Oak Ridge Schools Strategic Plan 2020: Promoting Achievement and Accountability

This is the third post in a six-part series recognizing the state finalists and overall Grand Prize winner of the Tri-State Best Practices contest.  Our previous posts featured Alabama state finalists Eufaula City Schools and Muscle Shoals City Schools.


Preparing students for college, career, and life success is a balancing act. School systems not only have to ensure they have an engaging curriculum that addresses the needs of all types of learners, they also must make sure they safely transport students to and from school, serve nutritious meals for students, provide clean and safe facilities, keep parents informed, etc.  The list goes on and on.  In short, they must strategically plan to meet the current and future needs of their students, staff, and communities.  Oak Ridge Schools (ORS), one of the Tennessee finalists in the Tri-State Best K-12 Practices contest, is doing just that with their strategic plan.

Origins of the Oak Ridge Strategic Plan 2020

Superintendent Bruce Borchers, in partnership with educators, administrators, and community members, began the development The Oak Ridge Strategic Plan 2020 in 2016.  The team created a district mission and vision and identified goals for improvement in five critical areas:

  1. Academic Excellence:  World class, balanced curriculum and instruction focused on student achievement
  2. Educator Excellence: Committed, innovative and qualified educators the direct link to our students
  3. Learning Environment Excellence:  Safe, secure and effective environment, classrooms and infrastructure that promote learning 
  4. Operational Excellence:  Excellence in the administration, application, operation, and accountable stewardship of our valued educational resources to meet student needs 
  5. Stakeholder Excellence:  A strong family, community and school partnership that values and supports excellence in education

The team meets monthly to review Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the progress on each goal. Each goal has an assigned owner.  The owner reports on the goal to the board of education monthly and reports on the goals to the community annually.  As a result, every department and every school community are afforded the opportunity to actively engage in the success of all students. 

Celebrating Successes and Identifying Opportunities to Improve

ORS students are recognized for successes in post-secondary opportunities and problem-based learning

The ORS Strategic Plan 2020 (Oak Ridge 2020) goals for academic, educator, learning environment, operational and stakeholder excellence are all measured quantitatively and tracked on scorecards.  Examples of quantitative measures include percentage of teachers implementing projects/problem based learning opportunities (academic excellence goal), percentage of teachers retained from previous year (educator excellence goal), percentage of buses equipped with operable cameras and radios (learning environment excellence), average resolution time for completion of staff help desk tickets (operational excellence goal), and number of advisory council meetings held each year (stakeholder excellence goal),   Met goals are celebrated.  For example, students were recognized for being certified in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as part of the academic excellence goal of promoting critical thinking skills and problem-based learning.  Improvement opportunities and strategies are identified for goals that are not met.  The ORS team identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to improvement in each area.  When goals for student progress in math were not met, ORS reached out to outside experts for assistance.  The result is a best practice that enhances stakeholder engagement, increases organizational transparency, and promotes achievement and accountability.

Why We Like This Entry

While most if not all school systems have a strategic plan, the Oak Ridge 2020 goes beyond what is typically developed and includes Key Performance Indicators, a balanced scorecard, and planned celebrations of success.  Oak Ridge has set in place an effective structure for continuous improvement.

  • Goals are clearly identified and communicated.  The scorecard provides a very clear delineation of goals and whether they have been met. Information is clear-cut rather than confusing to stakeholders (students, staff, community members, etc.) 
  • Each goal has a designated owner.  The identification of responsible parties makes improvements much more attainable.
  • Each goal is monitored, adjusted, and improved annually under the direction of district leaders.
  • Successes/wins are celebrated and keep stakeholders motivated to continue achieving excellence.

ORS uses scorecards to track and report progress toward goals and objectives.

Meeting Their Mission

The community of stakeholders that developed Oak Ridge 2020 created and lives by this mission to prepare each student for excellence in education and the workplace.  As superintendent Borchers remarks, “This Strategic Plan is all about continuous improvement and achieving excellence in education.  It is an important and detailed framework for ORS that envisions our future and sets strategic goals to realize that future.” 

