TA Director Interview Series – Part 2

In this edition of our newsletter, we are highlighting the work of Tennessee Tiered Supports Center’s Middle Tennessee region. Our feature this month is a chat with Dia Davis, our Technical Assistance Director in the region.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Tennessee TSC?

Davis: I’m Dia Davis, and I am the Technical Assistance Director for the Middle Tennessee region, which is housed at Vanderbilt University.

Can you walk me through a day in your life as the Technical Assistance Director of the Middle Tennessee region?

Davis: I enjoy it because there’s variability in the work. This means I get to facilitate systems change and also dive into the intricate facets of the work. One day I might be facilitating a core training somewhere, and the next day I might be helping to establish a vision for where we want our technical assistance to go next. The next day I might be meeting with leadership team members from a district and helping them network with one another. At other times, I might be answering referrals and figuring out where we can provide assistance to those who may not be in partnership with us yet but still need good tools and resources to support their students.

What’s something your region takes the lead on for Tennessee TSC?

Davis: We support a School Team Lead workgroup. That workgroup allows district and school leaders the opportunity to see what Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) alignment looks like at another school and how implementation is going. They can also take some tips and tricks, learn from each other, and advance their own implementation forward.

What’s one of your favorite resources to share with districts?

Davis: The District Capacity Assessment – Tennessee. It’s laid out as a roadmap for making sure all four of the essential components of RTI2-A + RTI2-B are implemented within a district so that the district is building a sustainable system that supports the needs of all learners. It’s a document that can really guide a district’s work. Click here to read the District Capacity Assessment — Tennessee.

What is a word of advice you have for your districts looking to improve their RTI2-A + RTI2-B implementation?

Davis: You have to start somewhere! I think oftentimes we’re afraid to start because we want things to be ready to go out the gate. And really, it is a process that takes time to get up and running. It’s not going to be perfect at first, but if you keep working at it, and you keep believing and carrying forward in the work, it’s going to produce very, very strong results for your district and for your schools. Also, make sure that you are looking at where you have pockets of leadership in all kinds of places, be it in the community, be it with your students, be it with your faculty or staff. Leaders aren’t just those who wear the name of Director, Assistant Superintendent, or Principal. They can be anyone that can help to support change and make it sustainable.