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State liaison builds coalitions among researchers and local stakeholders

Taishya Adams State liaison Picture

By Claire Suh
August 25, 2017

For Taishya Adams, the Minnesota state liaison for Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest, the North Star State is familiar territory. Adams also is the Minnesota state manager for the Midwest Comprehensive Center, which works with four state education agencies to increase their ability to support schools and districts. While the RELs conduct applied research and provide training, coaching, and technical support to various stakeholders, MWCC provides more targeted technical assistance support to the SEAs in its region.

We sat down with Adams to learn more about her role with REL Midwest. Adams explained how state liaisons build coalitions among state education staff, researchers, and other key stakeholders.

What do you do as a state liaison?

My role involves reaching out to associations and other organizations that have an educational focus but haven't previously been engaged in REL work. To begin in this role, I identified a list of potential organizations in Minnesota, including school district associations and nonprofits that support education. Then I scheduled meetings with the organizations to share what REL Midwest does and inform them about our current partnerships and communities of practice.

In those meetings, I wanted to gather information about their organization. I listened to their pain points and insights that they shared about the schools or districts that they serve. Based on those conversations, my role is to connect organizations to our partners within REL Midwest that have similar focus areas.

At this point, I've met with six organizations and have identified how REL Midwest can best work with them. For some, we've created reference desk requests to submit to Ask A REL. For others, we're continuing to explore emerging research opportunities and proposing trainings or workshops.

How are state liaisons important to REL Midwest's work?

The most important responsibility for state liaisons is to connect REL Midwest with organizations that may not have been engaged before. The priority is spreading the word that REL Midwest is a valuable resource.

Additionally, state liaisons keep a pulse on all things education in the state. We share what we hear about current projects and initiatives, challenges, and opportunities with the rest of the REL Midwest team. State liaisons often have other connections to the state that offer opportunities to tie work together across roles.

How has your experience with the Midwest Comprehensive Center prepared you for the state liaison role?

Over the past three years, I've become closely involved with Minnesota education networks and communities. While working with MWCC, I have collaborated with these stakeholders to address educational priorities such as continuous improvement, equity, and college and career readiness. This work helps me build connections with Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) staff and better understand the Minnesota education landscape. I bring these connections to REL Midwest, where I continue to build bridges across the education landscape in Minnesota to address common problems and ensure access to quality public schools for all.

One college and career readiness project exemplifies how the comprehensive centers, content centers, and RELs collaborate in their efforts to support MDE. The MWCC serves as the lead partner, providing content experts to co–develop a college and career readiness vision and toolkit. To inform the toolkit development, REL Midwest is conducting an analysis of district World's Best Workforce Plans, which include a section on college and career readiness, to assess district needs. Additional support for this project was provided by the College and Career Readiness and Success Center, which organized a forum with stakeholders across the state to identify needs.

What do you foresee as the most exciting aspect of this role?

MDE is revising its statewide system of support to expand beyond individual public school support and include a focus on building the capacity of district–level staff to support public schools in their portfolios. It will be exciting to see how REL Midwest can assist them with this process.

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Author(s) Information

Claire Suh Staff Picture

Claire Suh

Research Associate Intern | REL Midwest


Beating the odds (2)

Charter Schools (2)

College and Career Readiness (42)

Data Use (32)

Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

Educator Effectiveness (36)

English Learners (10)

Literacy (11)

Math (1)

Online Courses (7)

Research Tools (2)

Rural (14)

Teacher Preparation (24)

Teacher Recruitment (2)

Teacher Retention (2)

Teacher Workforce (14)

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