Oak Ridge Schools Best Practices Award check presentation at Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) Legislative Conference. From L-R: Byron Headrick, Holly Cross (Supervisor of Career Readiness and Communications), Bruce Lay (Executive Director of School Leadership), Sherri Headrick

Congratulations Oak Ridge Schools for Your Award Winning entry.  We applaud you for strategic planning process and execution that promotes achievement, engagement, transparency, and accountability.




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Central Community and East Feliciana are the Louisiana Finalists!

Spring is in full-bloom here in the southeastern United States and LEAN Frog is pleased to announce that the Louisiana school systems’ first year of participation in this Best Practices Contest has blossomed beyond our expectations!  The Louisiana entries were highly competitive and well-deserving of recognition. After several rounds of judging, LEAN Frog and co-sponsors the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS)/Louisiana Association of School Executives (LASE) are excited to announce the Louisiana Finalists in the “Tri-State Best K-12 Practices” Contest. . .


Central High School (Central Community School System in Baton Rouge, LA) and Jackson Elementary School (East Feliciana Public Schools in Clinton, LA).  Formal recognition and a $1,000 cash prize will be given to each of the finalists at an award ceremony to be held at their prize-winning schools. Additionally, the Louisiana finalists will be recognized at the at the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS) Summer Conference June 20-22 at the Double Tree in Lafayette, LA.


Central High School’s (CHS) “Student-run Help Desk” is a best practice begun in 2015 – a year after the start of their 1:1 digital initiative.  Inspired by college, student-run technology “help desks”, the CHS student-directed and staffed Help Desk provides full-time tech services on 1,400 student/teacher laptops. Additionally, these students maintain all classroom workstations, projectors, printers and nearly every other technical device.  The Help Desk staffers provide technology training to incoming students and professional development to faculty. These help desk students secure real-world IT experience (e.g., troubleshooting problems, repairing hardware and software, tracking inventory, communicating with customers, developing standard operating procedures), develop technical writing skills (e.g., creating training documents and documenting standard operating procedures) and jump start their careers by earning CompTIA A+ certification. Some students have gone on to become employed by the school system’s IT department.

A Central High School student-run Help Desk staffer repairs a laptop.


Jackson Elementary School’s (JES) “Cubs Morning Meeting” began in 2014 to address student and staff needs to develop a common language and space to explore the school’s values of respect, responsibility and kindness without sacrificing instructional time. The Cubs Morning Meeting (20 minutes first thing in the morning) has evolved into an almost entirely student developed and led assembly involving all members of the Jackson Elementary School Cub family (kindergarten through fifth grade).  This best practice has helped JES achieve a variety of quantitative and qualitative school goals connected to climate (e.g., 28% decrease in out of school suspensions), efficiency (e.g., reduced number of informational faculty meetings, adding a monthly meeting focused entirely on professional development without increasing the number of faculty meeting the staff needs to attend), and student leadership and public speaking skills (e.g., “Author’s Chair” presentations). Because each homeroom gets at least two weeks of practice leading Morning Meeting each school year, the number and variety of students provided with leadership and presentation skills has grown exponentially.

Students share their writings in the “Author’s Chair” during Jackson Elementary’s Cubs Morning Time


Louisiana had a record number of entries its first year participating in the Best Practices contest. We thank all of those who took the time to enter the contest and we applaud all your efforts on behalf of the students in Louisiana public schools!


The Alabama finalists were announced in December 2017 at the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) Annual Convention (AASB is the Alabama contest co-sponsor.) The Tennessee finalists were acknowledged at the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) Legislative & Learning Conference in February 2018 (TOSS is the Tennessee contest co-sponsor).  All six state finalists will compete for a Grand Prize of an additional $4,000 that will be awarded at a Board of Education meeting of the winning school system.  This presentation will allow the local community to share in the school system’s recognition for positively impacting student achievement and promoting the effective and efficient use of public resources.


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Louisiana Believes . . . in Great Best Practices Contest Entries!

The state plan for the Louisiana State Department of Education is Louisiana Believes.  The Louisiana Believes plan was designed to ensure that every child is on track to a college degree or a professional career and emphasizes the crucial role students, parents and teachers play in helping students achieve. This strong belief is echoed in the entries we received from Louisiana school systems in their first year of participation in the Best Practices contest*.  Well, we believe that Alabama and Tennessee have some stiff competition for taking home the Grand Prize in the Tri-State Best K-12 Practices contest.  In their first year out of the gate, Louisiana public schools have submitted innovative and impactful entries that demonstrate the strength and depth of public education.


