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Professional Development

Illuminate seeks to engage educational leaders with high quality professional development services that promote district continuous improvement to ensure all students live to their fullest potential. Below is a sampling of the services available. Each section is available as a downloadable PDF in section header. 

To learn more or talk with us about how we can partner with you on Professional Development, please click here!

Continuous Improvement

(Download PDF Description)
Learning Targets

Cycles of Inquiry

Leaders engage in comprehensive data-informed inquiry cycles to develop systems for strategic improvement.  Participants will be guided through district and site data, investigate root causes, develop theories of improvement, identify measurable goals, apply research based strategies to ensure equitable outcomes for all students

  • Use Data-informed Cycle of Inquiry
  • Analyze Root Causes
  • Develop a Theory of Improvement
  • Identify Measures
  • Plan for Action (Strategies & Research)

PDSA Cycles
(Plan, Do, Study, Act)

Picking up from where the Inquiry Cycle left off, leaders articulate a problem of practice and working theories of improvement to gauge the efficacy of applied strategies. Leaders will form networks in Communities of Practice (CoP) to leverage the collective capacity of the group to identify key levers for change.  Participants will engage in short data cycles by triangulating qualitative and quantitative measures to drive equitable access for all students.

  • Implement Theory of Improvement
  • Answer Essential Questions
  • Reflect on Impact Using Measures
  • Review/Refine/Revise Strategies & Research

Multi Tiered System of Support (MTSS)

Site and District Leaders will explore the factors that students come to school with a wide range of academic, behavioral, and social strengths and needs. To serve these students well, districts/ schools need a carefully crafted plan aligning supports and services to address individual student strengths and needs. A comprehensive, integrated, approach to intervention is a proactive approach to meet the academic, behavioral, and social needs of students. Response to Intervention aims to prevent and respond effectively to the development of learning and behavioral challenges through thoughtful intervention.

  • Engage in an Adoption/Refinement Analysis of Current Practices
  • Planning for Purpose and Coherence
  • Implement Key Strategies and Measurement for Impact
  • Cycles of Continuous Improvement

Needs Assessment
(download pdf)

Conducting a needs assessment is a systematic process of investigating a population or community of educators to assess the state of current resources such as knowledge, abilities, interests, and approaches pertinent to the focus of the needs assessment such as a concern, aspiration, or intention.  A needs assessment is a focused examination of the way things currently are and the way things can or should be in order to fill a gap in services, (e.g., establish trainings to address a specific need). A needs assessment is most commonly conducted to guarantee that there is a need for a type of program or service and to determine what type of content should be included the program curriculum, for example.

  • Collect detailed information about a target population, school and/ or district
  • Surface what needs are being met and what resources exist to support current initiatives
  • Determine what needs are not being addressed and next steps needed to bridge the gap

Dr. Abram Jimenez works with district leadership teams to develop Networked Improvement Communities. He engages district leaders in comprehensive data-informed inquiry cycles to develop systems for strategic improvement. Before joining Illuminate Education, Dr. Jimenez was the Chief of Schools in the San Francisco Unified School District, providing supervision and support to the staff while co-leading the development of the district’s School Quality Improvement System. Abram holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Education from UCLA and a Doctorate from the University of Southern California in K-12 Urban Leadership.


Katie Sellstrom facilitates professional learning opportunities with educators and leaders around MTSS and RTI, early literacy, coaching, and the inquiry cycle. In her previous roles, Katie has served as a District Lead Coach, a site-based Literacy Coach, and an elementary teacher. She earned her B.A. from UC Davis in Political Science, Public Service and her M.A. from CSU Sacramento in Language and Literacy

Scheduling for Continuous Improvement

(Download PDF Description)
Learning Targets

Data Driven Program Placement
(Master Schedule 101)

Current and future site administrators who are interested in a student-centered methodology for building a master schedule.  The session is open to all participants, regardless of SIS. A hands-on, activity-filled day that introduces the theory and practice of master scheduling. Participants will work in groups to create a master schedule beginning with course requests and ending in a completed board.

  • Create a student-centered approach for developing master schedules
  • Identify scheduling priorities
  • Construct a master schedule that meets site goals
  • Schedule for equity and access

Scheduling for Change

District and site administrators interested in using data-centered approach to scheduling and improvement. This session is open to all participants, regardless of SIS. An engaging and collaborative day focused on how to use the master schedule as an instrument for change within a school.

