IPS, Mind Trust choose school-turnaround fellows

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Three new approaches for Indianapolis Public Schools—one focused on entrepreneurship, one using the Montessori method and one blending online and classroom learning—will be launched in the next two years by fellows selected by Indianapolis Public Schools and The Mind Trust.

The fellows, announced Thursday, will receive salaries and benefits, as well as mentoring and office space, to start up their new school concepts. Pending approval by the IPS board, those new school concepts will be rolled out in three of IPS’ lowest-performing schools.

The fellows are:

— Lauren Franklin, the principal of IPS’ Francis W. Parker Montessori School, which offers grades K-8. She aims to develop another Montessori school serving grades K-12.

— Heather Tsavaris, a former senior intelligence analyst focus on terrorist groups at the U.S. Department of State. She wants to start a school focused on entrepreneurship.

— Earl Martin Phalen and Marlon Llewellyn will work as a team to launch IPS’ first “blended learning” school, serving grades K-6. Phalen is the founder of the Summer Advantage program and the Phalen Leadership Academy. Llewellyn is dean of scholars at Arlington High School, an IPS school that is currently combining cutting-edge technology with classroom instruction to tailor to K-6 students’ individual needs.

“The fellowship will provide a pathway to unleash their talent to benefit more students within IPS,” said David Harris, CEO of The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform group.

The Mind Trust and IPS announced the Innovation School Fellowship in April, promising to pay each fellow $100,000 plus benefits valued at $29,000.

However, a Mind Trust spokeswoman said Thursday that exact amounts of the awards are now uncertain.

The Mind Trust will pay full fellow salary and benefits for two years to Franklin and Tsavaris, so they have adequate time to flesh out their school concepts. Llewellyn will receive salary and benefits for one year and Phalen will forego any salary.

Lilly Endowment Inc. recently made a grant of $1.5 million to The Mind Trust to fund the fellowships, as well as expenses The Mind Trust would incur supporting fellows’ work. The Mind Trust plans to award up to nine fellowships in total over three years.

“We’re excited to see the winners begin their work and launch schools providing excellent educational opportunities for our students,” said IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee.

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