REL Appalachia is pleased to announce the arrival of our new Director!
July 2015 

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Our New Director
REL Appalachia (REL AP) welcomed a new leader to the team in June. Dr.
Deborah Olsen has taken the reigns as director bringing fresh ideas and innovative practices to the position.

"I am honored to join CNA and REL Appalachia," said Olsen. "The REL approach - using data to inform and facilitate educational change - is the most efficient and effective way to promote progress in this region that I can imagine. The excellent projects already underway at REL Appalachia provide an important foundation for even broader impact across the region and the development of productive synergies across projects."

Prior to joining REL AP, Olsen served as assistant provost, director of Institutional Research & Planning Analysis, and associate professor at Virginia Tech. She continued to apply her expertise in education policy, program evaluation and outcomes assessment as a consultant. Olsen also worked as assistant vice chancellor and director of Institutional Research, director of Faculty Development and associate professor. Olsen has a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, and was a postdoctoral fellow in Child Development & Social Policy at Yale University.

Olsen wants to hear from you about ways REL AP can help your school, community and state. You can contact her at

Director's Perspective 
"The goal of REL Appalachia is to empower every educator in our four-state area to improve instruction and the academic achievement of their students through efficient and effective use of educational research. This goal has become increasingly important as the way teachers teach and students learn has undergone a major evolution. Changes in technologies, careers, economics and modes of human interaction have been profound. Educational research, existing and new, can inform and guide educators about new ways of engaging students and making learning relevant.

"Research can help promote deeper mastery of students' basic skills - math, science, literacy - but also promote using these skills in the service of the higher-order thinking and problem-solving that are essential to a successful career and life. It is a privilege to provide the dedicated teachers and administrators of central Appalachia with the ideas and data they want and need to enhance their teaching, to inform their expectations of student performance, and ultimately, to produce college-, career-, and life-ready students for the 21st century."

Deborah Olsen, Ph.D., Director, REL Appalachia 
Ask REL Appalachia
Through Ask REL Appalachia, we can provide quick responses to your regional needs for education-related information. We provide references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations on research based education questions. To learn more about other services we provide, please contact us at

Ask REL Appalachia

REL Appalachia Event Recaps 
Workshop: Principal Leadership Strategies for Promoting Teacher Data Use
June 9, 2015
Dr. Jeffrey C. Wayman, President of Wayman Services, LLC, led a workshop for school leaders and administrators on 10 leadership strategies principals can use to guide staff in using data to improve instruction.

Access event materials
Webinar: Principles of Innovation Configuration Mapping
May 28, 2015
REL Appalachia held a webinar on Innovation Configuration (IC) Maps,
which are tools that describe the major components of a program or practice (i.e., an "innovation") and how these components can vary when implemented. The webinar focused on how educators and school leaders can use IC Maps to help manage, guide, and sustain implementation of new initiatives.

Watch the webinar recording
Webinar: How Do We Use Student Engagement Data to Improve Instruction?
May 8, 2015
Webinar participants learned about available research-based strategies for improving student engagement and how to monitor student engagement through multiple types of data.

Workshop: Using Data to Improve Instructional Practice to Tackle Student Learning Challenges
April 16/17, 2015
This first workshop in a series on using data to improve student outcomes focused on how examining student work in collaborative teams can help teachers identify learning challenges, improve their instruction, and monitor students' progress.

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