The First Light Approach

First Light Education Project is a consulting and collaborative initiative in which we bring expertise and inquiry to work with you to develop, manage, and improve your work in education. We work from where you are and what you need to get you to where you want to be.

Our guiding principle, Starting with What Works, represents a strengths-based and question-driven approach, focused on developing relationships with educators and educational organizations, generating effective professional development programs, providing high-quality data collection and analysis, helping educators and organizations optimize performance and services, and creating and disseminating knowledge.

Areas of Expertise

Core areas of expertise include student/learner/teacher engagement, arts and education, Native education, use of data for organizational improvement (including applied data use within nonprofit organizations), school and organizational culture, student learning, assessment, evaluation, teacher work and beliefs, language and culture, education policy, science education, strategic planning and communications, and journal publication.

How We Work

We founded First Light Education Project to pursue deep and effective work in education across disciplines and communities, systems and structures, and philosophies and practice. Our broad purpose is to support individuals, organizations, institutions, and communities to get from where they are to where they want to be. The major ways we do this are:

  • We evaluate and assess. We are an external evaluator for programs, grants, organizations, and institutions. With you, we will design an evaluation that will answer your questions, assess the effectiveness of your programs, and point you toward continued progress toward your goals. We work through a process of Engaged Evaluation, which guides us in collaborating with clients and partners to create effective evaluation products.
  • We do research and analysis. We are experienced researchers in both qualitative and quantitative research, who, along with a network of colleagues, bring strengths in a variety of research methods, including one-on-one interviewing, focus groups, statistical methods, large dataset analysis, and innovative methodologies. We start with understanding and developing your driving questions for the research, and then design the most effective methodology for pursuing answers to those questions. Supporting research for reporting, for formative assessments of program progress, and for future planning, we present analyses in both written reports and presentations, and engage you in understanding the process and findings throughout the work.
  • We facilitate planning and action sessions. When you want an external facilitator to help elicit and bring together ideas for a mission statement, strategic plan, program planning session, or plan-to-action workshop, we work with you to develop goals, frameworks, and questions that guide the session. After the facilitated session, we engage with you in a process of synthesizing and analyzing the ideas, and generate a report to guide the next steps in the work.
  • We coach writing. We develop and strengthen writing and writers, through individual coaching sessions and writing workshops. Whether writing for academic journals, chapters, books, or reports, we work with you to find your voice and create high-quality written pieces.
  • We do professional development workshops for teachers and administrators. We work with teachers, educators, and administrators to model and experience innovative pedagogies based on creating highly-effective teaching and learning interactions, in which learners and educators are engaged in both process and product.
  • We focus on engagement. Learning happens best through interaction and engagement. We model engagement through our interactions, our coaching, and our teaching. We also study engagement — student engagement, faculty engagement, employee engagement — and we help develop strategies to strengthen engagement in schools, organizations, and institutions.