How well students learn this year has everything to do with how their teachers are supported. CTQ helped Oak Park Elementary District 97 make sure teachers can always access great coaching and professional learning - no matter how it's delivered.

The challenge

Even if districts are able to bring students back for some in-person learning in fall 2020, the outlook for how educators will be supported is less clear. Oak Park Elementary District 97 in Illinois wasn’t leaving its goals for equity and effectiveness to chance. District leaders needed to be sure that teachers could still access continuous, high-quality coaching and professional learning, no matter what.

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The strategy

District leaders wanted to build capacity for sustaining virtual learning communities and support on three levels. Coaches needed to offer effective, engaging online professional learning for current educators and new hires. Principals needed to build community and efficacy among staff, parents, and students in challenging times. Other educators needed quick access to essentials for building equitable classroom cultures, even when classrooms weren’t physical spaces.

The CCI experience is front and center in how coaches and administrators are planning for next year: summer professional learning, new hire orientation, and back to school team-building and planning.

Emily Fenske, Director of Organizational Learning, D97

The process

D97 leaders cleared agendas for coaches’ and administrators’ regular meetings over one-month periods. This freed time and space to engage in CTQ’s Cultivating Communities for Impact (CCI) experience. Each cohort had opportunities to learn best practices for building rapport, engagement, and effective learning. CTQ facilitators coached participants to design and practice actual sessions they’d lead later in the summer. An extra PD day at the close of the school year was repurposed for all instructional staff to join targeted, 90-minute online workshops to prepare them for teaching in the fall.


As a result of this work:

  • 36 coaches and administrators are prepared as facilitators of online professional learning and support for instructional staff next year.
  • 600 teachers have a starting skills toolkit for online teaching and learning for the fall.
  • 84% of participants strongly agree that CCI was relevant to the work ahead of them next year.
  • 100% of participants agree/strongly agree that they would recommend CCI participation to a colleague.



The South Carolina Department of Education partnered with CTQ to develop a statewide Collective Leadership Initiative (CLI), intended to engage teams of leaders within schools to lead changes that help students meet the Profile of the SC Graduate.