School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership (SAIL)

SAIL logo

One of the greatest challenges in education is to maintain focus on what matters most for student learning amid the daily demands of the job and within an environment of unprecedented expectations for student results. Yet within this context, research asserts the importance of concentrated and sustained effort:  schools that focus and develop deep knowledge and skill on a “vital few” improvement strategies outperform those that lack focus.   

SAIL is designed to assist school and district leadership teams in creating a coherent and connected plan for transforming education at the local level within a complex environment, and in the process, instill confidence throughout the system for powerfully moving forward.

Registration is open through March 15, 2019 for the seventh cohort of the SAIL Academy, which will launch on June 17, 2019, at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Wisconsin school leaders will be reimbursed up to 75% of the registration fee for completing an eligible Academy (will not be less than 50%). Reimbursement is limited and will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis, and eligibility is limited to licensed and practicing public or private school administrators

Registration must be paid in full by November 30, 2019. Reimbursements will be processed at the completion of the Academy.

What makes SAIL unique?

A Common Process Leading to a Customized Solution 
Although SAIL provides a common, research-based framework and problem-solving process for the work, there is no predetermined cookie-cutter for each team’s improvement agenda.  Rather, through our SAIL methods, each team discovers its own, customized pathway forward appropriate to the local data and context.  Participants repeatedly tell us that they appreciate the authenticity of the SAIL process.

Create Shared Understanding and Focus
Teams in SAIL develop a shared understanding around the school’s biggest work that builds collective focus and commitment.  And where teacher leaders are included within the SAIL team, trust across stakeholder groups is especially being cultivated and grown. 

Develop Deep Capacity and Distribute Leadership
With this focus, commitment and shared understanding in place, teams are organized and energized to develop deep skill around efforts that will have the biggest impact on local results.  Moreover, and importantly, through this process of developing deeper understanding and skill, the school is equipped to distribute leadership across the building more effectively so that it can more readily impact students.

Engage in Ongoing Coaching and Support
Ongoing coaching support helps each team learn how to design and implement systems of thinking and doing, in ways that support discovery of solutions evolving from a blend of research, field experience, and local conditions.  Moreover, through gradual release, the SAIL design prepares each team for sustainability of key systems and processes when transitioning out of the program two years later.

Organize Through 100-Day Improvement Cycles
100-day improvement cycles at the heart of the program keep teams focused on the regular inquiry, planning, action, monitoring, and reflection necessary to accelerate the learning and improvement processes, which lead to higher results. 

Exceptional Feedback from Participants
Strong participant feedback continues to roll in over five years of work with teams across Wisconsin to date.  For example, participants regularly tell us that the overall quality of teamwork, discussion, and seminars facilitated through SAIL is in the 90% range and above. 

Cohort Dates and Locations 

SAIL currently has two cohorts open.

  • The Sixth Cohort (which began in 2018) will move into its second year of SAIL in 2019-20.
  • The Seventh Cohort with registration now open will launch in June 2019.
  • The workshops registration will begin at 8:30 am with a 9 am welcome and a 3:30 pm dismissal. 

SAIL Meeting Dates for the
Seventh Cohort  
(Full-day Workshops / Seminars)

SAIL Meeting Dates for the
Sixth Cohort
(Full-day Workshops / Seminars)

 Year One 

·    June 17-19, 2019
 Kalahari Resort, WI Dells

·    December 4, 2019
Wilderness Resort, WI Dells

·    March 11, 2020 
Wilderness Resort, WI Dells

 Year One 

·    June 18-20, 2018
Kalahari Resort, WI Dells

·    November 28, 2018 
Wilderness Resort, WI Dells

·    March 13, 2019 
Kalahari Resort, WI Dells

Year Two 

·    June 22-24, 2020 
Kalahari Resort, WI Dells

·    Late Fall 2020 -- 1 Day TBD

·    Late Winter 2021 -- 1 Day TBD

 Year Two 

·    June 17-19, 2019
Kalahari Resort, WI Dells

·    December 4, 2019 
Wilderness Resort, WI Dells

·    March 11, 2020 
Wilderness Resort, WI Dells



Hotel Information

Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells
Book by 11/3/19
Leader #744786

Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells
Leader #744803
Book by 2/9/20

Program Requirements and Cost

  1. SAIL is a two-year, cohort program.  Those districts/schools/team members registering are making a commitment to the SAIL program and to other cohort teams for the full two years of the program, starting June 2019. 
  2. The district superintendent/school principal and all other team leaders registered actively engage in all aspects of the SAIL program, including participation in each of the identified training days (a total of 10 over two years as described above).
  3. Participation in monthly coaching sessions over the first 6 months, tapering to once every other month or as needed afterwards.
  4.  Payment of $599 per person/per year for participation in this two-year program. 

What WI Participants are Saying About SAIL 

District-level Administrators

The guidance we’ve had from the SAIL faculty team—Joe, Tammy, Jody, and Kevin—has been absolutely remarkable.  I can say with 100% certainty that we would not have made the strides that we have made along our continuous journey had it not been for the SAIL Academy and the work that these folks have engaged with us on.  I would tell any school district that’s interested and serious about continuous improvement that this is a resource that they really look strongly upon.
-Ryan Nelson, Superintendent, Augusta School District

I would definitely recommend SAIL to other educational leaders. It’s an opportunity not only to grow individually but an opportunity to bring a team of people together. And the materials, resources and those networking opportunities (both within your own team and with other school districts) really opens the gates to those opportunities, giving you the ability to think outside of the box, take some risks, and do some great things for kids and for your district. So I would highly recommend the SAIL process.
-Blake Peuse, Superintendent, St. Francis School District

Bringing coherence to an entire system, large or small, is always a challenge. SAIL has given our district a focused direction, common language, and a framework that provides teacher clarity around the vital few that most impact student results. I would recommend this academy for anyone seeking the power of less is more.
- Jody Landish, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Waukesha School District

Our district's participation in SAIL has greatly assisted our team's capacity to collectively engage in a process that will directly affect student learning and outcomes for years to come!  Through on-going planning, plan review, and instructional coaching, our team's goals are being met.  Our participation in SAIL has allowed our district to reach our highest levels of focus regarding student learning.  At a time when it can be easy to get distracted in countless initiatives, the SAIL process has deeply impacted our ability to remain focused on student learning.
-Terry Slack, District Administrator, School District of Wisconsin Dells

It can be easy for school districts to talk about the positive impact of distributive leadership practices on student success. SAIL provided us with a framework to move beyond talk toward specific action steps that have transformed how we approach improvement efforts. 
- Kevin Bruggink, Superintendent, Oostburg School District

The School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership (SAIL) has greatly benefitted the School District of Bloomer Administrative Team.  Through the SAIL program our team has grown and learned together while developing focus around a few key goals.   The SAIL process has changed the way we do business by improving communication, decision-making, and accountability and developing coherence throughout the District. 
- Brian Misfeldt, Superintendent, School District of Bloomer 

The Tomah School District has benefited significantly from our administrative team's participation in the SAIL Academy.  We have changed our practices and discussions thanks to the strategies and ideas shared through SAIL.  The importance of focusing our efforts, the Pareto Principle, the value of clearly articulating expectations through learning frameworks, and the significance of monitoring our progress have been highly transformational for our administrative team.  Our team performance has improved and I am confident this work will lead to improved teacher and student achievement as well.
- Cindy Zahrte, Superintendent, Tomah Area School District

SAIL helps us build not only our leadership team's capacity but just as important, our staff's capacity in understanding and implementing an adult learning framework, which is necessary to move the needle for improved student achievement outcomes.   This process has become the way we do business and drives our professional development throughout the year.  In addition, the ability to have a coach who checks in monthly with us has been very beneficial providing focus, perspective, insight, as well as challenging ideas when appropriate.  We recommend any school or district who wants to make serious efforts to grow in practice and increase student achievement, to consider joining the next cohort.
- Ron Saari, Superintendent, Potosi School District