Some of the Louisiana-submitted best practices involved:

  •  Increased Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) education opportunities for K-12 students to expand their critical thinking skills and prepare them for the 21st century workforce
  • Student-led early morning assemblies that distribute important school news and shared “cultural values” and spotlight student and staff recognitions
  • Professional Development for Career Technical Education (CTE) Teachers that focuses on the economic growth plans of the community, facilitates learning and collaboration with local businesses, and promotes students earning industry certifications
  • A strategically focused blueprint for increasing student achievement, developing educator effectiveness, and building public confidence
  • Expansion of the student directed and staffed IT “Help Desk” to deliver full-time technology maintenance services, enhance the use of technology in academic projects, and provide CompTIA A+ certifications for students
  •  Intensive ACT preparation to help students increase their scores and broaden their college opportunities.


We are thankful for the wonderful entries submitted by Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama and we greatly appreciate the support provided by our public education co-sponsors -Executive Director Sally Howell and the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) in Alabama, Executive Director Dale Lynch and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) in Tennessee, and Executive Director Mike Faulk and the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS) in Louisiana.  Thanks also to Executive Director J. Rogers Pope and the Louisiana Association of School Executives (LASE).


So now the question is . . .


Stay tuned for the revelation of the Louisiana finalists (see previous posts about Alabama entries and finalists and Tennessee entries and finalists) who will receive $1000.00 each and for the Grand Prize Winner selected from each state’s finalists.  The Grand Prize winner will receive an additional $4000.00 cash award!!!


* LEAN Frog sponsors the Tri-State Best K-12 Practices Contest for Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana public schools in association with the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB), the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), and the Louisiana Association of School Executives/Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASE/LASS) LEAN Frog established the contest to give back to public schools and to promote creative and sustainable practices that impact student achievement and encourage the effective and efficient use of public resources. Started in Alabama in 2014, expanded into Tennessee in 2016 and into Louisiana this year, winners receive public recognition and a cash prize for their successful entries.

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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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Tennessee’s Best Kingsport City Schools Administrative Support Center -Focused on Students and Schools

This is the fifth post in a six-part series recognizing the winners of the Tennessee’s Best and Alabama’s Best Contests.  Our previous post featured the following runners up: Indian Valley Elementary (AL), Maury County (TN), Crestline Elementary (AL), and Lauderdale County (TN)


Does everyone at your school panic when you hear the words “Central Office is coming”?  Unfortunately, some in education view Central Office as a non-human entity, a pervasive, bureaucratic force that only creates problems.  Central Office is the mysterious place where important information gets held up or delayed.  It is the place that sends down decisions from above that wreak havoc on those “in the trenches” at the schools.  Central Office personnel are the bogeymen that come to the school to catch you doing something wrong.

Kingsport City Schools in Kingsport, Tennessee is a bright example of a central office that works for and with its schools.   Kingsport’s Central Office and their Administrative Support Center (ASC) were recognized by LEAN Frog and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) as the Grand Prize Winner of the Inaugural Tennessee’s Best Contest.  Their entry exemplifies their tagline Student Focused . . . World Class.

The Purpose of ASC Teams

ASC Support team members assist with student-led data conferences

ASC Support team members assist with student-led data conferences

ASC Team members help with the "Pancakes for Parents" Breakfast

ASC Team members help with the “Pancakes for Parents” Breakfast

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie and the Kingsport City Central Office developed an effective response to the question that is thoughtfully pondered by all public-school systems — “What should be the role of the Central Office in supporting schools?” Their solution involved the transformation of its central office into an Administrative Support Center (ASC)!  ASC Teams employ volunteerism, servant leadership and lean practices to allow each Central Office employee, as a member of an ASC Team, to support one or two schools through a myriad of volunteer opportunities. The ASC teams meet monthly with liaisons from each school to review ways to assist.  This assures that central office supports schools in the way the schools need.

