School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership (SAIL) 

SAIL logo

A common refrain of Wisconsin educators is:  “We are working harder than ever.  So why are we not seeing an impact on student learning proportional to our effort?  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 now open and closes on March 15, 2024 (or sooner, if seats are full) for the twelfth cohort of the SAIL Academy, which will launch in June. Please click here to complete your team application and then email your team application to Kathy. 

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 from over a decade 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 2024-25 School year, SAIL will have two cohorts open:

  • The Twelfth Cohort (which will begin in June 2024) will launch its first year in SAIL.
  • The Eleventh Cohort (which began in June 2023) will move into its second year of SAIL.

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

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

Year One 

  • June 17-19, 2024
    Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells
    Booking Link
    Room Block: “AWSA 2024 SAIL Program”
    $204/room/night at Kalahari
    Kalahari block will expire 5/17/24
    (877) 254-5466

  • November 19, 2024
    Wilderness Resort
    45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells
    800-867-9453
    $98
    Block expires: 10/19/24
    Leader #: A46084

  • March 12, 2025
    Wilderness Resort
    45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells
    800-867-9453
    $98
    Block expires 2/8/25
    Leader #: A46097

Year One 

  • June 19-21, 2023
    Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells

  • November 14, 2023
    Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells

  • March 4, 2024
    Wilderness Resort
    45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells
    800-867-9453
    $98.00
    Block expires: 10/14/23
    Leader #: 994837

 Year Two 

  • June 16-18, 2025
    Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells

  • November 2025 Date/Venue TBD

  • March 2026 Date/Venue TBD

 Year Two 

  • June 17-19, 2024
    Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells
    Booking Link
    Room Block: “AWSA 2024 SAIL Program”
    $204/room/night at Kalahari
    Kalahari block will expire on 5/17/24
    (877) 254-5466

  • November 19, 2024
    Wilderness Resort
    45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells
    800-867-9453
    $98
    Block expires: 10/19/24
    Leader #: A46084

  • March 12, 2025
    Wilderness Resort
    45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells
    800-867-9453
    $98
    Room block expires 2/8/25
    Leader #: A46097

 

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 2024. 
  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 duration of the program, but perhaps tapering a bit in frequency in Year Two, as needed by the team.
  4. Payment of $699 per person/per year for Year One participation in this two-year program. 

What WI Participants are Saying About SAIL 

District-Level Leaders

“Elmbrook spent years following the various continuous improvement models that are well known. SAIL helped us with shorter cycles of improvement all the way to the teacher level. It is the first time we have true alignment from the boardroom to the classroom. It has had a significant impact on our organization.”
Dr. Mark Hansen
Superintendent
Elmbrook Schools

“Since the 2019-20 academic year, the School District of Janesville has actively engaged in the AWSA/WASDA SAIL Academy. The district participation has greatly impacted our district and K-12 building administrators. The SAIL Academy has equipped our leaders with a clear roadmap for identifying school goals by emphasizing data-driven decisions through a root cause analysis process. The SAIL process and the 100-Day plan have become the specific action steps in our District and School Improvement Plans. The AWSA SAIL coaches, including Joe and Jodi, have been instrumental for our district leadership in supporting our K-12 schools' student growth and achievement. The strategic approach has established consistent and coherent goals across the district and individual buildings, fostering a unified vision for educational goals and facilitating a collaborative, informed decision-making process among our school and district leaders.”
Dr. Allison DeGraaf
Director of Learning and Innovation
School District of Janesville

“The SAIL Academy process has been nothing short of transformative for our school. It served as a beacon, fostering a newfound cohesion among staff. Through its systematic approach, our focus sharpened like never before, zeroing in on student achievement as our central goal. The process not only streamlined our efforts but also ignited a collective passion for nurturing every student's success. SAIL Academy's impact continues to resonate, shaping a more unified, student-centric environment within our school community.”
Brett Stousland
Superintendent
Gibraltar School District

“While our annual data examination and goal-setting process has served our district well, we value continuous improvement and were looking for a way to take our process to the next level. We took the leap and enrolled our entire district administrative team in SAIL Cohort 11. The SAIL process is rigorous and engaging, and has allowed us to collectively examine our system through the Coherence Framework. Although we are just at the beginning of our second cycle, our team has expressed a greater sense of focus, collaboration, and distributive leadership across our 4K-12 system. Joining SAIL has been a very positive step in our district’s journey toward further coherence that will benefit our students.”
Dr. Leslie Bergstrom
Superintendent
Oregon School District

