World Compliment Day

Human hands showing thumbs up sign

In 1965, singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon debuted her hit single What the World Needs Now.  Many of us remember the “next stanza” of this popular song as an amplification of the 1960’s call for “love” among all peoples.

In 2017 — 50+ years later — I suggest that in the unsettled and politically divisive culture of education in 21st century America, let’s revise this “next stanza” to say simply, “What the world needs now… is a compliment.”



  1. an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration

  2. a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard

  3. a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards

In this spirit:

LEAN Frog would like to compliment:

  • The many, many teachers in America that pour their hearts into helping our children – both academically and socially – grow-up to handle living in a complex world
  • The of the educational support staff that provide a safe and healthy environment  for our children each day
  • Both board of education members and superintendents for providing inspired and innovative leadership that supports our community vision for education and for their direction in competently managing all the business aspects of a complex public organization
  • Students in public education for all their perseverance, hard work and creative and insightful thinking

Next, you might ask what comes after a compliment?  Well, my mother taught me that when you received a compliment, you should say, “thank you!”

So, again in that spirit:

LEAN Frog would like to thank:

  • Those who have taken the time to compliment our work – some of these compliments are available at
  • The judge of the American Business Association’s “Stevie” Awards who, in recognition of LEAN Frog’s Silver Stevie-IBA-Silver-Logo-170x300Award in the “Most Innovative Company of the Year” competition of 2016, said:

    “Too few companies have the courage and the compassion required to address the education market because it is not as lucrative as many others—you have to care enough to want to go there and be dedicated to providing real benefit, not just being another parasite on the beleaguered system.  It appears that LEAN Frog has shown the clever, entrepreneurial wit to bring real value where it is much needed.”

Finally, I would like to personally thank all of our friends in public education that, with a smile and a chuckle, have complimented me, Dave Knowles, when I am wearing my signature “frog hat.”




– Dave Knowles, LEAN Frog Sales and Marketing Manager

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LEAN Frog at the National Conference on Education in the Big Easy

2017 AASA snipLEAN Frog team members will be on the road again to support the National Conference on Education (NCE) presented by The School Superintendents Association (AASA).   Two weeks ago we were in Nashville (TN), Montgomery (AL), and New Orleans (LA) to support the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents Legislative and Learning Conference, the School Superintendents of Alabama Legislative Conference, and the Louisiana School Board Association Annual Conference respectively.  We’re heading back to New Orleans for Big Ideas in the Big Easy.

We are excited about this year’s NCE “leadership personalized, accountable and visionary” theme as LEAN Frog’s work focuses on customized solutions for our public education clients who range from some of the nation’s largest school systems like Shelby County Schools (TN) and Mobile County Public Schools (AL) to small rural districts like East Feliciana Public Schools (LA).

We always enjoy participating in public education conferences because they allow us to catch up with clients, showcase new products and/or services, and show our support for professional education associations.  However, our most important reason for attending these conferences is  to learn about the most critical topics facing public education today and how we as parents and as business and community leaders can work with public school educators to help prepare ALL students for achievement and future success.  LEAN Frog looks forward to learning with and from the great superintendents of our nation at #NCE2017.

See you in the Big Easy and see you at the LEAN Frog booth (#338)

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3rd Annual Alabama’s Best Contest Receives Inspiring Entries

As Alabama students begin their first full week of school in 2017, we would like to recognize the excellent work of those school systems who participated in the 3rd annual Alabama’s Best Contest.  We congratulate all those who entered the contest, our two runner-up winners, and our grand prize winner.  We hope that learning about these impressive examples of best practices will inspire others in 2017.



The Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) and LEAN Frog were delighted to continue our tradition of recognizing the great work of Alabama public education with our 3rd Annual “Alabama’s Best” K-12 Practices Contest.  We received inspiring entries that covered the instructional and non-instructional spectrum. Departments such as Special Education, Career Tech, Student Services, Maintenance, Technology entered practices exhibiting strong pedagogical thought and exceptional creativity.  More importantly they showed the intense dedication of our Alabama teachers, educational administrators, and communities to both support and enhance the learning opportunities for our students.

