Two-way Street: R5CC engages states as it builds its communication capacity

Authors: Lori Vandeborne, Co-lead, Virginia and Jobi Lawrence, Co-lead, West Virginia              



When R5CC director Kimberly Hambrick started building her team, she leaned into her knowledge and certification in the Maxwell Method of DISC and asked her team to complete the Maxwell Method DISC Communication Impact Report assessment – a measure of how each one of us is uniquely wired in terms of our communication and collaboration styles. Kimberly knew once the team understood their own and others’ communication styles, they could collaborate more easily and build cohesion by playing off each other’s strengths. 


Kimberly led us through an exercise to deepen our understanding of our [own] communication style. With leadership from Kimberly, our team was able to connect and understand how we work together – how we leverage our skills and where we can grow. We have a strong foundational understanding of our unique styles that has allowed us to capitalize on our strengthens to provide the best services to our clients. Laura Taylor, R5CC Deputy Director


The Opportunity

Seeing the benefits first-hand, R5CC staff realized that state clients and their teams could also benefit from understanding their own and adapting to others’ communication styles, especially within the fast-paced state education agency (SEA) environment. By moving internal efforts to build communication capacity out to the states, R5CC helped state clients in Virginia and West Virginia communicate and collaborate more effectively.


What Was Done


map of VirginiaVirginia. Working with the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Quality, R5CC state co-lead Lori Vandeborne helped Aurelia Ortiz, ED.D., Director of School Quality, bring her team together, include several new members and shift their focus from delivery of compliance-based services to continuous improvement. Using the Maxwell Method of DISC communication to build their capacity, the team was able to build their understanding of their own and others’ leadership attributes and communication preferences.  Dr. Ortiz saw members of her team becoming “stronger and more confident” and would like to continue this support for new hires.


Because we immediately saw the value of building communication capacity within our own R5CC team, it was easy to see how the same approach could help state clients. – Lori Vandeborne, R5CC Co-lead, VA
The DISC helped me build my own capacity, understand my strengths and where I need to focus, and impact my team and our outcomes. – April Kiser-Edwards, PH.D., School Quality Specialist, VA Department of Education

map of West Virginia



West Virginia.  In West Virginia, R5CC co-lead Jobi Lawrence worked with the Office of Student Support and Well-Being (OSSWB) to meet the needs of students with adverse childhood experiences (ACES) by helping to build cohesion and communication capacity within a newly formed office comprised of roughly a dozen programs.



As OSSWB hired and on-boarded new staff, the DISC process provided an opportunity for senior leadership to honor individual team member’s communication and work styles and come together with the capacity to function as a high performing team. – Jobi Lawrence, ED.D., R5CC Co-lead, WV


Next Steps

In addition to building internal capacity, SEAs can use similar approaches to support improvements at the district and school levels.  

To check out more about the work R5CC is doing, visit: Home | Comprehensive Center Network, Region 5, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia ( or follow us on Twitter @ #R5CCEdChat.