The ASC Teams were developed for the following objectives:

a.      to develop a learning-focused partnership with each school

b.      to deepen relationships between the ASC and the schools

c.       to reorganize and re-culture the ASC to become a support center for each school

d.      to support the teaching and learning process

e.      to develop a culture of stewardship

f.        to support continual improvement

Benefits of the ASC

Having a service-minded Administrative Support Center has benefitted Kingsport City Schools in many ways.

1.       The ASC Teams allow Central Office volunteers to contribute service to their selected schools so that teaching assistants can remain in classrooms, working directly with students.  This supports the KPS philosophy of placing instructional assistants in classrooms and subsequently has saved thousands of hours of instructional time with students. ASC volunteers have helped with individual student tutoring, student-led data conferences, read to student groups, and provide other support for students.

2.      ACS Teams provide an opportunity to reach-out and support families and the community.  Projects such as “Stuff the Bus” school supply distribution, the “Family Food Box” distribution, the “Pre-K Community Thanksgiving Luncheon”, and the “Pancakes for Parents Breakfast” provide chances for community engagement as well as community support.

3.       The ASC teams volunteer effort provide a cost savings for the school system. An average of 1,300 volunteer hours are logged annually.  This saves KCS an average of $15,600 every year.

4.      The volunteer spirit models servant leadership for those at the school level, including students.


Why We Like This Entry

We appreciate practices that strengthen the relationship between central office and the schools.  Too often an “us” versus “them” mentality exits and we applaud KSC for transforming the central office role.  Additionally, we like the focus on process and performance management.

Kingsport has developed a systematic process for developing and sustaining the ASCs

Kingsport has developed a systematic process for developing and sustaining the ASCs

·         KSC has developed a detailed process for creating and sustaining ASC Teams.  This process is shared with all stakeholders

·         Performance is tracked and measured.  It’s not just central office monitoring productivity of the schools, they are also holding themselves accountable. Their volunteer hours ae shared with principals during the summer and the hours are share with faculty and staff at the beginning of each school year.

·         Finally, we love this practice because it has as its end goal, support for the student in the classroom.  Our work at LEAN Frog is about efficiency and effectiveness in non-instructional areas and support services all of which lead to and promote student achievement.  This practice frees up instructional assistants so they can be in the classroom and focus on instruction.  As Michael Hubbard, Director of Performance Excellence at KCS stated, “Kingsport City Schools works diligently to develop processes that will support efficient operations that prioritize student achievement.”  Or as Superintendent Ailshie said “This award helps to validate the importance of having processes in place that assure our administrative work always remains focused on our students and schools.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie accept the $3,000 cash prize from LEAN Frog Co-founders Byron and Sherri Headrick

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie accept the $3,000 cash prize from LEAN Frog Co-founders Byron and Sherri Headrick


Congratulations Kingsport City schools for your GRAND-PRIZE WINNING entry.  We applaud the work your school system is doing to promote servant leadership and continuous improvement at the central office level and throughout the school system.











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Tennessee’s Best Winner Maury County – Putting Students on the Pathway to Success

This is the third post in a six-part series recognizing the winners of the Tennessee’s Best and Alabama’s Best contests.  Our previous posts featured Alabama’s Best runner-up Crestline Elementary and Tennessee’s Best runner-up Lauderdale County.


maury co -key successTeachers, principals, directors, board members, parents and community members may disagree about many things in public education.  The one thing they can all agree on is the need for students to be successful in life beyond their K-12 years. Here again disagreements may arise over how best to achieve that success and how to recognize what success looks like. 

Maury County Public Schools (MCPS) in Columbia, Tennessee has worked with all stakeholders (i.e., teachers, administrators, board members, parents, and community members) to guarantee that all students have access to high quality academic programs that will give them a great start on life.  Maury County and their “Keys to College and Career Readiness” program were recognized by LEAN Frog and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) as a Runner-up Winner in the Inaugural Tennessee’s Best Contest. 

Developing the Keys

Participants in a data collection session at Maury County

Participants in a data collection session at Maury County

The 7 “Keys” to College and Career Readiness is a systemic and systematic alignment program ensuring that all 22 public schools within the system are working on academic success for all students.  MCPS conducted data collection sessions with over 46 different groups comprised of students, parents, teachers, principals, bus drivers, businesses, the County Commission, school board members, Chambers of Commerce, and others.  The goal was to get a better understanding of what students should know and be able to do by certain grades.