Talladega City Schools students in the Precision Machine/Industrial Maintenance/Robotics Program created a prosthetic hand for a patient in Nepal

Talladega City Schools students in the Precision Machine/Industrial Maintenance/Robotics Program created a prosthetic hand for a patient in Nepal

Some examples of best practice entries included:

  • A robotics program that provides opportunities for students to learn precision machining and participate in community service projects
  • Data collection and analysis of counseling services to better target high needs areas, improve direct student intervention, and educate parents and community members on important issues such as anxiety and drug use
  • Replacement of inefficient metal halide lamps with LED lighting to save money and improve students’ ability to learn and perform
  • A “Garden to table” catering program that enables adolescents and young adults with significant cognitive disabilities to acquire functional, academic, and vocational skills.
Gadsden City Schools students in the "Beautiful Rainbow Catering Company and Garden" program lean about organic gardening.

Gadsden City Schools students in the “Beautiful Rainbow Catering Company and Garden” program lean about organic gardening.

With all the great entries, competition was tight.  We had several rounds of judging to identify the top three entries.

And the 3rd Annual Alabama’s Best winners are . . .

LEAN Frog recognized the winners of the contest at the AASB annual meeting in Birmingham.  The collaborative efforts of each winning best practice tied nicely with AASB’s theme “Together We Can Soar.”  The winning entries included:

  • an online academy featuring teacher-directed, student-led instructional videos
  • an Early Literacy Groups program highlighting teacher-paraprofessional collaboration
  • a comprehensive elementary school STEM program that spans all grade levels


Crestline Elementary School (Hartselle City Schools) and Indian Valley Elementary School (Sylacauga City Schools) were the two-runner up entries. They each received $1000.  Crestline Elementary’s entry, submitted by Instruction Partner Elisha Harris, features instructional videos as part of their Crestline Academy.  The videos allow parents to help their children academically with concepts that have been presented in the classroom.  Students and teachers created the videos to reinforce College and Career Ready standards/strategies for math and reading.  Crestline Academy ensures students have access to instructional support when school is not in session or when students are absent. Indian Valley Elementary’s entry, submitted by Principal Monte Abner, focuses on collaboration between certified teachers and paraprofessionals.  Their Early Literacy Groups (ELGs) deliver explicit reading instruction to students on their level.  The ELGs’ emphasis on phonemic and phonological awareness, comprehensions, writing, and vocabulary have led to 68% of students meeting or exceeding grade level expectations.   Additionally, 93% of kindergarten students are proficient in phonological awareness.

The grand prize winning entry from Barkley Bride Elementary School (Hartselle City Schools) received $3000. Barkley Bridge’s Best Practices in STEM, submitted by Principal Susan Hayes, documents their process for developing and maintaining a comprehensive STEM program for all grades at the school.  From developing goals at the outset that aligned with the district’s strategic plan to involving parents and community partners, Barkley Bridge developed a sustainable approach to “STEM schooling” that has achieved teacher buy-in and significant increases in student ACT Aspire Math scores.

We thank and congratulate all those schools and school systems who submitted entries to the 3rd Annual Alabama’s Best Contest.  You are all winners for the work you put in each day to improve the lives of students in Alabama’s public education system.

COMING THIS WEEK:  The start of a six-part series profiling each of the winners of the Alabama and Tennessee’s Best Contests!

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Introducing BLOOM – A Digital Behavioral Learning and Discipline Management Solution

LEAN Frog Digital, LLC, a leading digital solutions provider for public schools, is excited to announce the launch of BLOOM – a web-based application that lets you easily monitor overall student behavior and responses.

“BLOOM is a tremendous tool and we are excited to make it available for all school systems,” said co-founder Byron Headrick of LEAN Frog Digital. “This is a tool that will track student discipline and behavior while standardizing workflow and ensuring data integrity.”

School systems can use BLOOM to provide teachers with holistic, individualized student profiles. This ensures that each student is given the highest quality, personalized attention from school systems.BLOOM

“BLOOM is an innovative behavioral learning platform. BLOOM provides the flexibility for school systems to use their own conduct standards, provides a seamless and automated workflow for proactive monitoring, managing, reporting, and standardizing behavior tracking across the school system or at individual schools,” said co-founder and President Bill Johnson of LEAN Frog Digital, LLC. “We continue to enhance BLOOM by focusing on the needs of our customers and partners.”

Using BLOOM will allow teachers and administrators to quickly and easily identify behavioral trends, and provide positive behavior intervention support. BLOOM is tailored to fit individual schools and staffs, and is secure and accessible via your school systems’ network.

