my work, you can link to my documents and presentations housed in Google Drive. Some of the links are several years old and over time page links can become broken. As of this update, 4-19-14, they were all working. However, if you encounter a problem, please let me know.

Standard 1.0 Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a school or district vision of learning supported by the school community.
An effective educational leader must be able to facilitate the development of a unifying vision that consolidates the school community around common beliefs, values and purpose. Developing a vision is not a one time event; it is an evolutionary process which requires planning, collaboration, dialogue as well as action and continual monitoring. Visionary leadership works to provide all stakeholders with the capacity and agency needed for a learning community to move forward to ensure the success of all students. Is vision top-down, or bottom-up? Larry Lashway (1997, ERIC Clearinghouse) describes it this way:
Many people assume vision springs from the mind of a strong leader with the imagination, energy, and charisma to jump-start the organization into a major transformation. Others advocate a shared process in which everyone is a co-author. However, "either/or" thinking may be counterproductive.
Clearly, the principal plays a pivotal role in shaping the vision--sometimes single-handedly. In the hands of an articulate, persuasive leader, a distinctive personal vision may be far more attractive than a something-for-everyone group product. As long as the vision is one that people in the organization can embrace, authorship is irrelevant (Fritz). However, principals with "heroic" inclinations must be willing to release personal ownership when the time comes for implementation, or teachers will not commit to it (Conley).
There are also good reasons to involve teachers at the outset, since they are the ones who must ultimately translate abstract ideas into practical classroom applications, and they can do this better when they are actively involved in developing the vision (Conley and colleagues).
The vision statement for my school district is "Empowering individuals to positively impact their world", and the vision statement for my elementary school is "Families are our business." During fall of 2010 through the efforts of guidance counselor Janice B. and impact leader Dionne O., a new committee was formed. In it's earliest stages, this committee was called "Project Graduation 2023" and its initial focus was on this year's entering Kindergarteners. I joined this committee at its inception. Early in the process, the group had many great ideas yet lacked clear focus and vision. It is the hope of the committee that it will be able to impact not only students at our elementary school, but the entire district. Staff from each of our buildings, K-12 were invited and encouraged to be a part of this process. The superintendent of schools was also a member of this group.

One of my contributions to the group was to help guide them to develop focus and vision. I was able to use a number of resources from the education leadership course, EDL 720, Organizational and Community Relations. One of the most helpful resources was Making the difference: Research and practice in community schools, published by the Coalition for Community Schools (2003). The group was hoping to provide opportunities for parents to come together for social time to network that would include a series of courses on topics of interest to parents.

One of the immediate difficulties in developing a vision was the wide range of beliefs and ideas among the members of the group. We were able to develop a vision statement that everyone was happy with. The process of developing this vision statement was a continuous process over several meetings during which I helped them to chart all of the ideas and beliefs. Once that was accomplished, we looked for those that were held in common. Below is the vision statement and a mission statement that resulted from this session.
Vision Statement
All FCS students will have the capacity for success for high school graduation and beyond.
Initial Mission Statement
We will build early and lasting relationships with families, students, community and staff.
The mission of the Coordinated School 
Health Coordinators Association is to promote 
the health of children and their families in 
Michigan through leadership and advocacy 
for coordinated school health programming.
In the meantime, Dionne and the superintendent of schools attended a conference at the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District on Coordinated School Health Programs (CSHP). A Coordinated School Health Program consists of eight interactive components: health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling, psychological and social services, healthy school environment, health promotion for faculty and staff, and parent/community involvement. Their belief is that health and education go hand in hand, and that schools by themselves cannot and should not be expected to address the most serious health and social problems alone.

A meeting was initiated by the superintendent of FCS that included stakeholders from each of the eight CSHP components to present information about CSHP and to determine if there was interest to all join together. Members of Project 2023 were included as well. After a second meeting It was agreed that we would join together to form a larger coalition and adopt the CSHP model. The members of Project Graduation agreed that the vision and mission of the CSHP model as well as the eight components fit well with the vision statement, and in fact, allowed for the diversity of interests within the group.

At a third meeting led by the curriculum director, we watched a video presentation by Dr. Pat Cooper from the McComb School District in Mississippi, which has successfully implemented this model of school improvement, identified programs or events that already exist and placed them in one of the eight components. Subcommittees were formed for each component. This will be a continuing process for our district, as we move forward from the committee to the community.