“My district is just in our first year with the SAIL Academy and already it's proving to be a real game changer. Through the SAIL methods, processes, and coaching, MAPS has been able to identify our true and most pressing issues, understand the causes behind those things, and develop focused, timely and shared action plans to address those issues in a manner that is always present in our day-to-day work. In addition, the SAIL Academy has brought our administrative team together in the most positive of ways, has increased support and awareness from our board, and has helped everyone in our district understand and support where we are going. SAIL districts do not produce products or plans that simply sit on a shelf – they produce living plans that drive the daily work of everyone in the organization. I highly recommend the SAIL Academy to all Wisconsin school districts.”
Shannon Murray
Superintendent
Merrill Area School District

“We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in SAIL. The SAIL program design created the conditions for us to develop coherent systems aligned to our district mission and our universal goals for collaboration and disciplinary literacy. The coherence progression components and accompanying indicators of success supported the development of actionable goals, as did the 100-day model for change management. The implementation of an adult learner framework contributes to our regular review of educator practices and student outcomes. The SAIL program supports best practice coherence design opportunities for teams that are ready to lead for transformational change.”
Karyn Stocks Glover
Director of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation
Verona Area School District

"Participating in the SAIL Academy has been an invaluable collaborative leadership development experience for the School District of Jefferson. As the District Administrator, I proudly report that all building principals participated with the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and the Director of Pupil Services. The hands-on, experiential learning approach has equipped us with new skills and perspectives that we have already implemented in our roles. To be sure, SAIL is helping us all to lead with coherence and shape school culture. I enthusiastically recommend the program to other leaders looking to enhance their capabilities, whether at the district or building level."
Dr. Charles Urness
District Administrator
School District of Jefferson

“We have seen tremendous value after just one cycle of participation in the SAIL Academy. The strategies, resources, and collaboration opportunities that SAIL provides have supported a sharpened focus, increased clarity of targeted action, and positive accountability toward rigorous and well-articulated outcomes. We look forward to our continued work with the SAIL Academy.”
Stephanie Calarco
Director of Continuous Improvement
Oconomowoc Area School District

“I highly recommend educational leaders consider becoming members of the AWSA SAIL professional community. Three years ago, the School District of Janesville embarked on our SAIL journey to bolster school improvement efforts in our secondary schools. In response to constructive feedback from our principals, we formulated a comprehensive plan to involve our director team and all elementary schools in SAIL, recognizing its transformative impact. The SAIL conference days and the ensuing 100-day planning process have provided clarity for our staff and contributed to improved student outcomes, with invaluable feedback and coaching from AWSA SAIL leaders. The AWSA's SAIL Academy played a pivotal role during the onboarding of our new superintendent last year, fostering cohesion among our director team and facilitating shared professional learning. Our district's active participation in SAIL significantly enhances our team's capacity to partake in a process directly influencing student learning for years to come.”
Chris Medenwaldt
Director of Secondary Education
School District of Janesville

“When I joined the district, we did not yet have a strategic plan and we were a very new administrative team. I signed our team up for SAIL in the hopes that the support would help us identify goals and priorities for the district as well as processes to monitor progress. The experience has provided all of this and much more. The support from this academy has enabled us to articulate a strong vision and transparent plan for our staff members, caregivers and the school board. We have changed practices and structures that have led to more efficient and focused meetings and professional development. The structure and focus has also allowed us to grow closer as a group and build trust as a team.”
Alyson Weiss
Superintendent
Glendale-River Hills School District

“The SAIL process has offered our district an opportunity for a unitive process towards continuous improvement. While we have always strived for cohesion, the internal and external accountability the SAIL structure offers, buoyed by the facilitation team’s emphasis on clarity of learning goals is starting to transform our whole system’s improvement habits. Our participation in SAIL has led to change we can see and study in the precision of our teaching and learning strategies, and has increased our shared delight in doing so!”
Dr. Kate Ahlgren
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Stoughton Area School District

“We are in the first year of our SAIL experience and it has been amazing. The SAIL process has provided us with the necessary time and support to identify specific goals for our district's growth and has helped us to collectively focus our staff's efforts in working towards achieving those goals. In education, we rarely have the time to thoughtfully review data, analyze it with colleagues, and create a comprehensive plan to respond to it. The SAIL Academy gave us this opportunity, along with guidance and support, and it has definitely made an impact on how we operate.”
Paul Franzwa
District Administrator / High School Principal
Independence School District

“The AWSA School Administrators Institute for Transformational Leadership (SAIL) training has been a transformative experience for the School District of Elmbrook. As the Assistant Superintendent, I can attest to the program's effectiveness in re-igniting our already robust continuous improvement process. The SAIL training facilitated the creation of district-based teams, bringing together administrators and teacher leaders to collaboratively develop 100-day plans. These plans meticulously outlined evidence-based practices that were strategically aligned with a thorough root cause analysis of data. The result was a targeted approach to addressing academic challenges, with a clear focus on elevating student outcomes. The SAIL training has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in enhancing our educational practices and fostering a culture of continuous improvement in Elmbrook.”
Dr. Tanya Fredrich
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
Elmbrook Schools
 

