Imagine Schools at Camelback – A Model for Effective School Turnaround

Article published on Feb. 8, 2012 in the Spring Edition of the Arizona Department of Education Quarterly Newsletter.
Imagine Schools at Camelback is an urban campus located in a four story former office building in Phoenix. We serve a diverse student population including 25% ELL, and 98% qualifying for free and reduced lunch. In the spring of 2009, AIMS results put Imagine Camelback in the bottom 5% of schools in the state. Recognizing that we were failing the students on this campus, we reached out for help and support from ADE and the Federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. At the end of the first year of implementation, the ratio of students passing rose by 26 percentage points in reading and 27 percentage points in math. The transformation as a result of ADE support and the turnaround model has been phenomenal. Key components in the transformation include: purchasing new curricular resources, team collaboration, data driven decision making, focused professional development and coaching support for teachers. The campus has a full time data coach, curriculum coach, math interventionist and reading specialists. These positions are all supported by SIG. Under the direction of Principal Freddie Villalon and Assistant Principal Debbie Yarbrough, the school holds weekly Wildly Important Goals (WIGS) meetings. The goals reflect the regional goals along with addressing the needs of the campus. During the weekly meetings staff reviews school level and grade level data. Teams reflect and offer advice for growth. The level of collaboration on our campus has transformed the culture of the school; not only for the staff, but also for the students and families we serve. The staff also creates Professional Individual Growth Plans which are reviewed and revised with each benchmark. With the end of the year goal being 80% passing AIMS, teachers create mini-goals along the way. When they reach their goals they receive a performance growth stipend. Professional development has also been a key element for our teachers who have attended workshops on: Effective teaching strategies, developing learning goals, success criteria, quality questioning, student engagement, data driven decision making including small group instruction and Tier I interventions. Mr. Villalon has supported students learning by extending the instructional day. He has also begun a Saturday School program that reinforces and reteaches skills to around 100 students every week. It is our mission at Imagine Camelback to provide our children with the best quality education possible. We truly believe that one teacher can shape a child and one child can change the world. Freddie Villalon is principal at Imagine Schools at Camelback. He can be reached at: [email protected]