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Case Study: Integration of the Three Partnership Support Options

Project Lead: Michelle Kuhns & Megan Holmstrom

Type of Partnership: Macro Learning Systems, Collaborative Culture, and Teaching & Learning

School: Pilgrim School, California, United States

Dates: 2021 - Present

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Vision to Action consultants, Megan and Michelle, have each worked with The Pilgrim School on separate projects over the years.  Realizing the advantages of working with two consultants who are philosophically aligned, the school leadership team invited Megan and Michelle to integrate their areas of expertise and work in partnership together. The proposed project included a deep dive into the school’s current curriculum while setting the foundation for a more innovative future for teaching and learning.


In the summer of 2021, the leadership team, Megan, and Michelle met together to put the proposal into action. Focusing first on the K-12 curriculum, the consultants conducted a K-12 curriculum audit, with Megan focusing on all STEM subjects and Michelle working with languages, social studies, and the arts. They each engaged with teacher leaders and teams to identify whether the teaching and learning experience is accurately reflected in the written documents, to articulate strengths and concerns in the current program, and to ensure fidelity across K-12 research-based learning progressions. Throughout the year, the two met regularly with each other and with the senior leadership team to ensure clarity, consistency, and coherence. 

Starting in the fall of 2022, the focus will shift to collaboratively designing and refining units of study that exemplify mastery-based learning and promote engaging, personalized experiences for students.



​Establish a mastery-based learning system, with a clear and documented curriculum architecture that allows for flexibility and innovation in teaching and learning.

We plan to accomplish this through:

Macro Systems:

  • Auditing the current status of the written curriculum;

  • Comparing the written curriculum to the taught curriculum;

  • Coaching senior leadership and teacher leaders through change and transition;

Collaborative Culture:

  • Defining roles and responsibilities of teams and their leaders;

  • Growing the collaborative culture of professional teams; 

  • Supporting collaborative planning cycles;

Teaching and Learning: 

  • Sharing new tools and strategies to increase student engagement and elevate student agency;

  • Supporting, designing, and leading all faculty in professional learning that impacts and improves student learning.

Connections to Our Core Commitments


Driven by Principles and Beliefs

  • Though challenging, the shifts embraced by Pilgrim throughout the pandemic highlighted that the school was nimble enough to make some very innovative changes, resulting in a comprehensive redefinition of the school’s purpose, promise, and values statement.

  • Michelle and Megan worked with the leadership team in the summer of 2021, facilitating a review of their pre-Covid goals and to explore new possibilities under the updated Pilgrim guiding statements.

Committed to Shared Responsibility

  • The final step in each school visit was to identify next steps in the action plan, assigning responsibility between the leaders, teachers, and consultants.

  • Professional learning needs were identified and scheduled with shared responsibility for facilitation.

Engaged in Collaborative Planning & Goal Setting

  • The action planning process was dynamic and consultants supported the Division Directors in leading educational program initiatives, transforming instructional models, and meeting professional learning goals.

  • Subject area teacher leaders were involved throughout the process and included in decision-making and curriculum development.

Developed Through Partnership Support Options

  • Leadership coaching was consistent and available throughout change and transition.

  • Teams and departments were given increased opportunities for moderating evidence of student learning and planning collaboratively.


Embedded in a Culture of Reflection

  • Access and attention to research raised questions and generated dialogue that led to shifts in teaching and learning practices. 

  • Feedback practices were improved, giving students increased opportunities to reflect on their strengths and areas for growth.

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The original goal was to move to a mastery-based teaching, learning and assessment system. With the onset of the pandemic, and the shifts that they were able to make with a mix of virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning, the school has embarked on a new path towards increased innovation and student agency. The leadership team actively shares their process and success with schools both nationally and internationally.

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Reflections from the Team

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Michelle Kuhns 

Vision to Action Project Lead

What is interesting to me is that the objectives have shifted over the years and our work together has shifted right along with it. This is really what coaching is all about, right? To recognize that the educators we work with have the vision within themselves, and to help them identify the steps necessary to meet their goals. My partnership with Pilgrim has been a mix of leadership coaching, sharing expertise in curriculum design, matching teaching, learning, and assessment practices to the research, leading professional learning, and facilitating the planning process. I have learned new things at every turn. It has been a joy to partner so closely with this school community and to watch them bring their innovations to reality. I am very excited to see where they will take our learning next! 

I often say ‘this is my first official year at Pilgrim, but I’ve been working with them for over 10 years’ because to me that reflects the authentic partnership we have established. I feel like our partnership grew from common interests and commitments to math teaching & learning, and grew to include a commitment to the entire Pilgrim educational program. 

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Megan Holmstron

Vision to Action Project Lead

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Ryan Grady 

Director of Secondary 

I have learned an immeasurable amount in the years working with Michelle and Megan.  I always leave feeling ready and inspired to push my own learning forward, and most importantly the learning of the students in our school.  On a practical level, we’ve seen a tremendous growth in our students and faculty related to mastery-based (or standards-based) learning systems.  On a leadership level, I have seen a distinct shift over the years in the organization and structure of our work.  We are leading professional learning with far more intention than we ever did before and it’s had an immense impact on our school.

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