Afton Partners’ Scott Milam and Katie Morrison-Reed facilitated a conversation with leading practitioners from school districts across the country on best practices to implementing and sustaining innovative personalized learning models at iNACOL’s 2015 Blended and Online Learning Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

Through Afton’s work with school districts from coast-to-coast, the team recognized unique innovations happening with personalized learning and saw a critical need to share these practices with other school districts looking to spur innovation or build upon existing pilot programs for sustainability. iNACOL’s symposium provided a perfect opportunity to bring experts together and host a panel completely dedicated to school districts’ needs and to share best practices and challenges with new innovative learning models.

Throughout the interactive discussion, our experts helped attendees understand the role that central office support functions play in successfully implementing and scaling innovative learning models. Attendees gained valuable insights from district leaders on supportive financial policies and business processes that have enabled innovation in their districts. Finally, attendees left with an understanding of the latest findings on the cost of implementing and scaling personalized learning and how innovative districts have reallocated resources to support sustainable school models.

So, what are some of the key takeaways from our leading district practitioners?

“Prioritize the tools and resources that teachers and students need. Not every need can be met with finite resources.”Barton Dassinger, Principal, Cesar Chavez Multicultural Elementary School, Chicago Public Schools in Chicago, Illinois (@4747Chavez)

“We try to capture everything we do to build a comprehensive understanding of how the pilot schools are doing.”Peter Piccolo, Executive Director, Innovation and Strategy, Denver Public Schools in Denver, Colorado (@PeterPiccolo)

“Central office’s role has been to support schools to act and think differently.”Kristian Sorensen, Program Manager, Personalized Learning, Riverside Unified Public Schools, Riverside, California (@RUSDSorensen)

“Federal funds might be the toughest from a compliance standpoint, however there are not as many barriers as you may think once you dig in.”Aaryn Schmuhl, Asst. Superintendent for Learning and Leadership, Henry County Public Schools in McDonough, Georgia (@aschmuhl)

“PD is continuous and you need different types of PD every couple of years to get fresh thinking.”Keith Look, Superintendent, Danville Public Schools in Danville, Kentucky (@_kflook)

“It was critical for us to let the finance department know we were doing something different. Bring them in to see the day to day of your work.”Judy Beard, Principal, Whittemore Park Middle School, Horry County Public Schools in Conway, South Carolina (@jbeardsc)

As school districts continue to innovate around personalized learning, it is critical for us to share the successes and challenges in order to successfully reach more students with new opportunities to learn. Are you doing something innovative in your district that you’d like to share? Please add it to the comments section, so others can learn from you too.