School-Based Leaders

“The continuous improvement process facilitated through SAIL was transformational for our school community. All schools adopt an improvement framework with the goal to grow the learning outcomes of their students. The SAIL framework and coaching model inspires all schools to commit to a rigorous improvement process (including coaching) that creates greater focus and coherence for your school community. We are so proud of our SAIL team and our teaching staff for their commitment to building and defining our system of literacy so that all students grow in their capacity and confidence to be stronger readers, writers, learners and leaders. I strongly recommend all schools to join the SAIL journey as you seek inspirational and transformational goals and outcomes for your students, staff and community!”
Andy Farley
Principal, Brookfield East High School
Elmbrook Schools

 

"Participating in the SAIL process has been a transformative experience for our team, elevating the learning culture within our school. The program's tailored learning, expert coaching, and dedicated planning time have empowered us to make substantial improvements in our building. What sets SAIL apart is its focus on sustainable change, providing us with practical tools and instilling a mindset of continuous improvement. The organizational and instructional shifts we've implemented are part of a strategic, long-term, and sustainable process that will benefit our students for years to come. SAIL is not just a resource; it's a catalyst for positive, lasting change."
Tricia Rodey
Principal, Sauk Prairie Middle School
Sauk Prairie School District

 

“After collaborating with our SAIL coach and members of SAIL teams across the state for the past two years, we have gained valuable insights into the discipline it takes to make and sustain impactful changes for our students. Specifically, our partnership with SAIL has provided an intentional focus on measuring our adult practices which help us provide the best possible learning outcomes for our students. Our school team benefits from the structured reflection and the short cycle continuous improvement planning we engage in each and every time we come to SAIL. We are beginning to transform the culture at our school by deploying and monitoring our 100-Day Plans. Whether you are beginning your improvement journey, or well on your way, your team, your school, and most importantly, your students will be the beneficiaries!”
Ron Rivard
Principal / Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Randall Consolidated School District J1

 

“Our team's SAIL experience has been truly transformative for our school. The AWSA facilitators led us step-by-step through a process of reviewing our data in a systematic way that helped us identify the specific areas of focus that would yield the biggest changes for our school. From there, the trainers guided us as we created a 100-day action plan that we could implement immediately upon our return to school. If you are looking for a framework and support for taking your school or district to the next level, I would highly recommend the SAIL Academy!”
Dr. Jessica Grandt
Principal, Harrison Elementary School
School District of Janesville

 

"Participating in the SAIL Academy has been a transformative experience for our team at Swanson. Before SAIL, we were primarily focused on climate, but SAIL has shifted our perspective to a deeper understanding of our culture. This shift has had a tangible impact: our school report card moved from 'exceeds expectations' to 'significantly exceeds expectations' while participating in the Academy. Furthermore, SAIL has been instrumental in developing our team into a coalition of strong, cohesive leaders. It has empowered us to break down barriers, foster vulnerability, and shift our PLCs to be more data-centric. Most importantly, SAIL has guided us out of the repetitive 'Plan-Do' cycle, enabling us to engage in the more reflective and impactful 'Study-Act' components of continuous improvement. I highly recommend the SAIL Academy to any educational team looking to make significant leadership and academic achievement strides."
Martin Castro
Principal, Swanson Elementary School
Elmbrook Schools

 

“The SAIL Academy has been an invaluable resource for our district team, providing guidance in identifying priority areas of improvement. The structured approach of the 100-day plan not only kept us focused but also served as a catalyst for transformative organizational change. Thanks to the strategies and targeted feedback by the SAIL Coach, our district has experienced a remarkable positive shift in executing our goals. This collaboration has undoubtedly been a game-changer, and we look forward to our continued work with the SAIL Academy.”
Trisha Detert
Principal, Merrill High School
Merrill Area School District

 

"SAIL has proven indispensable in keeping me focused on continuous improvement goals amidst competing priorities, such as meetings, student incidents, and parent calls. The milepost process simplifies goal refinement and alignment, providing a streamlined and easy-to-follow framework. Setting due dates during this process ensures task completion, preventing important actions from being sidelined by competing demands."
Bob Johnson
Principal, Sandhill Elementary School
Stoughton Area School District

 

