"106% Increase In ELA Outcomes, And In Our Math Scores, We Had A 70% Increase."
Dr. Tom Mahoney
Dr. Heidi Deininger
Despite implementing research-based strategies and strong systems, Oregon Community Unit School District 220 faced frustrating stagnation in student academic achievement. Seeking the missing 5%, Superintendent Tom Mahoney and leadership team committed to our Transformational Leadership process, drawn to the focus on supportive accountability and integrity.
Tom described the feeling of desperation and spinning their wheels despite doing many good things:
"We had great processes in place, great systems in place, but the outcomes weren’t matching the investment in time, energy, effort, and certainly not what we said we were going to do."
Leading in a small town with a district size of 1450 K-12 students, the leadership grappled with plateauing outcomes despite best efforts. In addition, struggled with years of leadership turnover and misalignment between schools. With each new principal or superintendent seeking to make their mark, existing initiatives were often undone, creating a start-and-stop culture that bred skepticism in staff.
Initially hesitant, Heidi agreed to partner with Phoenix Performance Partners, realizing external support could reveal blindspots and address lingering leadership challenges.
"And so the admin team, we were like, we don't want to do this. It's, you know, we have enough other stuff going on."
Tom, Heidi and team felt they were close yet missing an inexplicable something preventing student progress. Though great processes existed, results continuously failed to match staff investment and expectations. The district needed a culture shift to translate well-intentioned strategy into outcomes.
Additionally, the schools and departments tended to operate independently in silos. Each focused narrowly on their own metrics rather than collective district goals. This disconnect yielded inefficient operations and a fragmented experience for students as they transitioned between schools.
The lack of continuity further deteriorated relationships and collaboration among administrators. There was no common purpose binding the team. This environment ultimately impacted learning outcomes across the district, with achievement metrics, attendance and behavior incidents plateauing. Students suffered from the uncoordinated support.
The Transformational Leadership Experience equipped
administrators with both individualized and group coaching plus a multi-day retreat focused on strengths, weaknesses and effective collaboration. Participants developed shared accountability, communication and decision-making habits oriented toward district-wide student growth.
The individualized coaching revealed communication and collaboration blind spots, as well as supported the behavior changes each leader committed to. The ongoing cohort meetings provide administrators an open forum to address issues and nurture transparency.
"It was emotional. It was, it was hard, but it was also really powerful. And like a bond was created there...and then being led on how to provide supportive accountability through that, that to me was the magic."
In short time they saw dramatically improved outcomes and they credit it to their Transformational Leadership Experience. The unified leadership produced remarkable results, with ELA scores increasing 106% alongside a 70% math score rise from 2021-2023. Bolstered trust and district alignment also improved attendance, lowered discipline incidents and increased family involvement. Investing in supportive leadership growth bore fruit in learning outcomes and environment alike.
Dr. Mahoney role modeled transparent communication and humility, inspiring administrators to lead by example. Staff retention stabilized, maintaining valuable institutional knowledge.
Now understanding their contribution to district goals, collaboration enhanced between departments. Students benefit from aligned social-emotional and academic supports year to year.
"In our ELA scores, 106% increase in ELA outcomes. And in our math scores, we had a 70% increase in math outcomes."
Dr. Mahoney highlights investing in alignment, self-reflection and skill building to transform cultures. By focusing internally, leaders can rally staff around shared purpose. Modeling effective collaboration permeates the entire district, enabling students to thrive in a supportive community. The rewards of leadership growth vastly outweigh the investment.
Here’s a testimonial from one of their teachers, Kimberly Radostits, after her experience in our program. She was the 2022 Teacher of the Year for the State of Illinois and finalist for 2023 United States Teacher of the Year (article here).
“The Phoenix Performance experience was not just another professional development but one rooted in personal development. I now know myself and the people I work with in a way that has been truly transformational. As someone that has always been extremely reflective and seeking ways to perfect my practice, I couldn't be more grateful to have been given the gift of perspective from my colleagues that both affirmed and challenged the way I perceive myself and my behavior. As a National Board Certified teacher, I have reflected a lot over the years on what I do well so I can continue those habits AND have been very critical of myself and what I need to work on. The Phoenix Performance Experience gave me the tools I need to make those changes happen as I continue to evolve into the best version of me.”
Kimberly Radostits, NBCT
Oregon Jr/Sr High School