As principal of Brougham Elementary School in Olathe, Stephanie Conklin's first priority is serving as an instructional leader to her teachers. A former fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, Conklin knows that purposeful professional development for teachers has a direct effect on student growth.
Brougham Elementary's students are thriving under Conklin's care. In the spring of 2016, the school's third- through fifth-graders beat both district and state averages in reading and math, scoring at least five points higher than the district average and six to 10 points higher than the state average. The school exceeded projected growth scores in all grades and consistently ranks in the top five of the district's 35 elementary schools.
Conklin takes a “more is better” approach to data. When she wanted additional information about student performance in math, Conklin volunteered Brougham Elementary as a pilot school for the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments. After seeing the first round of data, she decided to test a new guided math approach, similar to one that had boosted student performance in reading. Brougham now offers multiple schoolwide math and reading programs, which are often celebrated with all-school parties and assemblies.
Colleagues describe Conklin as “extremely progressive” and applaud her willingness to take risks when it comes to implementing instructional strategies. Conklin has worked with her staff to create a shared vision for student excellence and develop highly effective Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that work to meet the diverse needs of all students. Each grade level posts weekly and monthly goals plus a long-range plan, all focused on integration and targeted standards.
Easygoing and approachable, Conklin has earned the community’s respect for guiding Brougham, a high-performing school for many years, to even higher levels of achievement. She strives to visit every classroom every day, knows every student by name and has created an environment where students want to be at school to learn, which shows in the school’s well-above-average attendance. Committed to embedding parents into the school, Conklin has frequent meetings and “coffee with the principal” events and has created a strong parent-teacher organization that supports educational efforts as well as fun. Brougham parents read, tutor and help teachers in the classroom daily.
A leader within the district, Conklin serves as one of four principals on the district’s Elementary Professional Development Planning Committee; meets monthly with the superintendent and a small group of district principals to problem-solve and plan at the district level; and mentors new principals in the district. She advocates for students both inside the district and statewide and is a strong supporter of universal access to no-cost preschool and full-day kindergarten.
Conklin holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fort Hays State University and a master’s degree in education, educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Kansas.
Press release: Analyze This: Data-Driven Olathe Elementary School Principal Receives 2016-17 Milken Educator Award, $25,000 Cash Prize
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