(Posted January 1, 2014)
by Kimberly Harper

This past weekend I purchased a can of IdeaPaint and painted two white boards on adjacent walls of my laundry room.  I did not use the paint because I was unable to find white boards in specific shapes or sizes, rather, I used it because I found the origin of IdeaPaint fascinating.

laundry room

laundry room 2

The story of the creation of IdeaPaint echoes perseverance, determination, and a will to succeed. In 2002, while attending Babson College, John Gosha came up with a wonderful idea!  During brainstorming sessions with fellow students, John would cover the walls of the dorm with large pieces of paper. Their thoughts and ideas, written on this paper, eventually covered the walls. It was during one of these brainstorming sessions that the idea of painting the walls with a material that mimicked a whiteboard came to fruition. After three years of research, two different labs concluded that it was impossible to create paint with the properties of a white board.  John’s roommate encouraged him not to give up, so John enlisted the services of Marty Donbrosky at CAS-MI Laboratories in Michigan.  Two years later, John and Marty had invented a white board paint product ready for commercial distribution.

My colleagues and I have been working on the latest version of the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG). The SPDG, or as we call it, Project WIN ( Wyoming Instructional Network), began with a wonderful vision: Provide districts and schools with Professional Development and Technical Assistance geared toward their needs with the goal of improving outcomes for students with disabilities.

While this seems like an obvious goal, there is a real issue as to delivering services geared toward the unique needs of each district while ensuring sustainability.  We have tiered systems in place for identifying children who may be at risk, so why not provide a tiered system of support for our districts?  Thus, we began structuring the delivery model for professional development and technical assistance around this idea.  The “State Implementation Team” through their review of student data can help identify districts that need assistance. This information will then be passed along to a “Regional Implementation Coach” who will sit down with district administration and collaboratively review the district’s data and work on a district needs assessment. Together, the regional coach along with district personnel will develop a plan for increasing student achievement.  The regional coach will work with the district to provide resources and implementation coaching.  They will be a partner in working with a district to ensure that a sustainable, highly-effective, research-based program is in place to increase the achievement of our students with disabilities.

 The Special Programs Division of the Wyoming Department of Education understands the same basic premise that the creators of IdeaPaint understood about success:  perseverance, diligence, and a will to succeed will drive Project WIN.  Together with our partners, we will create positive outcomes for our districts, educators, teachers, students with disabilities, families, and ultimately our communities. Our slow and methodical start is a testimony to our commitment to deliver the “best product” we can.  Look for details of our progress on the Project WIN website.

I am truly fortunate to be part of such a wonderful program and I look forward to serving students with disabilities.

Kimberly Harper
Wyoming Department of Education
Special Programs Division
Administrator of Learning

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