School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership (SAIL)

SAIL logo

Registration has ended. Please contact AWSA for further information.

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, 2020 for the eighth cohort of the SAIL Academy, which will launch June 2020.

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, 2020. 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 Seventh Cohort (which began in 2019) will move into its second year of SAIL in 2020-21.
  • The Eighth Cohort which now has registration open. 

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

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

Year One 

·    June 22-24, 2020
This two day session has been moved online. You will receive an link in June to take you to this session. Contact Jena Sebald at [email protected] for questions.

·    Late Fall 2020 - 1 Day TBD

·    Late Winter 2021 - 1 Day TBD

 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 Two 

·   June 21-23, 2021
Kalahari Resort, WI Dells

·    Late Fall 2021 - 1 Day TBD

·    Late Winter 2022 - 1 Day TBD

Year Two 

·    June 22-24, 2020 
This two day session has been moved online. You will receive an link in June to take you to this session. Contact Jena Sebald at [email protected] for questions.

·    Late Fall 2020 - 1 Day TBD

·    Late Winter 2021 - 1 Day TBD


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 $615 per person/per year for participation in this two-year program. 

What WI Participants are Saying About SAIL 

District-level Administrators

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

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

School-level Administrators 

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