RealTalk at Relay: How to Set Goals and Build Your Instructional Team

October 26, 2023

LeVar Jenkins and Amanda Graham

Principal, District of Columbia Public Schools and Principal Supervisor, Public Schools of Robeson County

On Oct. 26th, 2023, Relay honored National Principals Month with a RealTalk at Relay event aimed at principals and those who support them. 

RealTalk at Relay is a live, online conversation featuring members of the Relay community, from teachers to school and district leaders. We like to keep it "real" by focusing on the issues that really matter to educators, from starting in the profession, to teacher retention, to how lead a school for success.

The theme of this event was Narrowing Your Focus, Building Your Leadership Team. Relay's VP of Innovation and Impact, Dr. Ben Klompus, spoke with two leaders we have profiled in the Follow the Leaders Series: LeVar Jenkins, principal of Burroughs Elementary in the District of Columbia Public Schools, and Amanda Graham, principal supervisor in the Public Schools of Robeson County, NC. They explored how they:

  • Narrowed their focus to a few key priorities
  • Created and implemented "Playbooks" to translate their priorities into a plan
  • Built up their instructional teams - from collective vision setting to how to coach teachers in ways that truly help them grow.

Both leaders have seen double digit gains in student proficiency at schools they have led. Burroughs Elementary, in fact, was named a Bold Performance School by the nonprofit Empowerk12 by being one of very few schools in the District of Columbia to show above average gains for priority students - those designated at risk, students with disabilities, and students of color.

This RealTalk at Relay is short - only 30 minutes! - but jam packed with real world insight and ideas. We hope leaders at all levels, and across the country, learn from LeVar and Amanda's experiences. Talk a listen while you're in the car, making dinner, or taking a walk. And pass along to your colleagues!

Taking it Back to Your School


The Follow the Leaders project is an ongoing series from Relay Graduate School of Education to share insights and inspiration on leading for equity, wellness, and achievement. We profile school and system leaders from across the country and share detailed accounts of their visions, strategies, and day-to-day practices, as well as real-life artifacts and probing questions to help you implement these approaches in your school community. The Follow the Leaders project is supported by The Barr Foundation.


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