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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Policy Simulation and Gaps in Whole Child Supports

February 27, 2017
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Kellogg Center, MSU

During the first half of this session Fellows will participate in a policy simulation and debriefing discussion on the Balancing Voices framework. The policy-oriented discussion will ask Fellows to consider: “How does use of the Balancing Voices framework affect perceptions of the legitimacy of a decision-making process, others in the process, and the outcome compared to use of conventional rules?” The second half of the session will be dedicated to the cohort’s first learning team session and will build on the theme of Equity and Opportunity Gaps by examining Health and Nutrition: Gaps in Whole Child Supports.

Session Resources

Dr. Ken Frank is an MSU Foundation Professor of sociometrics and one of the leading experts on social network theory. He holds professional appointments in Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education in the College of Education as well as in Fisheries and Wildlife, and in Sociology. His interests include the study of schools as organizations, how teachers influence one another to affect classroom practices and school decision-making, social networks analysis, and the social context of learning. His publications include new quantitative methods for representing relations among teachers and how those relations affect teachers’ orientations to teaching, and ways in which teachers generate social capital from their relationships. Ken received his Ph.D. in Measurement, Evaluation and Statistical Analysis from the School of Education at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Kaitlin T. Torphy is the developer and lead of the Teachers in Social Media Project in Michigan State University’s College of Education. She has expertise in teachers’ engagement across virtual platforms, teachers’ physical and virtual social networks, and education policy reform. Kaitlin has published work on charter school impacts (Zimmer, Gill, Attridge, & Obenauf, 2014), curricular reform (Obenauf, 2014), and presented work regarding teachers’ engagement within social media. Kaitlin’s other work examines diffusion of sustainable practices across social networks within The Nature Conservancy (Reddy, Torphy, Liu, Chen, & Frank, 2016). She holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy with a specialization in the Economics of Education, and is a former Chicago Public Schools teacher and Teach for America alumni. (EPFP 2015-16)

Dr. John Lane is an experienced a teacher, instructional coach, professional development trainer, and site administrator. He earned a dual Ph.D. in Educational Policy and in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education at Michigan State University. John has served on the Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators Research Team that investigated how learning teams formed and interacted and how teachers translated the learning experiences associated with their involvement in the FAME program into improved instructional practice. Most notably, John has extensive experience in survey construction and administration, qualitative interviewing, quantitative social network analysis, and measurement of classroom instructional quality. John has earned an Albert Shanker Institute Research Grant and he was a finalist for the National Academy of Education Spencer Dissertation Grant and the American Educational Research Association Division L Outstanding Dissertation Award. (EPFP 2015-16)

Learning Team Members: Melanie Brummeler, Lynn Cavett, Jon Laing, Stacy Sipes, Chris Torres


Session Description:
Opportunity Gaps are the unequal or inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities—while achievement gap refers to outputs—the unequal or inequitable distribution of educational results and benefits. While learning gaps refer to relative performance of individual student, for example, the disparity between what a student has actually learned and what students are expected to learn at a particular age or grade level. Closing the GAP requires more than just an introduction of a new curriculum, new buzzwords, or the reinvention of old concepts. It requires commitment of community, educators, and families that recognize that closing the Gap comes as price, that we all should be willing to pay. Today we will introduce you to a group of professionals that are committed to closing the Gap.


Session Outline:
1. The Opportunity Gap:
Chris Torres

Kellen E. Brandon, Author/Publisher
Brandon Publishing, LLC,

Kellen E. Brandon is the owner of Brandon Publishing, LLC grew up in Flint, Michigan and played division 1 sports with aspirations of a career as a professional athlete. Once that dream was deferred, he was forced to look himself in the mirror and find his inner optimism. Mr. Brandon is now dedicated to helping others also find their inner optimism, apply it, and live it out on a daily basis. Mr. Brandon has created several successful programs and a business model designed to help others. His full service publishing company is dedicated to helping others achieve their dreams through writing. Mr. Brandon’s youth and adult programming include: BP Young Authors, Create Program, I Am Drew, BP School Takeover, and the Edward Brandon Book Scholarship.


Dr. Terah Venzant Chambers, Associate Professor
Michigan State University
Department of Educational Administration
Ph.D., University of Illinois

(EPFP 2013-14)

Dr. Terah Venzant Chambers is an associate professor of K-12 educational administration. She teaches courses that focus on achievement and opportunity gaps and equity in education. Her research interests include post-Brown K-12 education policy and urban education leadership. Specifically, she is interested in the ways within-school segregative policies influence African American students’ academic achievement and school engagement, as well as the price of school success for high-achieving students of color (racial opportunity cost).

Kim Kovalchick, Supervisor
Coordinated School Health and Safety Programs Unit
Michigan Department of Education
(EPFP 2013-14)

Kim Kovalchick is the Supervisor for the Coordinated School Health and Safety Programs Unit, at the Michigan Department of Education. Kim’s unit provides leadership, guidance and support to local and intermediate school districts in the state of Michigan, on comprehensive school health and safety issues regarding the Whole Child, Whole School and Whole Community.

Jody Taratuta, General Manager
Schools Division
Lansing School District

Jody Taratuta is currently the General Manager for SodexoMagic Food Service in the Lansing School District. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Michigan State University and over 14 years experience in student nutrition. Jody has extensive experience implementing new menus, child nutrition programs, USDA requirements and policies on the local level.


Lorraine Thoreson, Coordinator
Michigan Department of Education
21st Century Community Learning Centers
(EPFP 2005-06)

Lorraine Thoreson works at the Michigan Department of Education with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (out-of-school time) programs. She has vast knowledge and experience working with underserved youth. She is an out-of-school time champion who also can provide insights on licensing, policies, after school snacks and suppers, wrap around services, and opportunity gaps for Michigan’s youth overall.

3. Development of Policy for Closing the Gaps - Melanie Brummeler, Lynn Cavett, Jon Laing, Stacy Sipes, and Chris Torres