Jan Barrick, M.Ed., founded Alpha Plus Learning Systems in 1986 to help students improve their performance in school. Her mission quickly grew into helping schools improve their “report card grades” as required by the state’s accountability system.
Since 1990, when the Legislature created the state’s first academic standards and mandated a new type of state tests, the educator team at Alpha Plus has been developing tools aligned to mandates and supporting school improvement.
Evidence-based practices help low-performing schools become high-progress ones focused on each student’s success. Teachers and administrators learn to use data in making decisions that improve both instruction and school results.
Alpha Plus Educational Systems has been customizing services to meet the needs of rural, suburban and urban schools since 1992. Alpha Plus trains educators how to improve performance in English/reading, mathematics and science using a continuous cycle of school improvement. Alpha Plus schools have outperformed the state average for every year of the A-F Report Cards (2013 to 2016) and on the 2018 and 2019 Oklahoma School Report Cards as well.
The Alpha Plus Facilitator Team
Jan Barrick: An educator since 1973, Jan Barrick has taught in elementary through college levels and specializes in learning disabilities and gifted-and-talented programs. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Oklahoma (OU), Jan tutored children while developing a data-driven training for teachers. The author of The Way to an A: How to Help Your Child Succeed in School, the Alpha Plus CEO is a frequent conference presenter on school improvement strategies. An active member of Oklahoma City Rotary Club 29, and on the Board of Advocates for OU’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Jan is a member of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) Executive Committee and Foundation Board as well as the Board of Trustees for the Oklahoma Foundation of Excellence.
LeAnn Johnson: Born and raised in Central High near Marlow, LeAnn Johnson has been in education since 1990. She taught Kindergarten through 8th grade as well as for the Gifted and Talented and Title I programs at Central High Elementary and spent the last 17 years as its principal. Under her direction, Central High Elementary was recognized by the Oklahoma State Department of Education as a high-achieving school and also by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue-Ribbon School. LeAnn received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Cameron University, and her master’s degree in administration from East Central University. After retiring from the district, LeAnn became an Alpha Plus Facilitator in August 2020.
Anita Trojan: Heavener High School graduate Anita Trojan received her bachelor’s degree in Education/English from The University of Oklahoma, and master's degree in Education/Guidance and Counseling from Phillips University. After teaching Language Arts to both adults and high school students in Broken Arrow, Anita taught at Enid High School before becoming Director of Guidance and lead teacher for Credit Recovery. As an Alpha Plus Facilitator since 2015, Anita uses her 34 years as an educator and counselor to help teachers and school leaders. Among Anita’s turn-around successes are:
- Whitebead Public Schools started with Alpha Plus in 2017. The PK-8 school’s 2016 A-F Report Card grade of B- was indicative of the school’s high standards. Yet, their A grades on the Oklahoma School Report Cards’ in both 2018 and 2019 show the power of alignment to state standards.
Cherokee Elementary School, in the Alfalfa-county district, maintained a B grade from 2016 through 2019 and the Middle School improved from a C- to a B in the same time period. This progress is in spite of the transition to higher standards and more rigorous state tests in 2017. According to the OSDE, nearly 10% of students were homeless in 2019.
The Alpha Plus Central Office Team
Jim Childers: With 37 years in education, Jim Childers spent most of his tenure as elementary, middle and high school principal in the Pawnee, Seminole and Crescent Public Schools. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), Edmond. Jim is a School Services Representative who helps principals and teachers use Alpha Plus tools; he also writes proposals and ships curriculum materials to schools around the state. Considered the Facilitator for schools that use some tools but have not contracted for professional development, among these schools’ successes are:
- Flower Mound Public Schools (PK-5) had long struggled with low performance, achieving just a C grade in 2012 when they started professional development with Alpha Plus. Since 2013, Flower Mound has maintained an A grade on state report cards (2013-2016, 2018-2019).
- Big Pasture Elementary School (PK-8) had an A- in 2016 but fell to a B in 2018 and decided to improve their OAS alignment when they started using Alpha Plus Online in 2018. Big Pasture earned an A under the higher standards in 2019.
- With 84% of students in poverty and more than 25% having disabilities, Prue Elementary School scored a D on the A-F Report Cards in 2016; they improved to a C in 2018 and B in 2019.
Wendy Pratt: A Lindsay High School alum with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UCO, Wendy Pratt’s public service career began as Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Henry Bellmon who signed into law historic education reforms and investment in 1990 (House Bill 1017). For the next 20 years, she worked closely with State Superintendent Sandy Garrett, serving as Communications Director for the State Department of Education from 1998 to 2011. Wendy joined Alpha Plus in 2013 and now serves as Chief Information Officer. In that capacity, she:
- oversees OAS-aligned data for about 75 schools served online,
- provides technical assistance as needed to almost a thousand educators, and
- manages operations of Alpha Plus Online, which currently provides assessments and reports from 14,123 students statewide.
Rachel Watson: After graduating from Oklahoma City’s Classen School of Advanced Studies in 2015 with an International Baccalaureate Diploma, Rachel first joined the Alpha Plus team as an intern that summer. After completing a bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Central Oklahoma, Rachel earned a master’s degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She returned to Alpha Plus in 2020 because she wants to work to improve public schools across the state. Her historical research appears in The Chronicles of Oklahoma, and in a forthcoming book published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Now serving as the Director of Operations, she:
- oversees business development, client retention, and recruitment
- supports the creation of new curriculum and classroom materials
Dr. Edna McDuffie-Manning: With her doctorate in mathematics from the University of Houston, Dr. Edna Manning will be remembered in Oklahoma history as the founding president of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. In fact, she has more than 50 years in education and school administration at various levels. Offering her education and experience to the Alpha Plus team, Dr. Manning was the Executive Editor of the Success with OAS Mathematics series of K-8 curriculum.
Nancy Young: Former high school English teacher who retired from Newcastle High School before joining Alpha Plus, Nancy Young is considered Facilitator Emerita. Though retired, she continues helping to train Facilitators and consulting with teachers and school leaders on how to improve schools. Nancy is the Editor of the Success with OAS Reading series and also edits all Alpha Plus assessments for English Language Arts.