A new year brings about a time of reflection on the year before, an audit of the present, and an opportunity to set intentions and visualize the future. And while technically, any time is a good time to stop, start, or continue a practice, behavior, or habit, there is something about a new year and the idea of day one of a calendar year that provides a timestamp to mark the start of what was to what is.
In reflecting on 2023 and visualizing for 2024, the Region 9 Comprehensive Center has an announcement and an introduction. In the spirit of continuous improvement and to provide a catalyst that supports our desire to make lasting impact in everything we touch (and doing it with style!), R9CC has brought on a new deputy director of Strategy and Innovation.
In the somewhat revised words and swagger of Jay Z… “this is a public service announcement…allow me to re-introduce myself” ... My name is Garry A. Davis. I am a principal technical assistant consultant with AIR and have 15 years of technical assistance (TA) and 5 years of research and evaluation experience in the education field. Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege to design and provide impactful TA to local, state, federal, and foundation clients to improve system and people outcomes, and to manage and support TA and research project teams to do the same. I’ve worked across a number of topic areas including secondary and postsecondary policy and practice areas, and while I consider myself a jack of many trades, a renaissance man of sorts, a pinch hitter when needed, one of the things that grounds me professionally and that is a foundation of my practice is a human centered, service oriented, impact focused facilitator approach.
My belief is that the collective is more powerful than the individual, that the knowledge is in the room, and that by providing the right structure to pull people, process, and systems together, any challenge can be addressed.
In my role as Deputy Director of Strategy and Innovation for Region 9 thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with the Region 9 team as a whole to understand internal capacity building areas of interest and need as well as their understanding of the needs of the states we serve; get connected to the National Comprehensive Center’s workgroups focused on key areas of need across the nation; and engage with all of the Region 9 project teams to learn more about the need their project is seeking to address, the strategy and approaches being implemented to meet the need, and possible areas ripe for innovation.
These meetings have highlighted for me examples of strategy and innovation already present across the work of Region 9, and a consistent focus of not losing sight of the ultimate goal of work in education: ensuring every student, regardless of their need, get what they need to be successful. Some of the themes I’ve seen thus far across our projects include:
Embedding Constituent voice for multiple perspectives and greater buy-in: Illinois Literacy, Iowa Needs Assessment, Illinois Resource Allocation Reviews and Community Engagement, Continuous Improvement of a Statewide Plan for Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition
Using spatial visualization to better align and direct supports to greatest need: Continuous Improvement of a Statewide Plan for Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition; Illinois Wellness Initiatives Inventory and Analysis
Developing program profiles to enhance efficiencies and collaboration: Continuous Improvement for ISBE Department of School and District Leadership; Illinois Wellness Initiatives Inventory and Analysis; Continuous Improvement for Implementation of Il-Empower
While this does not encompass all of our work, the practices we use to stay focused on the ultimate goal of work in education, or all of the strategic and innovative approaches we are implementing, you can find all of our work here and resources here. As we continue to look forward to making a difference in 2024 and bringing innovative solutions and approaches to our projects, join us on our journey and support us by following us on X (Formely known as Twitter), LinkedIn, subscribing to our newsletter, and sharing posts and resources that resonate with you.
Garry Davis is a Principal Technical Assistance Consultant at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and serves as the Deputy Director of State Strategy and Innovation. Davis manages and supports technical assistance and research projects and teams, designing and providing technical assistance to local, state, federal, and foundation clients to improve system outcomes; and leading work focused on postsecondary success, early warning systems, social emotional learning, and implementation science and change facilitation using models such as the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM). He has extensive experience in project leadership; CBAM as a change facilitation method; identifying and providing tailored technical assistance to address identified client needs and outcomes; and participatory facilitation and decision-making.