For more information about BLOOM, a free demonstration or information on pricing, visit our website at The LEAN Frog Digital LLC team can be reached by calling 877-799-532 or by email at

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Introducing LEAN Frog Digital

HUNTSVILLE, ALA. (November 29, 2016) – LEAN Frog Business Solutions, a leading continuous improvement solutions provider for public schools, is excited to announce the launch of LEAN Frog Digital, LLC to provide digital solutions for school systems focused on increasing value for students, parents, teachers and communities.LF Digital Logo

“Everything we do always comes back to helping students achieve excellence,” said co-founder Byron Headrick of LEAN Frog Digital, LLC. “Technology is and will continue to be an integral part of education moving forward. We’re excited to help school systems embrace that reality with efficient and effective digital solutions. LEAN Frog Digital will help school systems realize cost savings and efficiencies in back office and administrative software, make the right software investments – whether it’s off-the-shelf or custom, and integrate instructional technology into the classroom.”

LEAN Frog Digital helps school systems unlock the full potential and benefits of instructional technology – from more interactive and immersive learning to increased student engagement and participation. Moreover, LEAN Frog Digital helps school systems get the most return on investments for school systems in a time of scarce funding and budget cuts.

“We are going to drive major changes in the way public education utilizes technology. LEAN Frog has established itself as the leader in Lean Six Sigma-based process improvement.” said co-founder and President Bill Johnson of LEAN Frog Digital, LLC. “LEAN Frog Digital will expand upon their success by deploying efficient, cost-effective and impactful digital solutions.”

For more information about LEAN Frog Digital and how we can benefit your school system, visit or contact us at or 877-799-5327.

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Best Practices in K-12 Contest Celebrates the Success of Tennessee Public Schools





The words above describe BEST PRACTICES in public schools that are:

Enhancing student achievement,

Involving local communities,

Promoting positive student behavior,

Empowering teachers.


LEAN Frog and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) were pleased to receive so many quality, sustainable Best Practices in the inaugural “Tennessee’s Best” K-12 Practices Contest.  These entries displayed imagination and profound thought.  The practices focused on improving students’ well-being, helping prepare them for successful futures, and encouraging the involvement of school staff, parents and the local community.


A wide range of entries . . .

From early literacy initiatives to specialized high school diplomas, from classroom instruction to school operations, from central office to the community, this year’s entries represent the great work that goes on in public schools across Tennessee.   Some examples of entered best practices include:

  • Creation of integrated mathematics courses
  • Externships where teachers work with local businesses to improve classroom instruction
  • A personalized learning system for Professional Development that is teacher-inspired and designed
  • Universal screening data used to build teacher capacity in literacy instruction
  • A cost effective process for energy efficiency
  • The use of Open Educational Resources to provide digital content to replace textbooks and divert monies to other appropriate school uses
  • Student led, strategically planned activities that promote student involvement and interaction with others outside their circle


Some of the impressive results from these entries include:

  • Students having increased access to a broad range of multimedia resources and more/newer electronic devices
  • Real-world application of standards in the classroom to educate the future workforce
  • Enhanced instructional support by volunteers that resulted in an annual savings of $15,600 (based on 1,300 volunteer hours)
  • More than $350,000 diverted from textbook purchases to technology implementation
  • Graduating seniors earning a Tennessee Work Ethic Diploma Distinction and a Career Readiness Certification
  • Nearly $800,000 in energy savings and over $1M in cost avoidance

And the 2016 award winners are . . .

LEAN Frog recognized the winners of the contest at the TOSS annual meeting last week.  The many outstanding entries for this inaugural award highlighted the BEST PRACTICES and INNOVATIONS in the instructional and non-instructional departments of Tennessee’s K-12 public schools. All entries were judged on creativity, sustainability, and impact on students.

The winning entry from Kingsport City Schools received a $3,000 cash prize and documented the transformation of the school systems’ central office into the Administrative Support Center (ACS).  This program provides a myriad of volunteer opportunities for each ACS staff person to be involved in a sustaining, learning-focused, servant leader partnership with one or two local schools.  The resulting relationships enhance the teaching and learning process and has reorganized and re-cultured the ASC staff in its role as a support center to schools.