With a grand total of 9,327 responses (3,354 for elementary; 3,035 for middle school; 2,938 for high school), keys were identified for each grade level to help put students on the pathway to success–two keys each for elementary and middle school, and three for high school.  The resulting 7 Keys ensured that all schools had academic objectives that were created with community input.  The 7 Keys were introduced to the community at a press conference in January 2016.  By May 2016, MCPS had already seen increases in performance on the keys.

Sustaining the Keys

Following the identification of the 7 Keys, teachers were asked what resources they needed to help more students meet the Keys each year.  Principals and Central Office department heads presented these needs (backed with data) to the MCPS Board of Education.  After board deliberation, the district budget was submitted to the County Commission  for approval.  The County Commission approved the budget and the Keys were funded.  To safeguard long-term funding, MCPS has built a development worksheet tracking the resources needed and funding required to maintain or accelerate progress.  Additionally, both the district and each school track students’ performance through scorecards that identify conditions for intervention as well as stretch targets. 

Why we Like this Entry

There are many impressive facets of the 7 Keys.  Here are just a few:

·         The Keys ensure that all staff members know what to focus on and why. 

·         Involving teachers and principals in system-wide improvement increases morale.   

·         The collaborative way in which the 7 Keys were developed increases teacher, student, parent, and community buy-in.

·         The data-driven decision-making for funding requests promotes transparency and trust:  between staff and Central Office, between school board and County Commission, between school and city leadership and the larger community. 

In short, the deliberately inclusive and systematic approach to developing and sustaining the 7 Keys helps MCPS foster student success.  As Superintendent Dr. Chris Marczak remarked, “We have already started to see the fruits of our labor with the county and school board investing in the intentional education of children and are excited to see what the coming years bring for education in Maury County.”  We are excited to see what the future holds for Maury County students as well. 

Board Chair David Bates and Superintendent Dr. Chris Marczak accept $1000 cash prize from LEAN Frog co-founder Byron Headrick

Board Chair David Bates and Superintendent Dr. Chris Marczak accept $1000 cash prize from LEAN Frog co-founder Byron Headrick

Congratulations Maury County on your award-winning entry.  We applaud the work your school system is doing to ensure that ALL students have access to high quality academic programs and that MCPS staff, parents, and community are involved in defining what that means.

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Tennessee’s Best Award Winner Lauderdale County – Improving Literacy and Improving Lives

This is the first post in a six-part series recognizing the winners of the Tennessee’s Best and Alabama’s Best contests.  We hope these great examples of best practices in Tennessee and Alabama public education inspire you as they did us.


“Teaching a child to read is one of the most important jobs an educator has.”

These are the words of Jennifer Jordan, Director of Literacy and Instructional Interventions at Lauderdale County Schools in Ripley, TN.   Lauderdale County Schools was recognized by LEAN Frog and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) as a Runner-up Winner in the Inaugural “Tennessee’s Best K-12 Practices” Contest.   Their “Extended Literacy Initiative (ELI) – Meeting the Needs of All Students” entry details their plan to improve the lives of at risk students by providing targeted assistance to struggling readers.

LEAN Frog Co-founders Byron and Sherri Headrick present Superintendent Shawn Kimble with $1,000 cash prize for Lauderdale County’s entry.

LEAN Frog Co-founders Byron and Sherri Headrick present Superintendent Shawn Kimble with $1,000 cash prize for Lauderdale County’s entry.


The Challenge:

  • Children of poverty often enter kindergarten with oral language and emergent literacy skills two to three years behind peers (Fielding et al, 2011, Hart & Risley, 1995)
  • For these students who are significantly behind their peers, a typical one-year gain is not enough to effectively close the literacy gaps.
  • For students to achieve literacy at accelerated rates, administrators and teachers must adjust their daily and weekly schedules to significantly increase the amount of time for small-group literacy instruction” (Canady and Canady, 2012).

Lauderdale County’s Response:

The district launched their Extended Literacy Initiative (ELI) to address the fact that many of their students are at a significant risk of reading failure due to limited early literacy experiences.  The ELI action plan has two-pronged approach.

