Finding the How and Seeing the Joy: The Story of High-Quality Instructional Materials in Delaware

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of facilitating a webinar with a set of extraordinary leaders focusing on the impact of high-quality instructional materials in Delaware classrooms. The entire hour is packed with specific facts and examples that not only highlight the impressive outcomes of this work in Delaware, but also dive deeply into how it all happens. Here are just a few of my favorite highlights of the conversation:

  • “I constantly interrogate the curriculum and instruction that our students are exposed to and ask: how can we best demonstrate the brilliance of our students?…I will never tolerate anyone claiming that the rigor is too challenging or that the work is impossible. I demand staff to find the ‘how’ and then I expect them to do it.” Kelly Carvajal Hageman, Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Seaford School District, self-proclaimed “rebel for kids” and panel-proclaimed “rock star”


  • Districts who really leaned into their high-quality instructional materials during COVID are seeing a return on that investment. Seaford has moved from last in the state in 2015 to outperforming state averages across every school.” Kathy Kelly, Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Development, Delaware Department of Education (DDOE)


  • “In our role as a support agency, we work with districts and charters to ensure educators are shifting from initial adoption to skillful implementation of their instructional materials — and we are really intentional about that word ‘skillful.’” Dr. Monica Gant, Chief Academic Officer, DDOE


  • “Because high-quality materials are guiding teachers to act as conversation facilitators as opposed to lecturers, this has transformed some classrooms that were traditionally more teacher-led or lecture-based to spaces where students are really leading their learning through conversation….Folks are seeing more joy and engagement from their students.” Grace McCarty, Associate Director of Research Strategy & Policy, Center for Public Research and Leadership


  • With any change management initiative, sometimes you have to see it to believe it.” Jenn Vranek, Founding & Managing Partner, EdFirst


Thanks to this incredible panel, we can see and believe the progress in Delaware.

Here’s a roundup of the resources shared during the session:

Jocelyn Pickford is an education policy and communications specialist focusing on understanding and promoting practitioner-informed public policy across the private, public and non-profit sectors as a Senior Affiliate with HCM Strategists. She began her career in education as a high school English teacher in a regular and special education inclusion classroom and is now a public school parent and recent member of her local district school board. Previously, Jocelyn led the design, launch and implementation of the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education to integrate teachers into the national education policy dialogue. Jocelyn’s passion for her work was seeded during her own public school education and took root during her classroom teaching experience in Fairfax County, Virginia, where she led action research and presented instructional materials to a variety of audiences. Jocelyn earned her bachelor’s degree from Trinity College (CT), working as a professional writer and editor prior to becoming a teacher, and obtained her master’s in secondary education from the George Washington University. Jocelyn lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and two children.