Developing Innovative Schools and Policy Supports for Deeper Learning

Developing Innovative Schools and Policy Supports for Deeper Learning
Developing Innovative Schools and Policy Supports for Deeper Learning


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) is a nonprofit professional development organization that provides learning opportunities for policymakers, practitioners and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state and local levels.  AYPF has a grant from the Knowledge Works Foundation to lead two study tours for Congressional and senior Administration staff to cities and schools with innovative and promising approaches to preparing students for success.  These study tours will support KnowledgeWorks Foundation’s vision of a new world of learning, and the Hewlett Foundation’s initiative on Deeper Learning, both designed to support high school students to be college and career ready. The first trip will take place to Indianapolis, Indiana.

The goal of this study tour is for participants to learn about new innovative school models that are preparing students to be successful in a rapidly-changing world.  Indiana is committed to supporting student-centered and learning-focused educational innovation, including the expansion of the New Technology (New Tech) high school model and other innovative educational models as a key strategy to improve student outcomes and postsecondary and career success.

Participants will develop an understanding of the policy conditions, such as capacity building, professional development, instructional change, funding, assessments, etc.,  that will allow these schools that support deeper learning to expand and flourish.  Participants will learn from, and engage in discussion with, high-level education policy leaders, who will provide a context for the new types of learning.  They will also visit schools using different models, to witness first-hand how instruction and assessment are different, by observing classes, and talking to principals, teachers and students.  The focus on a variety of models will underscore the fact that what is important is not the model, per se, but the common elements that undergird these new innovative practices.  Policymakers will also have dedicated time to discuss the implications for federal education policy including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The school models, such as the New Tech Network, and Big Picture Schools, are part of a national movement, with each model contributing to a variety of innovative options open to educators.  Such innovative models are especially timely now, as researchers, educators, local, state and federal policymakers, and employers increasingly agree that to succeed in modern careers or postsecondary education, and to be engaged in civic activities, students must learn more than content knowledge; they should also master interdisciplinary, higher-order thinking skills that they can apply to real-life situations. Essential abilities include problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, collaboration, effective communication, and the ability to learn to learn.

Indianapolis provides a particularly strong context to observe successful strategies employed -as well as the challenges faced by – educational systems embarking on these innovative paths.

Click here to view the final agenda for the study tour.



Dr. Tony Bennett was sworn in as Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2009 and immediately began creating a Department of Education focused on student learning and implementing his vision that “the academic achievement and career preparation of all Indiana students will be the best in the United States and on par with the most competitive countries in the world.”

Now well into his second year of office, it’s clear Dr. Bennett remains committed to advancing bold education reforms aimed at putting the full focus of Indiana’s schools where it belongs—on students.






Catherine A. Brown is a Professor of Mathematics Education in the School of Education of Indiana University, Bloomington.  Dr. Brown has a bachelor and master degree in Mathematics and a bachelor degree in Education from Miami University and a doctorate in Mathematics Education from the University of Georgia.  She has taught middle and high school mathematics in Cincinnati Ohio and has held faculty positions at the University of Dortmund (Germany), Virginia Tech and University of Pittsburgh as well as Indiana University.  Dr. Brown has published articles and book chapters and given numerous talks and workshops related to her research. Her primary research interest throughout her career has been the professional development of teachers of mathematics.  While at Virginia Tech she co-directed “Learning to Teach Mathematics”, a study of the transition from university student to middle school math teacher funded by the National Science Foundation.  At the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center she was part of the QUASAR Project leadership team and studied the professional development of urban middle school teachers in this Ford Foundation project.  Since arriving at Indiana University in 1997, she has directed the Collaboration for the Enhancement of Mathematic Instruction, a project funded by the Lucent Foundation to establish Lesson Study as a form of professional development for local secondary mathematics teachers and mathematicians and mathematics educators at Indiana University.  She was a co-PI on an NSF-funded project focusing on the mathematics assessments of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP).  Dr. Brown directed the authoring of teacher development materials, based on released NAEP items and other NAEP data.  Learning from NAEP: Professional Development Materials for Mathematics Teachers was published in 2006 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Since 2008 Brown has been leading Math Matters, an initiative in the southeastern counties of Indiana to introduce project-based learning (PBL) techniques to mathematics teachers at all grade levels.  Teachers partner with local businesses to develop and to implement project-based units that engage students in learning and using important mathematics.  The goal of Math Matters is to help teachers improve student achievement in math through rigorous, authentic projects that prepare students for the demands of the twenty-first century.  In 2010 Molecules Matter, focused on PBL and nanoscience for middle and high school science teachers, was introduced.  In 2011 a component for technology teachers in middle and high schools will be added and the three professional development programs will merge under the name PBL Academy for STEM Educators.  Funding for this STEM PBL initiative has come from the Indiana STEM Resource Network, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, and EcO15 (Economic Opportunity 2015 — Connecting the Residents of Southeast Indiana to Economic Opportunity through Education by 2015), funded in large part by the Lilly Endowment.



Scott Jenkins is the Senior Education Policy Director for Governor Mitch Daniels. He directs the Governor’s education agenda with the Indiana Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education, the Department of Workforce Development, the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana, and the Indiana Education Employees Relations Board.  He facilitates the Governor’s education related legislative priorities with the Indiana General Assembly.