1)Lauderdale County’s Pre-K Literacy Initiative features innovative scheduling

Lauderdale County’s Pre-K Literacy Initiative features innovative scheduling

  1. Innovative scheduling to increase the amount of time for literacy. For example, Pre-K students receive 150 minutes of literacy instruction daily.
  2. An emphasis on increasing the rigor and fidelity of literacy instruction.  In the K-3 Reduce Group Instruction, students receive targeted phonics instruction so they can reach or exceed grade level exit expectations.  During the extension labs, students practice skills learned during whole group and/or reduced group instruction.

The results have been impressive.

  • 77% of pre-K students met the developmental benchmarks in all seven areas measured by the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS-Pre-K)
  • Students are entering first grade with much better decoding skills than previous years
  • SAT-10 data has shown significant gains in reading scores (word reading, word study skills, reading comprehension) for grades K-2 over the last three years.

Superintendent Shawn Kimble points to an important benefit of the ELIs–informed and engaged community members.  As he remarked, “Through the tireless efforts of our teachers and administrators, students in our county have made tremendous progress with their skills in literacy.  These efforts have brought about community awareness concerning the importance of daily reading to and with children at home.”

Why we Like this Entry:

2)A Lauderdale County student practices the skills learned during whole group and/or reduced group instruction.

A Lauderdale County student practices the skills learned during group instruction.

While many schools and school systems have taken on the poverty-literacy gap challenge, the intentional nature of Lauderdale County’s ELIs has proven extremely successful.  They understand the critical importance of students learning to read by the end of the 3rd grade and have structured their school day to meet that need.  They also have involved the community.  The school system and the community sponsor a “Lace Up for Literacy” 5K walk/run to bring awareness to Tennessee’s “Read 20” campaign.

Perhaps Jennifer Jordan said it best, “Our goal for all students in Lauderdale County is to experience success in both school and the future.  Literacy is the avenue by which our students meet this goal.  Not only do we want our students to be proficient readers, but we also want them to find joy in reading that will continue throughout their lives.”


Congratulations again Lauderdale County for your award-winning entry!  We applaud the work you do to close literacy gaps and to improve the lives of all students.

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Reflecting on 2014 Opportunities and Looking Ahead to 2015

As 2014 comes to a close, we take this time to reflect on the many wonderful opportunities the year provided.  Through collaborations with our esteemed partners and with the hard work of our amazing team members, LEAN Frog has been privileged to serve and support students, educators, and communities.  I’d like to take a moment to thank a few of those organizations that have helped make LEAN Frog’s 2014 a rewarding year.


  • We would like to thank the Alabama Association of School Boards for being a co-sponsor of the inaugural Alabama’s Best Award that recognized the Best Practices and Innovations in the non-instructional departments of K-12 public schools in Alabama.  We congratulate award winners Tarrant City Schools, Huntsville City Schools and Sylacauga City Schools as well as all of those school systems across Alabama who work hard every day.

$3,000 Grand Prize Winner – Tarrant City Schools (Top); $1.000 Runner Up – Sylacauga City Schools (Bottom Left); $1,000 Runner Up – Huntsville City Schools (Bottom Right)

  • Thank you Reach Out & Read Alabama which prepares Alabama’s children to succeed in school by working with pediatric health care providers to incorporate pre-literacy counseling with families into their well-child visits and to provide new books at each of those visits.  LEAN Frog was honored to provide a Kindle e-reader and ten books to this worthy organization and we thank Reach Out & Read for its commitment to literacy promotion.
  • Thank you Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville through whom we supported the “End Polio Now” campaign sponsored by Rotary International

    LEAN Frog team members Byron Headrick and Dave Knowles receive Rotary Club's prestigious Paul Harris Fellow award in June.

    LEAN Frog team members Byron Headrick and Dave Knowles receive Rotary Club’s prestigious Paul Harris Fellow award in June.

  • Thank you Hartselle City Schools for your IMPACT Wellness Initiative that addresses the problem of childhood obesity.  LEAN Frog is proud to be a sponsor of your program and we commend you the initiative you have taken to promote healthy lifestyles for your employees and your students.
  • We sincerely appreciate the honor and recognition that the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce bestowed on us as recipient of the 2014 Small Business of the Year Award for the Business and Professional Services category.  We thank Alabama A&M University for the prestigious 2014 “Excellence is Not Optional” award and for their support of small businesses.


