Ann Arbor Public Schools receive Benjamin B. Tregoe Award


The Ann Arbor Public School District, Supt. Dr. Jeanice Swift, and several administration team members received the “Special Recognition: Benjamin B. Tregoe Award” from TregoEd during the Dec. 6 Board of Education meeting.

TregoEd, an organization that developed a process to guide school districts in collaborative problem-solving and decision-making, announced the award on Oct. 12.

The award recognizes the district’s comprehensive and diligent work in developing a fair and inclusive process to disseminate bond monies by fully evaluating and understanding current conditions, prioritizing immediate needs, detailing what could be included in the budget and developing a long‐term vision for each of four selected areas. The project included multiple stakeholder groups and created transparent, meaningful community engagement.

According to Jenna Bacolor, executive director of the Community Division of AAPS, it has given the district “a model, tools, and staff capacity to use this process in systems change work for years to come.”

“For over 25 years, TregoEd has helped build decision-making and problem-solving capacity of education leaders,” said Dr. Swift. “These process tools are the essential first step in building leadership capacity and improving student outcomes in a district.”

Dr. Swift said as part of the 2015 bond issue, district officials were eager to put systems and processes in place to leverage the one incredible strength that the community has in Ann Arbor and that is community, parent, student and staff engagement.

“We knew that we would need some processes in order to take a $34-million bond and have it translate into full participation and collaborative and collected decision making,” Dr. Swift said. “Our desire was to develop a model by which we could engender community trust in the process.

“I want to publicly thank our leadership team for their participation in this process.”

Dr. Swift said the outcome of this work is that the district is in the process now of refreshing and renewing the learning environment for all 18,000 students.

“When I am in and out of schools every day I see the excitement around what this bond has provided,” she said. “Over winter break and through next summer, every single classroom will be renewed with new furniture and 5,000 brand new musical instruments right now are in the hands of students. This work will stand the test of time.”

Dr. Kathryn Blackburn, executive director of TregoEd, attended the meeting and presented the school administrators with the award. She the award honors their founder who has she said has been a special contributor to what has made our country great over the years.

“He was a man who believed in the power of people,” she said. “He was committed to helping people think more clearly and effectively to making the best possible use of the most important technology they will ever have and that’s the technology resting on our shoulders.”

The award honors school districts and leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to collaborative problem solving and strategic change. Dr. Blackburn praised the district’s leadership team, saying they “demonstrated in their work a commitment to community stakeholders and ensuring they have a voice, building transparency and trust, making recommendations which are based on targeted areas of need, best practices, aligned with district priorities and are driven by data.”

The award was presented to Ann Arbor Public Schools for “organizational excellence in collaborative decision-making and achieving exceptional results.”
Accepting the award was Dr. Swift and Christine Stead, president of the AAPS Board of Trustees.

Dr. Swift also thanked Dr. Blackburn for her dedication and commitment to Ann Arbor Public Schools. “She (Dr. Blackburn) was with us throughout the process, supported our team leaders and I don’t believe we would have realized the level of success without her support,” she said.


Main photo: (L-R)  Board President Christine Stead, Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift, and TregoEd Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Blackburn.
Insert photo: (L-R) Board President Christine Stead, Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift, Executive Director Elementary Education Dawn Linden, Executive Director Technology and Information Services Merri Lynn Colligan, Executive Director Community Services and School Wellness Jenna Bacolor, and TregoEd Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Blackburn.

See the presentation,

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