Participating in SAIL over the past two years has helped to create greater cohesion among our leadership team, as we have been dedicated to growing and learning together.  Through the support of our coach and trust in the SAIL process, our team has been able to identify and stay focused on a few strategic goals.  These goals have remained our focus and have helped us answer instructional, programming, and professional development questions to ensure the greatest impact on our staff and students.  Because of our participation in SAIL, and our team’s commitment, we have made great strides and are farther along in our continuous improvement efforts.  
- Connie Zinnen, Assistant Superintendent, Burlington Area School District

Our work through the SAIL journey has transformed our entire school district and the way we think about continuous improvement. Our actions are more closely aligned to our few goals than they ever have been. Not only do the SAIL coaches have a clear vision of what work impacts student learning, but they are also very skilled at facilitating growth within each leadership team so that these efforts are shared by all. We believe so much in the work that we have continued to work with the SAIL leadership team even after our initial two years concluded.

Impact on staff and student learning

  • We have witnessed a 66% decrease in the number of middle and high school students that received a failing grade during the first quarter of 2015-16 when compared with our first quarter grades in 2018-19.  
  • Our elementary school's state report card moved from meeting expectations to exceeding expectations over the course of the last four years. 
  • In an end of the 2017-18 year survey, 89% of PK-12 teachers felt the SAIL work we were engaged in had a direct and positive impact on improved student learning.  

I can say with 100% certainty that we would not have made the strides that we have made along our continuous journey had it not been for the SAIL Academy and staff.  I would tell any school district that’s interested and serious about continuous improvement that this is a resource that they really look strongly upon.
- Ryan Nelson, District Administrator, Augusta Area School District

School-level Administrators 

The SAIL process has been informational for our organization and my school.  As an assistant principal, I was able to participate with our Administrative Leadership Team and watch our group become a cohesive unit, limiting our distractions and focusing our goals.  This has led to the growth of our district and created systems that have given us direction. As a principal, I was able to bring a group of teachers from around the district and watch the growth of our staff and see them become true teacher leaders! I would highly suggest SAIL to any school organization that is committed to continuous improvement and growth.
- Mike Lewandowski, Principal, St. Francis High School

SAIL has allowed our team to work through the necessary, research-driven steps to become a coherent, cohesive group. The activities, paired with our individual coaching sessions, have assisted our team in staying on track, accountable to meeting goals and becoming a meaningful force. With SAIL and its processes, our team is measuring our relative effect and talking the same talk.
- Amy Dahms, Principal, Antigo Middle School

As a member of a team entrusted with providing instructional leadership for staff and students, I was often overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. SAIL was exactly what we needed at just the right time. Dr. Joe Schroeder and his colleagues have provided a results-focused model with high-level support that has better enabled our district to concentrate on key areas of need. We have worked toward accomplishing specific goals while resisting the temptation to move from one initiative to another. I can't say enough about how our participation in SAIL has helped us move in a direction with greater clarity than ever before.
- Hugh Gaston, Wisconsin Dells HS Principal

SAIL provided our schools leadership team quality uninterrupted time to identify a clear professional development focus.  Our biggest takeaway was that it is not the QUANTITY of initiatives a school has for improving student learning, it is the QUALITY of that initiative. The collaborative sharing with other teams along with coaching from the SAIL staff helped our school develop a Theory of Action supported by 100-Day cycles of continuous improvement.  By developing skills within our area of focus we have been able to make gains in literacy achievement for our students.
- Eric Burling, Principal, Burlington High School