  • Identify measures of success
  • Use data-mapping to visualize the instructional program
  • Identify and locate data for each key transition in the data map.
  • Apply appropriate plan.  Theory of Action,  2-step decision making, etc.
  • Develop a plan for engaging stakeholders

James Fleming is driven by his passion for scheduling, data-driven program placement, and leadership coaching. James first started his career as a middle school science teacher before moving into secondary site leadership, where he helped maximize usage around the master schedule. When James joined the district leadership team as the Director of Assessment, Accountability, and Research, he was instrumental in changing the mentality of testing for testing’s sake. He is known for the phrase: “If you can’t tell me what you’re going to do with the results, you shouldn’t be giving an assessment.”

Equity and Access

(Download PDF Description)
Learning Targets

Improving School Experiences of African American, Latino, and Low - Income Students

School and district-level educators and staff participate in workshops,  collect data, and develop action plans in order to improve the academic skills, and reduce suspension and expulsion rates of African American, Latino, and low-income students.

  • Develop action plans

Student Empowerment

Through interactive workshops, students will develop a Personalized Action Plan that is designed to help them improve their academic skills, resolve conflicts wisely, improve their relationships with peers from different racial/ethnic backgrounds from their own, overcome adversity, and prepare for college or the workforce.

  • Students will develop a Personalized Action Plan

Parent Empowerment

When parents and educators work together to promote students’ academic success, all three groups benefit. Through interactive workshops, parents and guardians will learn strategies to help their children improve their reading, writing, mathematics, and test-taking skills, as well as how to prepare their children for college, how to decrease their children’s chances of being suspended and expelled from school, and how to work more effectively with educators.

  • Parents and guardians will learn strategies to help their children improve their reading, writing, mathematics, test-taking skills, and how to prepare their children for college

Dr. Gail L. Thompson is focused on helping to develop more racially equitable policies and programs within school districts. In her previous positions, Dr. Thompson has served as Wells Fargo Endowed Professor of Education at Fayetteville State University and board member on the African American Advisory Committee for the California State Board of Education. She has written six books and was awarded the “Distinguished Alumna Award” by Claremont Graduate University in 2009.

Comprehensive Student Achievement Systems

(Download PDF Description)
Learning Targets

Standards Schedule and Assessment Development

District and school level educators develop the basis for a comprehensive student achievement system that maximizes student learning.  In this component of the project, Illuminate Education facilitates an efficient process to develop standards schedules and high quality formative assessments, based on state testing specifications.

  • Develop standards schedules
  • Develop high quality formative assessments, based on state testing specifications.

Detailed Data Analysis  and Instructional Planning Based on Data

District and school level educators participate in detailed student data analysis, generated from the assessments developed via the standards schedule and assessment development process.  Illuminate Education works at the district, school site and teacher levels to facilitate data-driven decision making with district leaders, site leaders, and classroom teachers, and how to utilize resources in Illuminate to maximize student achievement.  Illuminate Education also facilitates cross-site collaboration where instructional best practices are identified and shared, to be used in real time in classrooms.

  • Learn detailed skills around  data analysis of student assessments
  • Learn data-driven decision making and how to utilize resources in Illuminate to maximize student achievement
  • Learn how to facilitate cross-site collaboration around instructional best practices

Doug Wells serves Illuminate Education districts in the areas of assessment development and detailed data analysis in supporting the development of comprehensive student achievement systems to maximize student learning and outcomes. Before coming to Illuminate Education, Doug was a high school Biology teacher for nine years and then served as a district Director of Assessment and Accountability for eight years. That experience allowed him to develop a comprehensive student achievement system at the District, Site Leader, and Classroom levels.

Leadership for Success

(Download PDF Description)
Learning Targets

Leadership Strategies to Promote Implementation Success

Find yourself suddenly in charge of an implementation of Illuminate? Whether you are a leader at the county office leading several districts’ implementation of Illuminate, or are a district leader who is leading the district implementation (while doing the rest of your work), the last thing you want to do is spin your wheels. Come learn strategies that will help you as a district leader focus your implementation on success. Topics include making decisions effectively and collaboratively, aligning implementation to school improvement planning, mapping out processes to understand where everyone fits, and leading through change.

  • Learn how to stop the wheel spinning and step up, lead and make actionable decisions collaboratively

  • Make a project’s implementation relevant and sustainable by aligning goals and strategies to school improvement goals

  • Key components that promote successful change will be discussed, and the impact if those components are not present

  • Map key processes involved in implementation and who is involved in order to bring clarity and ownership of tasks


Mike Oswalt has devoted his past 26 years to the education field, often leading the implementation of many technology-based solutions. He spent many of those years serving as the Assistant Superintendent for Regional Technology Services at a County Office of Education in Michigan, Calhoun ISD. In 2015, he started at Illuminate Education with the passion to empower district leaders with intentional and effective implementation strategies. Mike enjoys sharing strategies that apply to any solution with anyone whose passion is student and educator success.

To learn more or talk about how we can partner with you on Professional Development, please click here!

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