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May 8, 2015

This week's Podcast features Dr. Bret Champion, Superintendent of the Leander Independent School District in Leander, Texas. Bret discusses Leander ISD's journey and how they faced the challenges of a growing school district, external federal and state standards and limited resources to create a quality education system focused on the most critical component, the student. 

Bret shares his early adoption of the "Leander Way" and how he discovered it was based on the Deming teachings. At Leander, he found a collaborative environment, free from the palpable fear felt at other schools by students and teachers alike. Liberated from fear through partnership, interaction, cooperation and training, it was about a system, "not just by the book". 

Bret explains how he is drawn to messy and noisy classrooms, because "that's where learning happens". At Leander, they realized they did not know what defined a quality classroom or how to measure it. From this experience they developed their "Seven Student Learning Behaviors".

As a district of 36,000 students and 400 employees spread over 200 square miles, Bret describes the constant "battle for balance" and the road to quality as a "marathon". But they continue to work towards incremental changes on their journey of improvement, never letting go of their culture, shared vision and belief that students are "more than test scores".