It was exciting to be a part of the process, from the inception of Project Graduation 2023 to its merging with the Coordinated School Health Program. It was an excellent example of the evolutionary nature of envisioning the path for a school district.

Additional Educational Specialist course work demonstrating 
proficiency in Standard I:

I was also part of a three-member team that created a vision for a model elementary school---the KTS Elementary School---that was part of the course work for EDG 710. Click on the image to view the presentation.

Part of a five-member team, I helped  create this vision for blended courses for a high school for EDL 700. Click on the image to view the presentation.

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Instruction and Professional Development

Standard 2.0:  Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by promoting a positive school culture, providing an effective instructional program, applying best practice to student learning, and designing comprehensive professional growth plans for staff. 

Technology Demonstration Classroom

Demonstration Cart in my
My district passed a bond issue last year which will advance the technology capabilities of the district. The bond issue called for providing up to date technology for all classrooms which would include a document camera, data projector, sound system and speakers, hardware, software and an appropriate cart to house this equipment. Because the infrastructure and electrical work needed to support these upgrades has not yet been completed, during the 2010 – 2011 school year, each building will have a designated technology “demonstration classroom”, with full implementation slated for the 2011 – 2012 school year. Last summer when I became aware that there would be a demonstration classroom in my building, I approached my building principal and the director of technology about my interest in having my classroom be designated the demonstration classroom. In late August, it was confirmed that my room is the demonstration classroom for my elementary building. It was the goal of the technology director to have the "smart carts" with all equipment installed in the five demonstration classrooms in October, however carts were not installed until January, and one classroom was installed in late February.

In addition,  our new student management system and grade book which was adopted by all districts within the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District experienced significant integration issues. These issues were significant to the extent that official count day student counts were not accurate, student records were not accurate and were not able to be seamlessly integrated. In addition, the grade book was not able to upload grades from grade books into report cards. There have also been formatting and printing issues. Report cards for 2nd trimester were delayed while these issues were being resolved.

My proposal was to develop professional development opportunities for staff in the application of integrating technology, effective instruction and data collection through our new student management system and grade book, Pinnacle/Global Scholar.

The combination of delays in the installation of the technology carts and the integration difficulties required that I revise my activities for Standard 2.0.

In addition to being one of the technology demonstration classrooms, my revised activities were 1) active participation as one of the five technology lead teachers on the district technology adoption committee; 2) a book study Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, (2007) H. Pitler, E. Hubble, and M. Kuhn (ASCD); 3) writing a technology mini-grant, that is supported with research from Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works; 4) attending the 2011 annual conference of the Michigan Users of Computers in Learning (MACUL);  5) updating building staff regarding progress of the committee; and 6) presenting at Grand Valley State University's Conversations Among Colleagues/Math In Action conference, entitled "Shrinky Dink Data".

The experience I gained from being one of the five lead teachers on the technology adoption committee was extremely valuable. In addition to five lead teachers, this committee consisted of the technology director and other district technology support staff. We began by reviewing the initial requests for purchase (RFP) for the five demonstration rooms and selected five from a field of eight. The RFPs for the demonstration rooms were deliberately non-specific for brands or models, however they were specific for capabilities and technological requirements. The intent was to have a variety of components to compare. We met in each others' classrooms for demonstration, training sessions and help an open house for district staff and school board members. We then met to determine which components would be part of the final RFP and reviewed the RFP before it was posted to the public. Once the final bids were in, we gave our feedback to the technology director as part of the process of determining which bids would be entertained. We have narrowed the selection to three vendors and they will be meeting with the technology director on April 19, 2011. A list of questions was also developed by the team.

The district sent the committee to the MACUL 2011 conference. A review of my experience can be found on the home page of this blog, and also provided a full day training for Moodle 101 and 102.

The second part of my proposal for Standard 2.0 was to become trained in the Kent Intermediate School District's (KISD) Curriculum Crafter Tool. I attended two 1 hour training sessions at the district high school, as well as a half-day training for elementary teachers. These professional development sessions were facilitated by a representative from KISD. Curriculum Crafter Tool has been very helpful, particularly when searching for State GLCEs and Common Core State Standards. Much more work needs to be done by the district, especially at the elementary level.

