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MERC Summer Institute  


Marzano High Reliability Schools

MERC Summer Institute


The MERC Summer Institute is an intensive three-day professional experience focused on developing high-reliability schools in Mississippi.  A high-reliability school monitors the effectiveness of critical factors within the system and immediately takes action to contain the negative effects of any errors that occur. High-reliability schools have several characteristics in common that include clear, transparent goals, real-time, understandable, comprehensive data systems, collaborative environments, flexibility, formalized operating procedures, a focus on best practices and expertise, rigorous teacher performance evaluation, and clean, well-functioning campuses.


The MERC Summer Institute is designed for leadership teams of three or more professionals from schools. Each team is to be made up of a principal, at least one assistant principal, and a teacher leader.


The purpose of the MERC Summer Institute is to develop and support a cadre of school-based leaders dedicated to and skilled at developing and leading high-reliability schools in local communities.  



Keynote Speakers 

Dr. Robert Marzano

Marzano Research

Dr. Robert Marzano is the cofounder and CEO of Marzano Research in Denver, Colorado. Throughout his forty years in the field of education, he has become a speaker, trainer, and author of more than thirty books and 150 articles on topics such as instruction, assessment, writing and implementing standards, cognition, effective leadership, and school intervention. His books include The Art and Science of Teaching, Leaders of Learning, On Excellence in Teaching, Effective Supervision, the Classroom Strategies series, Using Common Core Standards to Enhance Classroom Instruction and Assessment, Vocabulary for the Common Core, and Teacher Evaluation That Makes a Difference. His practical translations of the most current research and theory into classroom strategies are known internationally and are widely practiced by both teachers and school leaders. He received a bachelor’s degree from Iona College in New York, a master’s degree from Seattle University, and a doctorate from the University of Washington.


About Marzano Research LLC.

Marzano Research is a joint venture between Solution Tree and Dr. Robert J. Marzano. Marzano Research combines Dr. Marzano’s forty years of educational research with continuous action research in all major areas of schooling in order to provide effective and accessible instructional strategies, leadership strategies, and classroom assessment strategies that are always at the forefront of best practice. By providing such an all-inclusive research-into-practice resource center, Marzano Research provides teachers and school leaders with the tools they need to effect profound and immediate improvement in student achievement.

Dr. Lisa Delpit

Felton G. Clark Distinguished Professor of Education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Dr. Lisa Delpit is currently the Felton G. Clark Distinguished Professor of Education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A recipient of the MacArthur “genius” award and the Harvard School of Education’s award for an Outstanding Contribution to Education, she is dedicated to providing excellent education to communities both in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Delpit is the author of Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom and “Multiplication Is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children and the co-editor (with Joanne Kilgour Dowdy) of The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom, all published by The New Press. Her first book, Other People’s Children won a Critics’ Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association and Choice’s Outstanding Academic Title award and was voted one of Teacher Magazine’s “great books.” She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Facilitators and Workshops

Mike Ruyle

Marzano Research

Mike Ruyle, EdD, served as a teacher, an athletic coach, an assistant principal, and a program director in the San Francisco Bay Area and Montana for 28 years.

Leading and Lagging Indicators - This session will explore leading and lagging indicators that provide school leaders clear guidance on how to move to higher levels of achievement.


Using Survey Data to Support High Reliability Schools  - This session will demonstrate how to use the High Reliability Schools Leading Indicator Surveys to support continuous improvement in schools and districts.


Using Data to Drive Achievement - Participants will learn how to develop data protocols that support accelerated student and school achievement. 

Dr. Stephanie Harper

Dr. Stephanie Harper is a National Board Certified teacher and an enduring educator that has taught in Mississippi’s private and public school systems. A ‘tenacious educationalist’, her professional experiences in the field of education include being a Dean of Instruction, instructional coach, and teacher. She has participated in many educational transformation projects that focus on improving Mississippi’s public schools. She facilitates educational conferences sharing instructional strategies to educators across the United States.


My Students Do Not Like to Read: Strategies for Increasing Student Engagement in Literacy

As educators, there is a consensus that literacy is the core of all learning.  However, many educators are challenged with the task of how to motivate students to read.  This interactive session will provide educators with the strategies to increase student engagement and achievement in literacy.

Dr. Suzanne Thomas

Dr. Thomas, born in Nashville, TN. moved to Memphis in 1967 where she currently resides. She received a B.S. from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, an M.Ed. from the University of Memphis and both Ed.S. and Ed.D. from Union University. During her 42-year tenure with Memphis City Schools she taught Kindergarten, served as a Mathematics/Science Teacher-On-Assignment, Curriculum and Instructional Support and the Executive Director of PreK-12 Mathematics for the district. She has served on numerous curriculum, assessment and professional development committees and provided professional development and support both locally and throughout the state of TN. Under her leadership, the district scores in Mathematics improved every year in every tested grade. She retired from MCS in 2013 and is currently working as a Research Assessor at Vanderbilt University.

Accelerating Mathematics Achievement by Surrounding Students with Effective Intervention

Without fidelity of implementation, intervention is a waste of time. Join us as we share strategies and programs that provided gains in mathematics in all grades for six consecutive years. Leadership expectations, decisions and monitoring will determine your success.

Dr. Rorie Harris

Dr. Rorie Harris earned her Ph.D. in I/O Psychology from the University of Memphis in 2003. She is currently serving as HR Strategic Advisor at FedEx Services. She is the formerly the Director of Performance Management for Shelby County Schools, creating a performance management system for monitoring progress towards district priorities and shift the culture of data-driven decision-making. Prior to her work with the school system, Rorie worked at Navy Personnel Research, Studies, and Technology

Predictive Analytics: implications for K-12

We have access to tons of information about what’s happening in the instructional environment, from students and their current and past academic performance to measures of school climate and culture. However, even with the wealth of data available, district and state leaders haven’t yet made full use of the data for decisions and adjusting programmatic activities. Part of the challenge to making the leap to data driven decision-making relates to the reporting challenge – being able to access data in real time as opposed to looking at time lagged data reports. But the larger challenge comes when the access barrier is broken and data users have to interpret and act on the data that they see. Predictive models help drive data toward action.


In this session, participants will learn

•          What predictive analysis is and how it manifests in the education space

•          The different kinds of data that can be considered for predictive models

•          Available tools and methods for completing predictive models

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