The two runner-up winners were Lauderdale County Schools and Maury County Schools and each received a $1,000 cash prize.  Lauderdale County Schools’ entry featured the Extended Literacy Initiative (ELI) – a program that utilizes innovative scheduling in Grades PreK-3 for explicit, prescriptive, targeted literacy instruction.  ELI is focused on accelerating reading levels specifically for disadvantaged students, but has ultimately benefited ALL students.  Maury County Schools’ entry defined and supported the “Keys to College and Career Readiness” initiative.  Based on input from the whole local community, the seven keys help all teachers know exactly what they need to focus on and why.  This enterprise has resulted in improvements in trust, transparency, communication, morale and student growth.2

COMING LATER:  Each winning entry will be described in more detail in its own feature story!


We want to thank all of those school systems for submitting entries to the inaugural Tennessee’s Best contest. Your consistent hard work on behalf of your students, staff, and community show that TENNESSEE SUCCEEDS is more than a tagline.  It’s a way of life.  Congratulations again.

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LEAN Frog’s John Higginbotham Receives Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification

DSC_0224LEAN Frog Senior Lean Consultant and Project Manager, John Higginbotham, has completed his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. John currently supports all aspects of client engagement from scope definition to product delivery while providing insight for improving client business processes, efficiencies, practices and critical business strategies.

John’s certification marks the addition of another Lean Six Sigma Black Belt to LEAN Frog’s staff, further strengthening the company’s overall knowledge and depth of expertise in lean six sigma tools and strategies. LEAN Frog is committed to helping students by freeing up school system resources to focus on education using innovative lean six sigma thinking, systems and tools. Click here to learn more.

Prior to joining LEAN Frog, John served as a Project Manager for a variety of area companies, including URS, Enfinger Steele Development, and most recently, Willo Products as a Senior Project Manager. Prior to that, John worked in the residential construction market in home building and development.

John received his BBA from Athens State University in 2005. He has since earned multiple professional certifications, including his Project Management Professional Certification.

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Best K-12 Practices Contest Q&A with Dr. Sherri Headrick

I’m sitting down today with our own LEAN Frog Co-founder and Director of Sales and Marketing, Dr. Sherri Headrick, to talk about the basics of the Alabama and Tennessee’s Best K-12 Practices Contests.

We’ll answer some questions such as – What is it? Who can enter? What makes a good entry?

Josh: Good morning, Sherri!!

Sherri: Good morning, Josh!

Josh: Tell us a little about the contests and why LEAN Frog sponsors this competition.

StockImageSherri: LEAN Frog’s mission is to help public schools maximize the value they deliver to students, parents and communities. Our goal with these contests is to recognize best practices and innovations in public schools that impact student achievement and promote effective and efficient use of public resources. Often you see a lot of headlines about what’s going wrong in public education. We want to shine a bright light on the good work people are doing every day to positively impact students and their communities. That’s the reason we work with school systems. When resources are used effectively and efficiently, it allows students to learn better and have greater opportunities.

Josh: Why do schools enter the competition?

Sherri: I’d love to tell you that that people enter the contest because they recognize the value of having innovative, quantifiable and sustainable processes that lead to student achievement and that they believe a repository of best practices would be a great asset and legacy for their efforts. I think that is part of it. However, I think the main reasons people enter the “Best K-12 Practices” contest is to:

  1. Win some money
  2. Gain a little publicity
  3. Promote an initiative they believe in
  4. Recognize a group of teachers and/or students that have done something special or unique

I’m fine with that. Whatever motivates people to think about the work they do, document how they do it and continually evaluate how it benefits their students is a good thing in my book.

Josh: What does LEAN Frog look for when judging entries?

Sherri: We evaluate the entries based on three main criteria:

The-Main-Thing_laughsandlove_com_1. Creativity – original programs or initiatives that are not widely used or a unique application of a practice that other school systems are using.

2. Sustainability – a practice with measures in place to ensure the practice continues. We look at whether or not there is a person or a team who “owns” the practice. This ensures that the practice continues to work efficiently and effectively. This tends to be the area where people do not provide as much detail as we would like

3. Impact on students is the final criterion. We look to see how the practice improves students’ environments or wellbeing, how it improves the quality of service provided to students, or how it maximizes resources available to students. Student impact is the whole reason for this contest.

4. This year, we’ve added a small portion (up to five points out of the total possible 35 points) for evaluating the creativity of the media presentation. The presentation can be a video or PowerPoint covering the who, what, how, and why of the best practice (i.e., who started it, what it is, how it is implemented and sustained, why you started it/why it benefits students).  Some of the best presentations have strongly featured students in still pictures or videos.  Our first Alabama’s Best contest winner featured a video created by a student! While the majority of the points do not come from the media presentation, but from the quality of the best practice, we do encourage school systems to use the presentation to showcase their uniqueness.