    Thank you Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce and Alabama A&M University for recognizing our company.


LEAN Frog helps public schools improve efficiency and effectiveness in their non-instructional departments through the practical application of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) tools.  We are grateful to those organizations that have allowed us to provide training for their members and introduce LSS thinking, systems and tools:

  • Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) as our partner with the half-day executive leader training on Lean Six Sigma process improvement and performance management and the opportunity to award Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification to attendees.
  • Alabama Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) as our partner with the engaging “Lean Office” workshop featuring a panel of Alabama Lean Frog School System clients speaking about the benefits of implementing lean six sigma within their business office operations.

The success of these workshops have led to upcoming training we will conduct in early 2015.

  • The upcoming “Strategies for Fiscal Sustainability in Harsh Economic Times:  Building School District Efficiency Through Lean Six Sigma” half day workshop for superintendents co-sponsored with the School Superintendents of Alabama (SSA) January 22, January 29 and February 5.
  • The Southeastern Association of School Business Officials (SASBO) Discovery Forum in April 2015 where LEAN Frog will use interactive simulations to introduce Lean Six Sigma tools and concepts to business officials throughout the southeast.


Lean Frog's Dave Knowles (left) chats with Georgia Superintendent of the Year Dr. Philip Lanoue (Clarke County Schools) at the GSBA/GSSA Annual Conference.

Lean Frog’s Dave Knowles (left) chats with Georgia Superintendent of the Year Dr. Philip Lanoue (Clarke County Schools) at the GSBA/GSSA Annual Conference.

As always, we express our gratitude to our clients for their business and for their friendship.

  • 2014 was a productive year as we expanded our service offerings this year to include Stakeholder Driven Strategic Planning. We thank Hartselle City Schools and Cullman County Schools for the trust they have placed in us as we work together to develop a long-range, measurable strategic plan for their respective systems.
  • LEAN Frog had the wonderful opportunity of conducting Lean Opportunity Readiness Assessments (LORA) for several Tennessee school systems and of securing our first Tennessee public school system client.  We thank Hamblen County Schools for the confidence they have placed in us and we excited about working with this great school system.
  • In December, we had the great pleasure of participating in our first event in Georgia at the 2014 GSBA/GSSA Annual Conference.  We look forward to building relationships with school systems in both Tennessee and Georgia as we continue our relationships with school systems in Alabama.  We are most grateful for the opportunity to serve public schools by doing what we love.

On behalf of the LEAN Frog team, I would like to wish you a wonderful 2015 filled with many wonderful opportunities and much success.

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Addressing the Concern of Fiscal Sustainability in Public Education

Fiscal Sustainability in Public Education being taught in middle TN

Dr. Rebecca Sharber (Franklin Co. Schools), Chad Moorehead (Moore Co. Schools), and Jerry Boyd (Putnam Co. Schools) discuss applying DMAIC to specific challenges in their school systems

If there is a single concern shared by superintendents, it is fiscal sustainability while providing the best education for students.  To address this concern, LEAN Frog provided a half day training course to small groups of superintendents in East, Middle and West Tennessee as part of the company’s partnership with the Tennessee Organization of Superintendents (TOSS) Leadership Institute.   The course “Strategies for Fiscal Sustainability in Harsh Economic Times: Building School System Efficiency through Lean Six Sigma (LSS)” addressed how LSS could be applied to create fiscal sustainability in public education through reducing costs and increasing the value provided to students.

Discussing what he refers to as “the big squeeze”–pressure to excel in academics and at the same time having funding reduced, instructor Byron Headrick, MBB (LEAN Frog co-founder and president) emphasized, “Pressure can drive feverish action. The key is to take action based on what’s most important.  We have to engage in the activities that produce the most value for our students, parents and communities.”

