School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership (SAIL)

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Registration for Cohort 9 is Now Closed

COVID has placed unprecedented stress and illuminated core challenges in many school districts like never before. So how do you plan to productively and collaboratively lead through this to make things better for all over the long-term? In other words, what supports might be available for schools and districts that want to take a deep dive into a systemic approach for transforming conditions and results for students and adults alike? 

A strong option to consider is our SAIL Academy, which stands for the School Administrators' Institute for Transformational Leadership.

Registration is open through March 31, 2021, for the ninth cohort of the SAIL Academy, which will launch in June 2021.

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, 2021. 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 

For the 2021-22 School year, SAIL will have two cohorts open:

  • The Eighth Cohort (which began in June 2020) will move into its second year of SAIL.
  • The Ninth Cohort (which will begin in June 2021) will launch its first year in SAIL.

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

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

Year One 

Glacier Canyon Conference Center
Overnight rooms: Glacier Canyon Lodge
Single: State Rate
Double/Triple/Quad: $109
Leader #854422
expires 10/16/21
  • March 10, 2022
    Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells
Glacier Canyon Conference Center
Overnight rooms: Glacier Canyon Lodge

Single: State Rate
Double/Triple Quad: $109
Leader #811244
expires 2/7/22

Year One 

  • June 22-24, 2020
    Virtual Session
  • November 19, 2020
    Virtual Session
  • March 3 2021
    Virtual Session

  Year Two 

  • June 20-22, 2022
    Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells 
  • Fall Date TBD
    Location TBD
  • Late Winter Date TBD
    Location TBD

 Year Two 

  • June 21-23, 2021
  • Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells
  • November 16, 2021
    Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells
  • March 10, 2022
    Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells


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 2020. 
  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 $630 per person/per year for participation in this two-year program. 

What WI Participants are Saying About SAIL 

District-level Administrators

I strongly encourage district and site leaders to join the AWSA SAIL professional community. Sun Prairie started our SAIL journey with a third of our schools as a strategic support for our ESSA identified sites. We quickly crafted a plan to have all of our schools participate in SAIL at the request of our principals after they learned of the powerful experience our SAIL schools were having. The SAIL conference days and 100 day planning process is resulting in clarity for our staff and improved outcomes for students. The direct, honest feedback and coaching of our teams by AWSA SAIL leaders has been invaluable, too.
- Dr. Stephanie Leonard-Witte, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning, and Equity, Sun Prairie Area SD

Our administrative team's experience with SAIL has brought a focus and a clear direction to our district and its planning. The cycle process keeps teams accountable and on-track. The coaches provide tremendous support and guidance through the process and are truly committed to your team's success. We have learned so much and have pushed each other to provide clarity to a plan of action.
- Nate Perry, District Administrator, Belleville SD

AWSA's SAIL Academy has helped hold our MCPASD Leadership Team toes to the line. We joined during a time of significant transition between superintendents and a few new building leaders, so the waters have been rough for us at times. Nevertheless, the professional learning and resources have helped us strengthen our practices as a team and focus on the adult learning needed to achieve a bold learning goal for students. The major gains for us to date included delineating two adult learning frameworks--one on Anti Racist Liberatory Education and one on Literacy. We particularly appreciated SAIL’s Joe Schroeder and Tammy Gibbons for helping us chart our course and navigate toward greater outcomes for MCPASD students and staff members.
- Dr. Laura Love, Director of Secondary Education, Middleton-Cross Plains ASD

Our district took advantage of the SAIL leadership institute, mainly to build district coherence and focus inquiry on what is important.  The intentional coaching actions promote our teaching/leadership team efforts in being responsive and prepared to meet our district's needs and to build distributive leadership capacity. The institute is providing us step-by-step implementation guidance to be both learning and leading.  It is by design, not happenstance, that progress is happening in our district.
- Dr. Chanda Kulow, Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Sauk Prairie SD

SAIL Academy participation has been instrumental in aligning our district and school teams in our most important work for student success.  SAIL has made us reflect, has got us talking, and is resulting in impact. We are getting better as a system as a result.
- Jennifer Apodaca, Director of Student Support Services, Sun Prairie School District 

