Reinventing America’s Schools

Aleesia Johnson

Innovation Officer, Indianapolis Public Schools Indianapolis

I think the work we've done around our innovation network schools has been about redefining how we think about school improvement and what it means to empower schools to have flexibility and decisionmaking authority, and to be able to leverage that flexibility on a local level, but still have the support and resources of a traditional district to support you. I think what we're trying to do is create a third way of thinking — how do you marry empowering schools with flexibility with lots of the resources that are available to schools in a traditional public schools district structure.

Sometimes there's an assumption that the actual motivation for your work isn't to make sure our kids and families are served really well. I think that's been hard, personally. Because, I know that's my personal drive of why I'm doing the work. To have the assumption, or that questioned, about why I am doing this, is difficult to deal with sometimes. Then there's still very hard, logistical-tactical things we have to change about the way we do our work that's hard: How do you both balance valuing people and honoring the work that they do, and say at the same time, "But, you gotta do it differently," or, "We have to figure out this other way?"

Listen to the Story