Additional Educational Specialist course work demonstrating my proficiency in Standard II:

Data Based Decision-making, Final Project for EDL 715 "From Fast Reading to SMART Reading"

Professional Development Plan, Final Project for EDG 754

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Standard 3.0:  Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the operations, and resources in a way that promotes a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment.

One area for improvement that is evident from the survey taken at the beginning of this course is in the area of financial management of the organization, understanding the budgeting process, understanding school district finance structures and system for financing public schools.  Because my coursework has been in the area of curriculum development rather than the superintendency, I have not taken the course in school finance.  However, my undergraduate degree from Aquinas College is a double major in Business Administration and Accounting and I have passed the CPA exam.  I did not acquire the required number of hours of work experience in order to practice as a CPA in the state of Michigan (some states do not require work experience prior to CPA designation). My experience as a staff accountant included one school audit.
To further my proficiency in this area, I continued to serve on the district Instructional Council, district Facilities Committee and I interviewed two principals, one elementary, one secondary as well as a school district financial manager. The Technology Lead Teacher Committee  (see Instruction and Professional Development section above) was a subgroup of the district facilities committee, although the Facilities Committee has not met during this school year. 

Summary of School Budget Interviews

Managing school funds is a challenge for both school principals and district financial managers, especially in the current recession. All three of the individuals interviewed have been managing school budgets for at least seven years. The financial manager has the most experience, with 18 years, although was new to the district. It was interesting interviewing individuals at three different levels withing a school district. At the highest level of responsibility, the school financial manager manages the largest amount in terms of dollars and departments. The secondary principal manages the next largest amount and the elementary principal is responsible for the least.

When determining priorities, each had a different focus and a different set of stakeholders with which they collaborate. The financial manager collaborates and takes direction primarily from the school board, superintendent, keeping in mind collective bargaining agreements. At the high school level, the principal works with department chair and previous years' budget to set priorities. The elementary principal's focus is at the building and grade level.

All expressed challenges that go beyond the current state and federal budget crisis. Each one indicated a need to stay current with the day to day requirements and balances in their accounts while keeping the long term in mind. In other words, guarding funds and making sure they last throughout the entire school year, and making sure the funds are allocated to have the largest impact on student learning.

 The biggest frustration at all levels appears to be not having access to all of the information needed to make the best decisions. At the district level is having to make decisions and set a budget for the following year without knowing what the state is going to allocate per pupil--this is also a frustration for building principals. At the elementary and high school building level, that uncertainty comes from central office. As they say, everything rolls downhill, from the federal government to the state, from the state to the district, and on down to each district building. Other potential building level frustrations include line items being taken away without explanation, changes in the rules from the federal and state government after the school year has begun, insufficient access to the individuals who are managing the district accounts, (for example, the ISD manages accounts payable), and district level Title 1 directors that retain control of Title 1 funds despite it being a site-based (building) program.

All had the same advice for a new principal or school financial manager:

*take time to get to know the particular routines/accounts
*don't make drastic changes the first year-it's okay to maintain status quo until you are familiar with the district, the budget, and the process
*monitor budget frequently
*ask lots of questions
*use budget from the previous years to help monitor and allocate funds
*be cautious--others may try to take advantage of someone new 

Instructional Council 

The District's curriculum development is managed through the leadership of the Instructional Council and is facilitated by the curriculum director. It consists of a wide range of stakeholders: a building representative from each building, building principals, special education, union representative, school board representative, as well as parent and high school student representation. The council operates under Administrative Guidelines Section 2210a determined by school board bylaws and policies. With budget cuts, Instructional Council has been meeting this year only if there are immediate instructional decisions that need to go on to the school board for approval. This year the council heard first and second readings and approved several new courses for the high school:  Dance II, Advanced Placement English Language and Composition A, B, and C., and Honors U. S. History. There has been continued discussion around the new state requirement of 2 years of a foreign language and the best way to meet that requirement: 8th grade Spanish vs. Modern Cultures and allowing high school credit, or only offering at the high school level, how to handle the Common Core State Standards adopted by the state, and the Resource Selection Cycle, which has been temporarily put on hold due to budget cuts.

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Standard 4.0:  Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by collaborating with families and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources.

A school district is an integral part of the community in which it operates and it is essential that school leadership partner with staff, parents, students, community and  business to promote the highest success of its students.
The activities I participated in during my internship experience to meet proficiency in Standard IV were coordinated with Standard I activities (See Vision section above).

