Everyone Deserves an Unstoppable Advocate

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By Dr. Debi Crimmins and the Customer Advocacy Team

ou can’t truly help your customers if you don’t understand what initiatives they are tackling and what issues they are facing. Before you can advocate for your customer, you need to stop and understand who they are.

Throughout the Covid pandemic, lessons emerged about what it means to take customer partnership to the next level. Our Achieve3000 students, teachers, parents, and districts taught us about what it means to champion listening, empathy, and collaboration. Our Achieve3000 partners across the world helped to deepen the focus and definition of the Customer Advocacy Team.

Four principles guide the work of our Achieve3000 Customer Advocacy Directors

Validation: To help Achieve3000 highlight how it’s having a positive impact on a customer’s own initiatives. This can be in the form of customer case studies, references, social sharing, celebrations, community engagement, and personalized toolkits.

Education: To help current and new Achieve3000 customers use a product or service better by connecting them to the right teams, people, and resources. This can be in the form of company forums, professional learning communities, and specialized keynotes and webinars, as well as be brand ambassadors who can help customers troubleshoot problems by finding the right solutions within the organization.

Dedication: To build Achieve3000 customers as a team of “Spotlights on Success Champions.” This can be in the form of specialized events, institutes, conferences, roundtables, referrals and speaker bureaus.

Inspiration: To empower Achieve3000 customers to further grow the relationship and impactful offerings of the company. This can be in the form of customer advisory boards and other business collaborations across the country.

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Customer Advocacy from Across the Country

Bobbi Bear – Region: East, Southeast
When the pandemic struck and one of her districts was not able to return to the classroom until the spring of 2021, Bobbi listened to the district’s leadership as they planned for students’ and teachers’ re-entry to face-to-face instruction via hybrid learning. With little time for teachers and leadership to received professional learning, Bobbi built a hybrid learning toolkit for the district, providing guidance, strategies, hybrid model lessons, and school leader checklists that allowed every stakeholder to take a collective breath on how to integrate Achieve3000 Literacy into the district’s new learning environment, in ways that would provide consistent strategies to yield reading confidence and growth. In addition, Bobbi provided the tools needed to empower school leadership on building a literacy-driven culture by monitoring and celebrating growth throughout the final months of the 2020-21 school year.

Melissa Aday – Region: Florida, Virginia
In gearing up for the rollout of the new Florida BEST standards, Melissa actively created opportunities for district leaders to share their needs and ideas. Districts need tools that can connect state requirements, district vision, school excitement, teacher passion and student engagement – with literacy as the core tenet. Facilitated conversations between district teams and Achieve3000 leadership highlighted opportunities in which Achieve3000’s tools could be enhanced to support alignment to the new standards, and with many ideas being put into production in time for Back-to-School 2021. Melissa coordinated conversations to identify critical needs, which in turn guided the Achieve3000 content team in developing the WordStudio collection, a tool that supports educators in all states in strengthening foundational literacy skills for secondary students in a respectful and age-appropriate way.

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Danielle Finnerty – Region: West, Northwest, and Midwest
Taking to heart the results of a national study that found students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers, one of Danielle’s districts asked how we could support early literacy at their schools. Early intervention with Smarty Ants was part of the solution to prepare 2nd graders for the transition to 3rd grade. Through our partnership we determined a program alone would not be the full solution. Additional support was needed to understand how to meet foundational literacy needs not just for K-2, but at all grade levels. We provided a 7-week leadership series that helped principals identify the specific assessment data and teacher support needed to move the needle closer to their goal. Dr. Doug Fisher and Dr. Kay Stahl shared insight and research to guide their planning. We celebrated 2nd grade Lexile growth with the district and fast-tracked development of a new K-2 LevelSet to provide Lexile data for all their grades.

Patrick Staley – Region: West, Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest
When you have a true champion for your platform, the “Advocacy” part comes easy. The mission is to not only ensure the success of Achieve3000, but to amplify the voices of our closest partners. Patrick worked closely with one district leader to scale beyond their existing, successful implementation. In order to design a sustainable model, this meant bringing together both district and company leadership to outline goals that went beyond the program to support larger district initiatives. This created an environment for Achieve3000 to support their view on the Science of Reading, universal screener, existing professional learning model, and special content and data alignment within their district structures. Beyond the program, “Advocacy” is also about relationships. Patrick has worked to highlight and celebrate their vision and research through events and publications.

Julie Morrow – Region: West, Southeast
Strategically aligned support is imperative for school districts to have a successful implementation that will truly impact and accelerate learning for all students. Providing the “just right” support empowers a district with the right tools to focus their efforts and meet the overarching needs of their students, teachers, and parents. As districts began their roll out of Achieve3000, Julie intensely researched their strategic plans and met with district leadership to assist in the development of comprehensive plans for support and implementation. Through these purposeful and intentional conservations, she was able to work with the Achieve3000 team to develop individualized plans for professional development that were prescriptive and based on the identified areas of need. This intentional focus allowed the Achieve3000 team to wrap around the districts and provide the support needed to not only meet but exceed their goals.

Tiffany Glasper – Region: South, Southwest
Recognizing that the pandemic widened achievement gaps, Tiffany led proactive conversations with district leaders to address the academic and broader needs of students prior to the 2021-2022 school year. The collaborative partnership resulted in the development of a strategic framework to empower educators, increase student success and build strong community connections. A district landing page was created that allowed leaders, teachers, parents and students to have on-demand access to instructional resources. Tiffany led the coordination of implementation sessions, which allowed the seamless alignment of Achieve3000 supports to campus-specific goals and needs. Although severe weather prompted weeks of additional school closures, this did not impact the community partnership plan. Every early childhood student in the city continued to have free access to our early childhood platform to promote early literacy success. Tiffany also worked closely with parent liaisons to provide family assistance during school closures.

Taking to heart the results of a national study that found students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers, one of Danielle’s districts asked how we could support early literacy at their schools.
Annie Ray – Region: South, Midwest, and Northeast
Our partnership with a northeast district evolved from a persistent communication plan for strong and deeper implementation results. While prior years of use lead to gains, an even deeper commitment to strategic planning, data analysis and structured leadership development is what really created an opportunity to expand to over 64 sites for using Literacy and Math to empower even more students. Coordinating with the professional services team to support principals and champions to speak on our behalf of strategic implementations withing the district. All of this matters to build a partnership where we can meet at frequent yearly touchpoints, accelerated training, basic implementation and use data to drive strategic support for lower performing schools and recognition of those early adaptors whose students have great success with the implementation at their schools.
About the authors
Members of the Customer Advocacy Team that contributed to this article include Bobbi Bear, Melissa Aday, Danielle Finnerty, Patrick Staley, Julie Morrow, Tiffany Glasper, and Annie Ray