“The SAIL Academy has been invaluable in helping our school develop clear goals and action steps that are grounded in our data story. The structure of the academy provides a process for data analysis and reflection that helps guide the team in intentional planning. Participation in this academy has elevated teacher leadership, resulting in increased commitment to the strategies deployed. We have seen significant increases in student achievement since starting on this journey, and plan to continue using this continuous improvement process when we have completed the 2-year academy.”
Kelly Szesterniak
Principal, Pilgrim Park Middle School
Elmbrook Schools

 

“Currently in our second year of SAIL, Greendale High School and our leadership team have found the program to be the most worthwhile professional development in which we are involved. Not only does SAIL immerse the team in researched, high-leverage practices, it provides real examples for successful implementation and ongoing accountability that we can fit to our building and our staff. As a principal, I know that three times per year, I get to lead my building's representative SAIL leadership team through an engaging, rigorous process to create a focused 100-day plan that makes the best use of our high school's scarce collaboration time to really affect student learning.”
Steve Lodes
Principal, Greendale High School
Greendale School District

 

“SAIL has given our District Guiding Coalition the space to learn, grow, and lead with coherence. The structure and support of SAIL reinforces our commitment to our staff of a less-is-more approach. This singular targeted focus allows us to go deeper within our continuous improvement plan. We can always count on our SAIL coach to provide insight and ask the right questions. Most importantly, our teacher leaders are building their capacity as district leaders and they play an integral role in our district goals. By far, the SAIL process has been the driving force behind our success.”
Rachel Quill Jen Shattuck
Principal, Richfield MS Principal, Friess Lake ES
Holy Hill Area School District Holy Hill Area School District

 

“The SAIL Academy process has been transformational for Wisconsin Hills Middle School. In addition to promoting a culture of teacher leadership through the formation of our SAIL team, the shorter, 100-day cycles and concurrent plans ground in data have resulted in the development of several measurable goals, all connecting to our Theory of Action. This process has also introduced for us a culture of accountability (how do we know that we're doing what we say we're going to be doing?) and many opportunities to celebrate success with our staff and students.”
Matt Schroeder
Principal, Wisconsin Hills Middle School
Elmbrook Schools

 

“The SAIL process has helped our team gain perspective on our school’s most significant learning needs and deepen our discussions in identifying possible root causes to narrow our focus and set goals on what’s most important to close the achievement gap for our students. While we are not strangers to setting goals, by utilizing the detailed framework provided, we developed a Theory of Action and the 100-Day Plan that have helped bring clarity to our team and drive our “why” by creating clear action steps with supporting evidence. More importantly, the process holds us accountable to ensure that we are following the plan in order to increase student achievement. Because of SAIL, we are deepening adult learning and collaboration to shift our practices, build capacity, and ultimately create a coherent culture within our school. We’ve felt fully supported along our journey thanks to the AWSA SAIL team, as well as our district’s internal coaches.”
Sarah Brehm
Principal, Jackson Elementary School
School District of Janesville

 

“The SAIL “process” or continuous improvement focus has allowed Dixon Elementary to focus on the truly important and impactful behaviors for both students and staff! We have created a shared vision, dug deep into our school culture and improved student outcomes in less than a year. The ability for our school to drive our own improvement as compared to District initiatives has been the game changer!”
Luke Sadowski
Principal, Dixon Elementary School
Elmbrook Schools

 

“Being part of a district team at SAIL has been an incredible journey defined by unity and a shared vision. Our collective ability to stay focused on the right work has been instrumental in driving progress and fostering a collaborative environment. Together, we've navigated challenges, leveraging our diverse expertise to propel us forward towards a common goal. SAIL's culture of teamwork and shared purpose has not only strengthened our collective impact but also solidified our commitment to driving positive change in our district.”
Heather Soberg
Kate Goodrich Elementary School
Merrill Area School District

 

“SAIL has allowed our team to develop a stronger connection and understanding of how we can improve student achievement. Despite the different subjects we teach and responsibilities within our school, SAIL has given us a framework to unite behind a common goal and empowered our team to become leaders in helping all students be successful within our community.”
Jason Curtis
Principal, Oconomowoc High School
Oconomowoc Area School District

 

“I am delighted to share our experience with SAIL and its impactful continuous improvement process. The focus on achieving high levels of collaboration has been instrumental in driving positive change and fostering a culture of improvement. The SAIL leadership team helped our team remain focused on key components of improvement, anchoring on a small number of strategies and associated actions. SAIL also challenged us to remain focused on monitoring our actions to have clarity as to whether or not our strategies and actions were resulting in expected outcomes. SAIL has set a benchmark for organizations aspiring to make a lasting impact through focus and a culture of continuous improvement.”
Erin King
Principal, Brookfield Elementary School
Elmbrook Schools