Additional Educational Leadership Course Work that demonstrates proficiency:

EDG 720  Organizational and Community Relations Final Project "Community Kindergarten Readiness Project"

EDG 720 Journal Entry Responses:

Journal Entry 1
Journal Entry 2
Journal Entry 3
Journal Entry 4
Journal Entry 5

Other Resources: Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools (pdf)

Coalition for Community Schools 

National Network of Partnership Schools 

Developing and Sustaining Research-Based Programs of School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Summary of Five Years of NNPS Research (pdf), Joyce L. Epstein (2005)

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Standard 5.0:  Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by acting with integrity, fairly and in an ethical manner.

The ability to make fair, ethical decisions with integrity is vital for 21st Century educational leaders. School administrators and teachers alike are scrutinized not only professionally, but in their personal lives as well.

For this standard, I read and became familiar with two codes of conduct and/or ethics, including the Michigan Professional Educator's Code of Ethics and the National Education Association's (NEA) Code of Ethics of the Education Profession. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) adopted the NEA's Code of Ethics for its members. I also researched additional relevant professional literature as well as current events such as USA Today's investigative reports which detail possible cheating on high stakes tests in Washington, D. C. and Atlanta, Georgia public schools.

I compared the Michigan Professional Educator's Code and the NEA Code of Ethics of the Education Profession to the FCS Board Policies and Administrative Guidelines that address professional conduct. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation for both the district administrative team and my building's staff. I was scheduled to present this to building staff, however, was not able to do so. Copies of both codes were shared with building staff. I was able to present it to my building administrator and also interviewed her about her personal ethical beliefs and asked her to describe any ethical challenges she has experienced.

Conclusions and Results
Within the Bylaws and Policies document for Fruitport Community Schools Table of Contents, policies in the 2000 (Program) and 3000 (Professional Staff) sub sections most directly deal with ethical behavior. However, it is difficult to pinpoint specific points, because ethics/behavior policies are scattered throughout. Section 3210 most comprehensively addresses Staff Ethics. Section 2111 entitled "Value Statements for Students and Staff" provides a list of value statements based on values for Board Members and Educators that have been "traditionally held by Americans regardless of background, religious belief, or political persuasion." Sections 3211, 3213, 3231, 3362 address topics that are included under Codes of Ethics included in both the Michigan and NEA codes of ethics.

When examining the three different codes of ethics, it is clear that they all address the individual educator's commitment to both the student and the profession. The Michigan Professional Educator's Code of Ethics is the most brief, and is meant to enhance the Teacher's Oath that appears on each teacher's teaching certificate. A teaching certificate is only valid if this oath is signed, notarized and a copy has been filed with the superintendent's office of the district where a teacher is employed to teach. It reads:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States of America and the constitution of the state of Michigan and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of teacher according to the best of my ability.”
The NEA code of ethics, adopted in 1975 by the NEA Representative Assembly, appears to me to be the model document from which both the Michigan code and the Fruitport Board Bylaws and Policies were crafted. This code was well established long before either of the other two codes, is comprehensive and concise with a clear focus on the teaching profession, including support staff. The FCS Board Bylaws and Policies are comprehensive and include all topics addressed in the other two codes, and also outline specific values and behaviors expected of educators. The are presented in a format this is difficult to navigate, as the topics are spread out over various sections.

The aspect of the NEA code that I found most interesting are included under Principle II, Commitment to the Profession. Number 5 states: "Shall not assist a noneducator in the unauthorized practice of teaching."

Additional Educational Leadership Courses that demonstrate 
proficiency in Standard V:

Field Study for EDL 705 Organizational Behavior, Ethics and Decision-making/EDG 750 Curriculum "Building A Community of Learners"

Final Project for EDL 725 Education Law, "Reauthorization of IDEA"


Fruitport Community Schools, Board Policies and Bylaws

Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Professional Educator's Code of Ethics

National Education Association,  Code of Ethics for the Education Profession

Rebore, Ronald W. (2000) The Ethics of Educational Leadership. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, Reviewed by Denver J. Fowler in Academic Leadership Live: The Online Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 3, 2010.

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Standard 6.0:  Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.