Josh: What separates a good entry from a winning entry?

winningSherri: When I look back at the Grand Prize winners from 2014 and 2015, I see some “sweat equity,” for lack of a better word, put into the practice. These entries showed that they took some time to assess their current situation, involved their stakeholders in generating improvement ideas, and had a clear vision for sustaining the practices.

For example, Tarrant City Schools reviewed data to determine how many “reduced price” families missed qualifying for “free” meals and by how much. They held a “Kitchen Cook Off” and staff members voted on entrees to improve recipes. They documented increases in breakfast and lunch participation.

Our 2015 winner, Roanoke City Schools, took a standard practice—an Outdoor Classroom—and adapted it to become an agricultural outdoor project-based learning opportunity. The program not only emphasizes cross disciplinary learning, but students also learn about calculating expenses and profit through selling fish from their three fish ponds and fresh eggs from their chicken coop. The school system had the foresight to engage Auburn University’s Fisheries department and the Alabama Forestry Commission to help standardize practices.

Josh: Any final tips you want to give school systems?

Sherri: Remember you have to enter to win. The deadline will be here before you know it. The deadline for “Tennessee’s Best” contest is July 29 and the deadline for the “Alabama’s Best” contest is October 28. Review your accomplishments from the past year (or the previous year) and identify the ones that have repeatable best practices and submit your entry today.

Josh: Thanks so much, Sherri!

Sherri: Thank you for taking the time to ask about this contest and share the answers.

Click here for even more information about LEAN Frog’s Alabama and Tennessee’s Best K-12 Practices Contests and to submit an entry for your school today!

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Team Member Spotlight: Ken “The Tool Man” Allen

Ken AllenHUNTSVILLE, Ala. (May 4, 2016) – Many of you may remember the Tim Allen television show “Home Improvement” that featured the fictitious television show “Tool Time” hosted by Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.  Well LEAN Frog has its own very talented tool man named Allen—Ken Allen.  Ken has an amazing depth and breadth of tools and experience that he brings to the many public school systems that LEAN Frog serves across the Southeast.  With his solid educational background, certification as a Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma and as a Project Management Professional, and 25 years in supply chain logistics, risk assessment, and operations/business management, Ken brings a “full tool belt” to the job of directing process improvements and capturing monetary savings for our public education clients.

“Ken is a successful ‘change agent’ with a strong focus on customer-service,” said Byron Headrick, LEAN Frog Co-founder and President.  “His extensive leadership background and his significant experience spearheading complex, cross-functional process improvements and enhancing overall operational efficiencies strengthen our corporate team and complement our services.”

Ken works out of the LEAN Frog Gulf Coast Regional Office in Mobile, Alabama and provides Lean Six Sigma technical support for LEAN Frog customers across the Southeast.

About LEAN Frog
Headquartered in Huntsville, Ala., LEAN Frog uses Lean Six Sigma thinking, systems, and tools to help school systems maximize their limited available resources to improve student services and outcomes. Our mission is to help public schools succeed through increasing the value they deliver to students, parents and communities while fully engaging employees, reducing costs and building a spirit of continuous improvement.
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LEAN Frog Co-Founder to Speak on Empowering Minority Communities through K-12 Public Education in Baltimore

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 18, 2016) – LEAN Frog Co-Founder, Dr. Sherri Headrick, will speak on how to deliver more value to minority students in K-12 public education at the 30th Annual National Council on Educating Black Children (NCEBC) National Convention on April 22, 2016, in Baltimore.

Sherri-HeadrickDr. Headrick, who also serves as LEAN Frog’s Director of Marketing and Personnel, will provide insight on how Lean Six Sigma process improvements can solve problems and create innovation opportunities in public schools. Specifically, her workshop will focus on the establishment of systems to create equitable opportunities, fully engage school staff, and include parents, guardians, business leaders, faith communities and civic organizations in the decision-making process in K-12 public education.

The 30th Annual NCEBC National Convention is an opportunity for thought-leaders from across the country to introduce, showcase and provide attendees access to proven programs, materials and strategies that increase African-American achievement and development. The NCEBC is a leading non-profit and civil rights organization founded to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for African-American children.

Dr. Headrick has over 20 years of experience in strategic planning and communication in government, academic and corporate settings. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., a master’s degree from the University of Memphis, and a doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University. She also holds a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification from NASA.

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