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All parents want the best for their children. As a parent, finding the best education for your kids is top of mind. Many parents with school-age children base important life decisions, like buying a home, around which school district their child will attend.

How Can We Efficiently Improve Our Children’s Educations?

There is a school district that is blazing the improvement trail.

In the state of Washington, about 26 miles from the SeaTac airport, Tacoma Public Schools is making a difference in the lives of the children and the parents that are lucky enough to attend this school district.

Tacoma Public Schools is striving to improve the education they provide to their children by:

  • reducing waste
  • streamlining processes
  • building a culture of problem-solvers

What are their goals? Being more efficient so that more time money and resources can be allocated towards student services.

Embarking on Their Lean Six Sigma Journey

Developing a Lean culture is a proven approach that many organizations have implemented to achieve these outcomes. Under the leadership of CFO, Rosalind Medina, Tacoma Public Schools began preparing for their Lean journey.

Like many other public school districts, this was a challenge due to limited funds and the strong ambition to deliver lasting, scalable improvement results.

Medina encouraged staff to get Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training, apply Lean Six Sigma concepts in real world applications and complete improvement projects that make an impact.

To help ensure they achieved their goals, Tacoma Public Schools partnered with GoLeanSixSigma.com.

GoLeanSixSigma.com’s online Lean Six Sigma courses paired with Group Reviews empowered Tacoma Public Schools to learn and apply Lean Six Sigma by providing:

  • Flexible timing to complete the modules
  • Fun, practical examples to learn concepts
  • Creating a schedule to complete learning tasks and activities
  • Creating a team environment to learn
  • Hearing about project progress from others in the group
  • Having the guidance of an expert to answer questions and provide coaching

Jennifer Traufler, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services, was part of the first cohort of Green Belt candidates along with 8 other employees.

“Our burning platform is to be as efficient as possible so Tacoma Public Schools can maximize our resources to support student learning,” Traufler says.

If processes work efficiently and effectively in the district, then more effort, time and resources can be applied to what adds value for students and parents.

Applying Lean Six Sigma concepts is a great approach to making things better for any organization. We had a chance to talk with Traufler about her experience participating in the Green Belt training.

Our burning platform is to be as efficient as possible so Tacoma Public Schools can maximize our resources to support student learning.

Case Study: Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Selecting the Right Lean Six Sigma Partner

What helped you decide to get involved?

“A couple of years ago our Superintendent, Carla Santorno asked all Cabinet members to try GoLeanSixSigma.com’s Free Yellow Belt Training. I completed it and wanted more. Other Green Belt Training providers had class schedules that simply didn’t align with my work schedule.” – Jennifer Traufler

Traufler did have hesitations about going through an extensive online training program alone.

“My struggle was that I knew I would learn more in a group and I wanted to apply my learning through the process. GoLeanSixSigma.com was the perfect answer! I reached out and within minutes had a response back, even though it was late on a weeknight. We set up a conference call and the team shared opportunities for group facilitation and coaching. I reached out to like-minded colleagues to join me and we had a group ready to go that was excited to learn together.”

My struggle was that I knew I would learn more in a group and I wanted to apply my learning through the process. GoLeanSixSigma.com was the perfect answer!

Case Study: Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Green Belt candidates at Tacoma Public Schools participating in scheduled group sessions with a virtual Master Black Belt facilitator.

Traufler created a schedule for the Green Belt program. The schedule helped the candidates stay on task with the online training modules, the pre-work and project work. At each DMAIC phase, a virtual session was scheduled with Master Black Belt, Tracy O’Rourke from GoLeanSixSigma.com.

The live sessions provided guidance to the team members for applying the training concepts and support with project challenges and progress. There were five virtual sessions scheduled with the Master Black Belt throughout the program. This approach was a great balance between keeping training costs down, and providing accessibility to an expert throughout the training.

How did the training help you apply the concepts to real world application?

“The group facilitation was tailored to our team, using our project work for discussion and team learning. Tracy O’Rourke from GoLeanSixSigma.com talked us through content, answered questions, posed project questions, and truly helped us to apply tools to our process improvement projects. This made the learning applicable immediately and we all got to experience process improvement in our daily work.” – Jennifer Traufler

This made the learning applicable immediately and we all got to experience process improvement in our daily work.

Case Study: Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Jennifer Knight, Renee Trueblood and Stephen Story discuss a Green Belt Project.

Immediate Results

What kind of project success did you achieve as a result of the training?

“In our team of 9 participants we had 5 different projects. Each project resulted in decreasing steps in a process, improving quality to customer satisfaction, and saved resources.” – Jennifer Traufler

Each project resulted in decreasing steps in a process, improving quality to customer satisfaction, and saved resources.

“One project had the hypothesis that there wasn’t enough staff in place to address the need. They were gearing up to request more staffing. In the end, the team learned that there was enough staff but our processes just needed to be streamlined to meet the desired outcomes. This was a win for the district!”

The team wrapped up their training with a presentation at the Cabinet meeting. The Superintendent, Carla Santorno, allocated a portion of the Cabinet meeting to Lean Six Sigma. All of the learners were recognized for their commitment to earning their Green Belt and the teams shared their storyboards in various forms. Cabinet members circulated the room to view the storyboards and engaged in conversation with the project teams.

Case Study: Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Kathryn McCarthy and Rae McNally presenting their Green Belt project.

Case Study: Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Jennifer Traufler and Jennifer Knight at the Green Belt recognition event.

The team efforts were recognized, celebrated and we all enjoyed cake together!

Case Study: Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

What were some key reasons why GoLeanSixSigma.com became your training provider?

“GoLeanSixSigma.com met our interests of providing an affordable training option with flexible time commitments for participants that could be customized a bit to our needs. My favorite part was being able to complete my online content anytime that worked for me. Even in my pajamas on my couch!” – Jennifer Traufler

GoLeanSixSigma.com met our interests of providing an affordable training option with flexible time commitments for participants that could be customized a bit to our needs. My favorite part was being able to complete my online content anytime that worked for me.

Would you recommend GoLeanSixSigma.com’s training and coaching to others?

“Absolutely! We already have! Our next cohort of Lean Six Sigma trainees is underway, and we’re planning a third cohort, too!” – Jennifer Traufler

Congratulations to the first cohort of Lean Six Sigma Green Belt graduates at Tacoma Public Schools!

Green Belt Team Certificate - Tacoma Public Schools - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Ready to Start Improving?

Contact us through our website or start your free 2-week trial below to any of our courses to ensure they’re the right solutions for you and your teams. Government Discounts and Group Discounts are available.

Try any course for 2-weeks to ensure it’s right for you and your teams by completing this short form.

Please note that free trials are only available if you’re registering a group of 5 or more learners.

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Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at University of California San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.