School Board Meetings
During the course of this internship, I attended monthly school board meetings. Meetings were held a the various district buildings, with the principal of that building hosting and providing a special brief showcase of programs or events at that building. Meetings all followed a consistent structure and format and were always calm and orderly. During each meeting two opportunities for the public to speak were offered, although at only two of the meetings did anyone use that opportunity. Most meetings were of about one hour or so in length and the meetings that lasted longer were usually due to the building showcase, or other presentations that took more time. Minutes for the 2010 - 2011 school board meetings can be found here.

It was clear that most work was done in the various committees prior to the public monthly meeting of the entire school board. One of the difficult decisions the board must make this year is whether or not to continue the all-day, everyday Kindergarten program that was begun two years ago. The board initially committed to all day programming for two years, and then reevaluating. With the potential devastating deep cuts proposed by our current state Governor, it may not be possible to maintain this academically beneficial program. In March, the chair of the Finance Committee, Elroy Buckner interviewed me as part of his decision-making process. It was clear that this is a very difficult decision for the board to make. It is clear from the data, that this program is accelerating the learning of our Kindergarten students. Complicating the decision is there is also legislation pending that may remove full Full Time Equivalent (FTE) funds if a school district does not offer full day Kindergarten. They are looking at a number of alternatives, including 1/2 day Kindergarten in the AM and PM, with Academic Enrichment during the opposite 1/2 of the day. The enrichment would not be provided by a certified teacher, and bus transportation would not be provide during the mid-day--only in the morning and at the end of the regular school day. I don't envy them as they make this very difficult decision--which will be made at the April 25 board meeting, unless they decide to postpone that decision.

During the interview with Mr. Buckner, as an aside, we discussed the obvious positive functioning of the school board. It is clear that the board understands their duties and have worked very hard to operate as efficiently and as cohesively as possible. He suggested that I attend a school board meeting in some other district for comparison and he assured me they do not all function as well as Fruitport Community Schools. I have not yet had the opportunity to do that, as I have had conflicts in my schedule.

Kent Intermediate School District Literacy Coaches Network

In addition to attending school board meetings, I joined the Kent Intermediate School District's Literacy Coaches Network- Beginning Cohort. The Literacy Coached Network(LCN) is described as:
The Literacy Coaches Network is a group of Pre-K-12 educators whom we refer to as literacy coaches and/or literacy leaders, who meet regularly to learn and share best practices around literacy.  This group includes:  classroom teachers, department chairs, reading teachers, Title 1 teachers, pre-school teachers, coaches (full and part time), literacy leaders in all content areas, English language learner teachers, special education teachers, and anyone interested in networking with others to share and learn. 
Because literacy is one of my main focuses, my membership in this group can best be described with one word: empowering. I wrote a blog post "Let the Learning Begin!" about my experience with the LCN that can be accessed here. This group provides a connection to the latest developments in best and promising practices in literacy learning and has become part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). It has also been an information resource for upcoming professional development opportunities.

Kent ISD is providing Cognitive Coaching  Foundations I & II training that begins in June 2011. I am registered for both the summer (I) and fall sessions (II) and feel this will be an excellent opportunity to refine my ability and experience as a learning coach. It will also provide a certification in Cognitive Coaching to enhance my repertoire.

Additional LCN Resources  

Kent ISD Literacy Resources page
LCN Wiki

Literacy Coaches Toolkit  (newest version)

Literacy Coaches Toolkit (previous years' version) (no longer available)

Literacy Professional Developmen


Social networking is an important resource for staying on top of current political, social, legal, economic and cultural events, and in understanding the contexts in which they occur.  My Professional Learning Network-- Twitter PLN has been an extremely valuable tool for staying connected and current on issues in education at the federal, state and local levels. This PLN consists of several area district superintendents, including Nick Ceglarek and David Britton, other nationally recognized leaders in education such as Alfie Kohn and Diane Ravitch, news organizations and principals and teachers from around the globe. These individuals are well informed about current legislative and educational policy issues and Twitter provides immediate and excellent links to articles and websites through the daily Twitter feed. In addition, there are organized "chat" events", one can follow, which lets you view what others are tweeting even if you don't follow them. Here is an example:
Sample of #edchat feed from April 20, 2011


Why Educators Should be Using Twitter

Cybraryman's Catalogue of Educational Websites

Other Education
Policy Resources:

The Economics Behind International Education Rankings

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