 I definitely would recommend the SAIL Academy to all education leaders and including teacher leaders.  SAIL has been the difference for me in talking about how we do things to actually being able to put into action what we are doing and why we are doing it and how we are going to get there together. It is the first time—with the work that SAIL has done for us—that I feel we collectively understand why we together are moving forward for our kids.
-Jeanne Koepke, Principal, McDill Elementary School,  Stevens Point Area Public School District

SAIL has been the most unifying experience I have had as an administrator with teaching staff.  With the many school initiatives and the fast paced change in education, the structure of SAIL has united our staff toward a common goal.  Our coaching sessions during the school year have caused us to reflect and suggestions offered have improved our school improvement process.  The SAIL process is now embedded into our school culture and has been transformative.
- Ron Rasmussen, Lincoln High School Principal, Wisconsin Rapids School District

 SAIL has been great for our district!  This process gave us the tools to examine and focus our efforts into meaningful action steps that are producing results!
- Carrie Deiter, Principal, Brillion Elementary School   

SAIL has been a great way for Waukesha to set up a framework and put systems into place. We have moved from problem identification to implementation of a 100-day plan that is lived and consistent throughout the district. The Theory of Action drives our work and articulates where we are going. The SAIL process has walked us through and given us the time to set up this framework and keep it consistent and moving forward. The result has been defined expectations and direction, which aligns our work. I highly recommend the process for any district.
- Mary Garcia-Valez, Principal, Banting School, Waukesha 

One of the greatest challenges we faced as an administrative team has been narrowing the areas we wanted our district to improve upon.  Selecting those that have the most meaning, our staff can rally around, and those that have the greatest impact.  SAIL provided us the framework, guidance, and time to develop coherence to truly find our focus, but more importantly gave us the consistent and steady guidance ensuring we remained true to our goals.  Our SAIL coaches serve as guides to only not stretch your thinking, but help you to make sure we as a group are following our focus with fidelity.  In my 9th year in my current district, as an admin team we have never felt in a better place as a team and moving our district forward with meaningful focus resulting in a marked positive impact on professional and student learning.  
- Steve Buss, Principal, Tomah Middle School

Initially, I, along with other school district administration, participated in the SAIL process as a district level team a few years ago. We benefitted from the process and wanted to take it the next level.  Each one of our schools elected to bring back our building leadership team so that we could create a more collaborative leadership environment within our schools.  These past two years we have built capacity in our teachers that allows them to know "the why," to identify "the what," and then map out "the how in a systemic way to reach our school's vision.
- Jon Sprehn, Principal, Humke Elementary School, Nekoosa

In the last few years as our district has grown, our leadership team has as well.  The SAIL Academy has helped us develop as leaders and become more focused and cohesive as a leadership team.  With a shared understanding and focus, distributed leadership, and ongoing coaching and support from AWSA, we are focused on improving student achievement, and we hold ourselves accountable by creating 100-day plans.  I have been an administrator in our district for 17 years, and I have never felt stronger about our purpose and direction.  Our work through SAIL has also helped us create a framework for both improving student achievement and professional development.
- Chad Steinmetz, Principal, Bloomer High School

I have had the opportunity to experience two cohorts of the School Administrators Institute for Transformational  Leadership (SAIL).  Participation in SAIL allowed me to understand that the best way to improve student learning and school culture it is not the quantity of initiatives a school undertakes, rather it is more important to identify and focus on just a few high-impact quality initiatives.  In cohort 3 our school’s leadership team utilized SAIL to identify and focus our efforts on improving our school’s literacy practices.  Currently as members of cohort 5, our district leadership team is focused onproviding universal access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students with clearly articulated learning goals. Through the SAIL process, our cohorts were able to focus on quality implementation of a theory of action through 100-day cycles of continuous improvement.  Coaching support from the SAIL staff helped focus our direction, accountability, and the collaborative culture that is needed to ensure coherence in our plans for improvement.  As a building leader, I highly recommend enrolling in an upcoming cohort.
- Eric Burling, Principal, Burlington High School