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

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

School-level Administrators 

SAIL has helped our team immensely in focusing the direction and identity of our school. Through the SAIL process, we have been able to lay the groundwork of who we are as a school community, refocus our roles as servant educators and always bring our work back to doing what is best for students. I would recommend SAIL for all schools, but especially for those that have a new administrative team that is looking to strengthen direction and establish an identity and uniform message for their staff and community. In working with SAIL, in a matter of months, we were able to deliver a clear message to our community about who we are and where we're going!
- Gregory Lundin, Principal, Franklin MS, Green Bay Area PSD

SAIL is exactly what our school has been looking for to guide our work at Prairie View! SAIL provided our school with the time and space to articulate coherent and specific goals for our leadership teams! Because of our work with our SAIL coach, we have made some very intentional moves that are positively impacting our students!
- Michelle Jensen, Principal, Prairie View MS, Sun Prairie Area SD

Participating in SAIL has been a starting point in messaging to our faculty how serious the leadership team is about establishing collective efficacy, having a focused direction, and taking action in our school. This academy is not about writing words on paper and hoping for change. It is truly about having clear steps for action and as well as creating a system for accountability. With the SAIL process, we have been able to adopt a system for analysis and begin our journey for discovering why we are who we are as a school and what we can do to continuously improve for ALL students.

SAIL is a systematic way of thinking and problem solving that can be applied to a variety of scenarios across a school or district. Going through this process has forever changed the way I look at, and address, problems of practice. The team on which I participate consistently comments on the quality and impact of the SAIL facilitators and activities. This experience has brought us together as a team and is significantly improving the coherence of our school. I highly recommend SAIL to any team that is looking to make a difference in their school.
- Becky Newcomer, Principal, Hamilton HS, Hamilton SD

The SAIL workshop has provided our leadership team with clarity of purpose and focused direction for our school.  After living the first 100 days, I can really see the coherence of our action steps, which, as a principal, has guided the planning for our staff meetings and PLC days. It provides accountability not just for adult learning, but also for putting that learning into practice.  I would highly recommend this process to any school or district that is ready to push toward greatness.
Kelly Petrowski, Principal, Tower Rock ES, Sauk Prairie SD

SAIL allowed our school’s guiding coalition to identify and reaffirm the root cause factors preventing our students from learning and achieving the way we know they can. Through our SAIL work, we brought our school’s vision into focus for all staff to develop a truly shared understanding of what we need to do to reach all learners, how, and why.  SAIL guided us through challenging, but necessary, conversations to plan for how we can build the instructional capacity of our staff and realize results based on intentional actions. During our first two action plans, we saw an increase in the percentage of students hitting their mid-year benchmarks for the first time in six years. In many ways, the work we took on was like “shooting arrows at a target,” but for the first time doing so without wearing a blindfold.
- Joseph Sellenheim, Principal, Grewenow ES, Kenosha USD

SAIL has provided that missing link for our team by helping us focus on agreed upon goals and implement strategies that are tightly aligned to those goals.  We continually monitor our progress, and have developed a coherent plan to improve learning outcomes for all of our students, as well as support for staff.  As a school leader, this has been a game-changer, and I highly recommend the SAIL Academy for school leaders and their teams.
- Rebecca Zahn, Principal, Patrick Marsh MS, Sun Prairie ASD

SAIL has allowed us to re-focus continually on the data-driven areas of need in our district. It is very easy to get off track, but this process hold our team accountable to the work and each other.
- Amy Dahms, Principal, Antigo Middle School

Our SAIL planning days are transforming our school improvement work. It is supporting transparency and ownership of student learning data and we are beginning to see a willingness to reflect more deeply and change teaching practices. SAIL has energized our team to develop a sustainable system, developing collective efficacy. 
- Lexi Heuvel, Principal, Northside Elementary

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 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

The SAIL Academy has given me the knowledge and resources I need to lead my team and school in work that has real impact on student learning and outcomes.  Through writing and implementing 100 Day plans we are able to focus our attention on action steps that are transforming the culture of our building and allowing us to really focus on what will improve outcomes for all students at Westside.  
- Nicolle Burke, Principal, Westside Elementary School

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   

The SAIL Academy has provided our school leadership team the opportunity to reflect upon our current systems and the barriers that impact results we want. The tools provided allowed us to develop our next 100 day plan with the steps to monitor that plan directly embedded into the work. As we head into our next 100 day cycle, this feels like our "New way of being!"   
- Deb Larson, Instructional Coach, Westside 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