Skip to main content


How is this program different from other PD?

Unlike many PD offerings that tend to be either canned programs (think 8 step process) or focused on methods (e.g. how to plan a PBL unit), the RISE project differentiates itself in two distinct ways:

  1. The support provided to each school is highly customized to meet the specific needs, goals, and assets of that school.
  2. Before tackling innovative strategies, the program’s facilitators carefully guide participating schools through a systems analysis that addresses the cultural elements needed to implement such strategies with fidelity and sustain them over the long term.

Why is this type of program needed now?

The pandemic has taught us that students everywhere need more authentic, engaging, and relevant learning experiences that resonate with the things they care about and equip them with skills that enable them to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, students in our state and country were not consistently provided with sufficient opportunities to make meaning of their learning beyond what was needed to perform well on a test. The RISE program is an anecdote to this outdated, abstract, and one-size-fits-all approach that is not serving our students, especially those who have historically been furthest from opportunity. This inflection point has brought into high relief the need of students everywhere to be fully immersed in proven, innovative, and learner-centered teaching and learning opportunities such as project, problem, and place-based education. But to implement such strategies well, schools need the time, space, and energy to reimagine how, what, where, when, and why students are able to learn best and do so in a way that leverages the assets, talents, and skills in their own schools and communities (instead of from outside organizations or programs). This program affords participating schools the chance to focus on building teacher capacity and establishing robust systems that create a culture of innovation instead of a patchwork of innovation.

What are the program’s objectives and desired outcomes?

  • Participants will start with empathy by truly understanding the why/purpose of their school – current state and desired state per their mission & vision. This will extend to identifying foundational actions needed to bring their mission & vision to life through facilitated protocols to address the creative tension between vision and reality.
  • Participants will assess their current level of student and teacher collaboration (PLCs, classroom rounds, critical friends, student collaboration, advisory, etc.) and methodically determine what structural changes might be needed to build a deep culture of collaboration.
  • Participants will use formal protocols to evaluate their current level of teacher autonomy and leadership capacity. Based on this evaluation, each school team will determine ways to create a more empowered team that leverages collective leadership to amplify and accelerate learner-centered innovation. 
  • Participants will become fluent in the Design Thinking framework so that they can routinely model the design process for and with students, as well as more nimbly solve problems and make continuous improvements. 
  • Participants will spend time identifying, adapting, and refining innovative teaching and learning best practices that have been proven to work for students (e.g. Project Based Learning, Competency Based Education, Advisory, Makerspaces, STEM, etc.). Unlike traditional approaches, however, a hallmark of the RISE program is that schools look beyond the method for these best practices to identify and address the cultural underpinning required to ground them in the DNA of the school.
  • Participants will do a needs/asset assessment to determine how they can increase community involvement in their schools that includes, but is not limited to expert mentors, community-based projects, public exhibitions, job shadowing, etc.
  • Teacher participants will be given the opportunity to assess their depth of knowledge of their own standards and identify ways to make them more relevant, authentic, and engaging to students. Participants will also develop a deeper understanding of alternative assessment and grading models and experiment with aspects of mastery learning.

What does the price include?

  • At least 125 hours of high-quality professional development to help schools develop and implement their customized plan for innovation. This includes whole group PD and site-specific PD.
  • Targeted, sustained coaching by 2+ experienced facilitators for the 2021-22 school year (to help schools implement and refine their plan for innovation.
  • The ability to work in a collaborative network of partner schools in the same cohort, mentoring possibilities with prior RISE schools, and collaboration and/or study visits with partner schools across North Carolina that have been recognized at the state and national level for their innovative practices and culture. 
  • Facility and parking fees for all training held at the NCSU Science House.
  • Overnight accommodations for 3-day sessions and one-day sessions if the school is more than 200 miles from the NCSU campus.
  • Food/snacks for each live PD event. 
  • Workshop supplies during all live events.
  • Open-source access to all resources (slide decks, maturity models, rubrics, self-assessments, etc.) needed to build a culture of innovation at each school.
  • Participating schools are also guaranteed no less than 12 days of direct service and support from expert facilitators, targeted to their specific needs and goals, all at a total cost that is very competitive opposite typical consulting rates.

Is there funding available to help schools cover the cost of enrollment?

The RISE team is currently working on potential grants to cover a portion of the enrollment fees. However, below is a list of grants available for individual schools to help support their own enrollment:

What resources are included?

  • Participants will have access to a variety of materials during and after the program that are full of resources that can help schools develop and refine their innovation culture. All of these materials are open source, allowing participants to revise and adapt them in any way they wish. 
  • Participants will receive a copy of Ben Owens’s book, Open Up, Education! How Open Way Learning Can Transform Schools. 
  • NC State University will also provide a host of materials related to current STEM pedagogy and educational research.

What is meant by a Plan of Innovation?

This is a very specific and intentional plan that each participating school will develop so that they can make a step-change shift in their culture so that it enables authentic, learner-centered teaching and learning strategies to thrive. Each school is guided through a series of design sprints that follow the engineering design process. Each step of the design process will build to a final customized plan: empathy mapping per self assessments and focus groups, defining pinch points and objectives, ideation per a gap  and/or SWOT analysis, prototyping possible solutions and improvements, and testing ideas to produce a final, prioritized plan for sustained innovation that is uniquely adapted to the local school’s community and context. Throughout the year-long design process, facilitators will provide personalized professional development for the school team (including being available for at least 2 days of school-based support).

Are participating schools required to pay the total amount at the beginning of the school year?

No. Participating schools will be invoiced in late October/early November, but the amount is not due until December 31, 2021

Are there additional costs that schools might have to cover?

Schools are responsible for their individual travel costs such as mileage, as well as any substitute fees.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: Contact Michelle Benigno at 828-206-3014 or