Teaching Fiscal Sustainabilty in Public Education in west TN

Susan Bunch (Lexington City Schools), Steve Wilkinson (Henderson Co. Schools), Dr. Buddy Bibb (Tipton Co. Schools), Johnny McAdams (Carroll Co. Schools) and instructor Byron Headrick (LEAN Frog) use a fishbone diagram to analyze substitute teacher shortages

The course provided an overview of LEAN Frog’s “Five Lean Principles for Public Education,” addressed Value Stream Mapping and DMAIC–LSS approaches for innovating and problem-solving,  and provided pointers for where and how to start applying LSS tools.  As the superintendents learned about the tools, they engaged the instructor and each other about how to apply the tools to specific challenges they faced in their respective school systems.   Technical terms like fishbone diagrams, SIPOC, and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) became more understandable as the concepts were applied to challenges ranging from substitute teacher shortages to rolling out new initiatives in transportation departments.    The course concluded with DISC leadership training so the superintendents could have a basic understanding of facilitation and communication styles when working with teams to innovate or solve problems.
Barry Olhausen (TOSS, Assistant Executive Director) remarked “With the expert guidance of Byron, our Tennessee superintendents dug deep to discover how Lean Six Sigma could assist us in reducing waste, saving time and increasing efficiency in our non-instructional areas.  The real payoff came with the realization that savings in these areas would help us in enhancing our instructional programs.”

east TN superintendents discussing fiscal sustainability in public education

Dr. Dale Lynch (Hamblen Co. Schools), Dr. Jeanne Barker (Lenoir City Schools), and Johnny McDaniel (Bradley Co. Schools) discuss operational and organizational wastes.

After successful completion of the training exam, course participants will receive a yellow belt certification in Lean Six Sigma.

Have questions about applying Lean Six Sigma to improve fiscal sustainability in public education?

Need help implementing LSS tools in your school?

Have concerns about sustaining the improvements your team has already made?

Simply want to know why and how Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) should be utilized in public education?

Feel free to contact LEAN Frog.



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Yellow Belt Certification for Tennessee School Superintendents

The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) and LEAN Frog, a TOSS Institute Sponsor, are TOSS Logoinviting Tennessee School Superintendents to attend a Lean Six Sigma workshop in mid-July 2014.  This free half-day workshop will be held at locations in eastern, middle and western Tennessee in mid-July.  Participants will receive:

  • Yellow Belt Certification (Executive Leadership Training) in Lean Six Sigma approaches to drive efficiencies in school system’s non-instructional operations
  • Their own DISC behavior profile (a useful tool that can provide understanding of communication styles and approaches) and training on how to use DISC to enhance improvement team performance
  • One day of CEO credit from TOSS.

Registration will  begin at 8:30 AM each morning and the program will conclude by early afternoon. Lunch will be provided. Interested Tennessee School Superintendents may make a reservation here. 

LEAN Frog specializes in helping school districts reduce costs (thereby increasing resources for academics), avoid litigation, and decrease fiscal risk through the deployment of Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement and Performance Management Tools. LEAN Frog has worked with a number of school districts in with very impressive results and is now beginning to offer its services in Tennessee.

The title for this workshop is:  Strategies for Fiscal Sustainability in Harsh Economic Times:  Building School District Efficiency through Lean Six Sigma.

This course is an executive leader overview on using Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement and Performance Management Tools to drive efficiency in school system’s non-instructional departments. By the end of this course attendees will have a detailed understanding of:

1.  Understand Operational and Organizational Wastes and how they negatively impacts school system performance;

2.  How to use Process Improvement and Performance Management approaches (i.e. Lean Six Sigma) to eliminate and reduce Operational and Organizational Wastes;

3.  How to select and set-up key process metrics;

4.  How to use those measures through a management system to drive fiscal sustainability and academic performance;

5.  What pitfalls should be avoided when implementing process improvement techniques.

For further information about the TOSS Institute, please contact Barry Olhausen at (615) 254-1955 or at barry@tosstn.com.


TOSS is the leading advocate organization for public education in the state of Tennessee.  Since 1975, TOSS has been progressing public education and addressing the needs of its administrators.   For more information about TOSS, please go to:  www.tosstn.com

Headquartered in Huntsville, AL, LEAN Frog’s mission is to help public schools succeed through increasing the value they deliver to students, faculty, parents, and communities while fully engaging employees, reducing costs and building a spirit of continuous improvement.  

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