Immediately prior to working for Governor Daniels, Scott provided education policy and technology consulting services.  In this role, he led a comprehensive urban school district turnaround by working with the Pontiac School Board and administration to analyze the district and create a strategic plan focused on improving student achievement and financial operations.  He also supported state and national K-12 and higher education reform initiatives by serving as a senior policy consultant with Achieve, Inc., the Indiana policy advisor for the Making Opportunity Affordable project, and the Michigan and Ohio policy advisor with Jobs for the Future, Inc.



David N. Shane is President and Chief Executive Officer of LDI, Ltd. LLC in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Shane is a graduate of Wabash College; he received his J.D. from Duke University School of Law.  He previously practiced law at Baker & Daniels, representing businesses, institutions of higher education and school districts in human resource, education and government regulation matters.  In addition to volunteer work for social service, cultural, religious and amateur athletic institutions and initiatives, Shane’s civic and community activities have included work in education.  He currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Board of Education; as a member of the executive committee and board of directors of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (with focus on Talent); on the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce Business and Higher Education Forum; on the Education and Workforce Committee of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; on the Board of Trustees of Wabash College; on the board of advisors for the Center for Inquiry in the Liberal Arts; and on the board of directors for The Mind Trust.   Shane previously assisted Mayor Peterson in starting the Mayor’s Charter School Board, on which he served for several years; chaired the K-12 subcommittee of the Indiana Government Efficiency Commission; served as a member of the Indiana Education Roundtable for Governors Frank O’Bannon and Joe Kernan; supported the creation, development and work of the Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning; and took a leave of absence from LDI to serve as Senior Advisor for Education and Employment to Governor Mitch Daniels, focusing on workforce development, higher education and K-12 education.  While serving Governor Daniels Shane worked to obtain and implement seed funding for new models of high schools in Indiana that predict to success in post-secondary STEM  education and work, including both New Tech High Schools and early college high schools, both of which now have networks of schools functioning in Indiana.




Mary Ann Sullivan joined the Indiana General Assembly in the 2009 legislative session, and was recently re-elected to her second term. Mary Ann has worked to improve public education for over twenty years. When she is not busy with her duties at the Statehouse, she works as a consultant with the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), at the University of Indianapolis, an organization dedicated to improving student achievement, strengthening the quality of life and encouraging economic development throughout the state of Indiana.

Mary Ann has worked extensively in the field of public charter schools in particular, including helping to launch new, small high schools in Indianapolis through a CELL initiative supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She was instrumental in helping to pass bi-partisan support of Indiana’s public charter school law, served as director of the Charter School Resource Center of Indiana, and was the founding Director of the first statewide charter school association.

Mary Ann has a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University, with a concentration in Policy Analysis and an emphasis on education policy. She is active in her community, serving on a number of non-profit boards. Her passion for grassroots activism continues to fuel her commitment to improving education, the environment, and the everyday lives of those she represents. She and her husband, Brian Sullivan, are the proud parents of three grown children and three perfect grandchildren.


Dr. Eugene G. White was born in Phenix City, AL, to a single 17-year-old mother in December 1947. He was the first person in his family’s history to graduate from high school. He grew up in a time of segregation and Jim Crow practices in Southeast Alabama. In high school, he excelled in football, basketball, and baseball. His mother, grandmother and athletic coaches heavily influenced him. He was a starting member of the 1966 Alabama State Championship Basketball Team and accepted a basketball scholarship to Alabama A&M University. He graduated with academic honors and set career scoring marks at Alabama A&M University.

He was a teacher, coach and school administrator in the Fort Wayne Community Schools for 19 years. He was the first African American high school principal in the Fort Wayne Community Schools, where he served as principal of Wayne High School from 1985 to 1990. In 1990 he became the first African American high school principal of North Central High School in Indianapolis, serving until 1992. He was Deputy Superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools from July 1992 to January 1994. He served as Superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township for 11 years. In 2005, Dr. White was named Superintendent of the state’s largest school district, IPS.

Dr. White has served in a large number of leadership capacities over the years, most recently as President of the American Association for School Administrators in 2006-07.

Dr. White has received a wide variety of honors over his career, including:

  • 2002 and 2009 Indiana Superintendent of the Year
  • 2007 National Association of Black School Educators (NABSE) Superintendent of the Year
  • 2006 Modern Red Schoolhouse Distinguished Service Award
  • 2001 Alabama A&M University Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1997 Indiana Music Educators Association Outstanding Superintendent of the Year
  • 1995 Center for Leadership Development Education Award
  • 1992 named by Redbook magazine as a “visionary leader” as principal of one of America’s  Best Schools

Dr. White is the author of the book, “Leadership Beyond Excuses: The Courage to Hold the Rope.”  He co-wrote a second book, “Leading Schools of Diversity.”

He received an Ed.D. in Education Administration and Supervision from Ball State University in 1982, an Ed.S. in Superintendency from Ball State University in 1977, an M.S. in School Health from the University of Tennessee in 1971, and a B.S. in Social Studies, Health and Physical Education from Alabama A & M University in 1970.  He is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Dr. White is married to Jetties White and has two children: Reginald E. White, Dean of Students and Head Girls Basketball Coach, Arsenal Tech High School in IPS, and Kimberly R. White, a teacher and coach at John Marshall Community High School in IPS.



Indianapolis, IN



The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.