Annually, Talent Development Secondary hands out awards to TDS staff who best exemplify one of the six guiding principles:
- Closest to Home
This reflects the value that the best decisions are made closest to the situation. Example: an IF who has successfully customized the TDS model or instructional approach to meet the needs of the school, teachers and students they were serving. In the context of problem-solving, this TDS staff member seeks resolutions as close to home as possible
- Reflective Process
Regular reflective practices help align actions with intentions – This recognizes TDS staff who consistently demonstrates and supports their peers with engaging in regular reflective practice
Collaboration adds value, insight, and promotes growth. This award recognizes TDS staff who worked collaboratively to develop, refine and implement components of TDS
- Students First
TDS promote that we default to what is best for students. This is a TDS staff member who clearly advocates for students – is frequently heard asking – “how will that help students or students at this school to succeed”
- Sustained Effort
Sustained effort over time leads to success. This award recognizes TDS staff who demonstrates persistence: They did not give up and continued to explore all possible solutions to a challenge so that a school or students’ needs could be addressed
- Professional Growth
TDS values the development and growth of all staff. Examples include: an avid reader who shares/applies work-related books and articles; has completed or taking coursework towards a degree
and one Kevin Cuffie “Above and Beyond” Award that is given to a staff member who demonstrates those most admirable traits of all six of the above guiding principles – by going above and beyond.
The Kevin Cuffie award was created in memory of Kevin Cuffie who served as a field coordinator with Talent Development High Schools. Kevin Cuffie’s major role was to provide technical assistance and training to TDHS school personnel. His expertise was in developing and implementing School to Work Program, Career Planning; School-to-College Partnerships; and Postsecondary Opportunities Programming.
This year’s winners:
- Closest to Home:
Mel Goodman, Math Instructional Facilitator, New York
The winner of this award has truly become part of the school’s family. This person has motivated teacher’s team through weekly PDs, daily coaching, and relationship building. This person understands the power of great teachers and strives to ensure that every teacher in the department is delivering high quality instruction. Just as important, this person also ensures that the voices of teachers are being heard. This person is a dedicated teacher and student advocate!
This person has been embedded at his/her site full time this past year, and “flexed” to serve students and teachers in an intensive way throughout the year, requesting additional materials when needed, and customizing the practice to the school’s context. With this person’s support and in deep partnership with teachers, the principal and STF, the school’s scores soared this year from 19% to 55% pass rate math.
- Reflective Process:
Tina Mott, Math Instructional Facilitator, Tulsa
The winner of this award has worked diligently over the past several years to help the teachers and administrators in their city understand and engage in the coaching cycle. This person also demonstrates regular reflective practice as a member of the TDS city team.
This person has worked diligently to customize the TDS model and instructional support to meet the needs of our schools by always questioning how he/she can be more impactful and strategic about the TA support provided. This person has worked hard to make sure he/she is at every school and district leadership meeting voicing expertise about TDS, and how our TA support impacts student success.
Lori Takawira, School Transformation Facilitator, Tulsa
This year’s winner consistently seeks to collaborate with school, external and DN partners to ensure the students at his/her school to be set up for success. This team member has a true skill at ‘connecting the dots’ across various organizations and bringing adults together to support students. This person is an exemplar of working with all partners with a can-do, no excuses attitude. This person is always positive and will go the extra mile in whatever is asked.
- Students First:
Andrea Schwartz, School Transformation Facilitator, Los Angeles
One of the nominations for this read: When I read the description for this award, I could hear this person’s voice asking that question, “How is this good for our students? How can we meet their needs? “This team member has been an advocate first for the students he/she serves since she joined TDS five years ago.
Every decision and action she/he makes is clearly for the benefit of students. Whether at their school, or when asked to help at other local schools, this person constantly seeks to learn, collaborate, support, sustain consistent efforts and grow to provide the best possible learning and growing environment for the students. This person clearly cares about education, and is now pursues a Counseling credential. But at the core, all she does is rooted in love and care for kids!
- Sustained Effort (2 recipients):
Keisha Browne, School Transformation Facilitator, New York
This team member finds a way to make things work and never gives up! He/she has shown great dedication, grit, and relentless pursuit of results this year. Being a new STF is not easy, especially when implementing a model outside of our traditional model. Yet, this team member has embraced this work head on and shown humility and desire to succeed by doubling down efforts around planning, coordination, and team leadership at the school site.
This person embodies persistence. When faced with challenges, she/he always defaults to doing what is right for students. This team member has been able to sift through the daily challenges to identify immediate student and family needs. The ongoing efforts towards developing a truly engaged parent association have been inspiring and effective.
This work is never going to be easy, but this person demonstrates that in time we can learn to get better and better at this most complicated work.
Nick Stamos, Detroit Field Manager
Although reflective practices are evident in every TDS staff member’s work, this manager leads our team through reflective discussions and the creation of action plans based on those discussions. When possible, team meetings are held live when IFs are in town, and between visits, this person facilitates team conference calls during which they share, reflect, and are equally respected in recommending next steps based on most recent data, observations, and experiences in the schools we serve. Our schools are challenged on every level, and being close to the scene, this person informs us of those challenges in a mindful manner as we plan our support.
This person’s enthusiasm for TDS’ work in our city and surrounding areas has never flagged, despite a dearth of funding opportunities at times and lack of cooperation from school districts. He/she continues to cultivate benefactors and identify grants possibilities, and takes an active role in completing those grants. This team member always listens and acts upon suggestions made by other team members; shares ideas and information to help others achieve their goals, and makes sure that decisions are made collaboratively. He continually remains positive as he leads us through the reflective process to positively impact the schools…
- Professional Growth:
Felicia Walker, S4 Facilitator
This team member is a skillful, conscientious, dedicated professional who thoroughly understands how students learn and how effective teams operate. She has a wealth of experience from working with schools, administrators, students, teachers, and families from a variety of cultural backgrounds and educational systems.
This colleague is the Jack of all trades; is constantly seeking ways to be more knowledgeable about all aspects of the model and finding new ways of working to make things better for all of TDS and DN. She is a very ingenious individual with so many talents that she shares with others.
This is evidenced by the fact that he/she is a part of multiple work-groups and adds value to each of those groups.
- The Kevin Cuffie “Above and Beyond Award:
Daniel Russell, Interim Field Manager, New York
Danny Russell stepped up this year during a transition time in NYC… He was key in rebuilding the NY team, providing leadership and support to all stakeholders, and generating more sites.
All the while, he’s been taking masters classes at Mercy College, pursuing two separate masters’ degrees at the same time as running point with programming work at 5 schools and assisting in the growth process to get us up to another 2 schools in NYC. He displays a hunger to learn and is always ready to jump in. He also sourced and attended conferences at prestigious conferences in the northeast. Danny can’t be stopped! He will continue to grow with us and is an asset to our work.