Dr. Linda Henke has been an inspirational leader, facilitator and mentor to our growing staff at Grand Center Arts Academy (GCAA) in the areas of teacher leadership and curriculum writing using Understanding By Design (UBD). As a new school, that adds 15+ new staff every year, it has been a challenge to provide consistent and meaningful professional learning opportunities for them. Under Dr. Henke’s direction, the staff is well on its way to creating a rigorous curriculum with the end goal, as always, to maximize student learning. Dr. Henke knows how to present material and coach individual teachers using humor. She addresses multiple learning styles, and she models a passion for learning which makes her a delight to work with. She pushes teachers to use their creative intelligence in the curriculum writing process and honors their commitment to choosing the path of a professional educator. Dr. Henke’s expertise and wisdom have been invaluable to GCAA on our journey of continuous improvement.”
Lynn Glickert, Executive Director, Grand Center Arts Academy
Had I not met Linda Henke, I would not be writing this review as the incoming superintendent of the Columbia Public Schools – a rapidly urbanizing district of nearly 19,000 students. Linda is smart. Linda listens. Linda doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. Instead, she challenges you to consider every angle of an issue. She is, in the words of Peter Senge, an idealistic pragmatist. She has helped me develop a narrative for what I think schools could look like, and she has done it in a way that is honoring of my core beliefs while also helping me navigate the political landscape inherent to public schools.
Peter Stiepleman, Superintendent, Columbia School District
My work with Linda during my first year as a head principal was invaluable and was a major contributor to my my success. I met with Linda before I began the principalship to develop an entry plan. During the year as we met and talked on the phone, she helped me identify issues, set priorities, and develop action plans with my administrative team. It was great to know she had my back and I could call her whenever I needed to sort through an issue. Her ability to listen, ask good questions, summarize issues, and suggest a range of possibilities was so helpful.
Mike Maclin, Head Principal, University City High School
When I was the Director of the International Education Consortium, David Bristol assisted me in conceptualizing and writing several grant proposals. He found grant sources and was especially helpful in program design and staffing requirements. He made sure the grants advanced our work and didn’t put undue burden on our staff members, as sometimes occurs with grants.
Later, I worked with David when we crafted a collaborative Teaching American History Grant between the Cooperative School District and the Missouri Historical Society. David at this time was the Director of Education for the Missouri History Museum and reached out to us to join in this project. We found him able to quickly identify outcomes and develop the ideas from several people into a coherent text that met the grantee’s requirements. Bringing the staffs together from two different institutions was a challenge, and David’s managerial skills made that possible.
David is highly collaborative, and an excellent writer and editor who can express ideas clearly. He understands what grantees want and he knows how to express our program goals in ways that make our requests stand out.
Dennis Lubeck, retired Director of the International Education Consortium
Since your visit in January, I feel that La Scuola, the teachers, Barbie and myself, have grown tremendously. Of course, growth is something that is almost inevitable over time. However, being a part of La Scuola’s story since the very start in 2006, I can’t say that the feeling, atmosphere and development have ever felt this way. I realize the powerful influence that you have both played in La Scuola’s story. Your knowledge and belief in children, and your vision of proper nurture and education are at the basis of this influence.
Visiting the schools in St. Louis has made a learning world that I had only envisioned in the past, a reality to me. I find myself reflecting and referencing all of the schools constantly. I read Louis’s literature, and review the photos I was able to take in St. Louis, and feel a renewed sense of motivation and encouragement to work towards creating a similar learning space for children.
I realize that we are at the start of something larger then I had ever imagined for La Scuola, as well as my own personal role in the development of this learning community. I also realize that working with the Cadwell Collaborative gave La Scuola, and our teachers, the push we needed to really get in deeper with the Reggio Approach, and overall learning and growth.
Thank you SO MUCH, for your influence, eagerness to share and kindness.
Jessie Rodriguez, Principal, La Scuola Independent School
I am going to try to keep this short and sweet because I know the two of you are very busy inspiring thousands of children and educators, but I am feeling extremely inspired and enlivened, and I have you to thank you for lighting the spark. So, THANK YOU- thank you for taking the time to study the Reggio Approach as well as Sustainability Education, and presenting them to the teachers of La Scuola in a way that is very accessible and applicable. Thank you for spreading such good energy. Your emotional attachment and strong, solid belief in your philosophy are awe inspiring. Thank you for being helpful in very concrete ways, without being invasive or judgmental. Your warmth and passion filled up our entire school when you were present. It was a feeling that didn’t go away after you left.
Since your visit I have purchased Louise’s second book, as well as Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence. I am a sponge, and I love every minute of this. My students are too. We were bouncy with enthusiasm before, but now we are on a rocket starting a steady soar. It is beautiful. So, once again thank you for everything you do and continue to do for the education world. I am so happy to be on this journey with you.
Lastly, I have started a blog to share my stories with other teachers. My dream is for it to turn into an open dialogue between like minded teachers, parents, and other people that are connected to school communities (pretty much everybody). I have embedded a link to your web page. I also talked about a few things I got out of our conversations, and I also added a quote from Louise’s book Bringing Learning to Life. I hope this is okay with you. Of course I gave proper credit. I also put up some of the pictures of the Diana School I found online through another inspired blogger. I would LOVE for you to take a look as the blog grows.
Jessica Hartings, 1st and 2nd Grade Teacher, La Scuola, Miami, Florida
The Curriculum & Staff Development Department was honored to host Dr. Bonnie Davis on April 18th for a Saturday workshop on the topic “How To Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You”. Dr. Davis presented a workshop last year that was extremely successful and well-received, so the Director of Curriculum and Professional Development worked in tandem with the Director of ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) to bring her back for round 2 of trainings. Dr. Davis’ specialty is “culturally responsive instruction”.
Dr. Davis is a lively presenter who knows how to engage a crowd and keep things interesting.. Davis believes teachers should cultivate a balance between what she calls “ritual” and “novelty” in the classroom. Good teaching is a blend of rituals, the consistent and familiar aspects of school life, with novelty to keep things fresh and interesting for students.
Dr. Davis pursued four main themes during the training: Looking Inside, Listen/Learn From Others, Integrating New Knowledge, and Call to Action. Participants first examined their own cultural backgrounds and beliefs; next they listened to and learned about other’s cultural heritage, integrating this new knowledge; and finally they heeded the call to action (culturally sensitive and informed teaching.
Afterward, class participants were lavish in their praise. Participant Kristin Occasio (DMS Teacher) felt they “learned some great strategies that can be used in every classroom.” Another participant, Angi McCutcheon (Career Development Program Teacher) hopes that “some of the teaching strategies to honor cultural differences will encourage student tolerance of each other.” Marissa Harrer (DES Teacher) appreciated the reminder that “all of my students are different from me…it is always beneficial to be aware of how to accommodate, and empathize with them.” Wendy Pinkston (BMS Teacher) felt the Davis training “showed me some new ways to get my students involved in class. If students are more involved, they will become better learners.”
Chris Boortz, Director of Curriculum
You really did an awesome job in kicking off the year for all three of my consortia…people went away genuinely invigorated and ready to rock their school worlds. I truly couldn’t have picked a better facilitator to get people thinking in deeper ways about their relationships with their diverse children and their instruction in classrooms…you were very much a wonderful gift to all of us.
Robert L. Jarvis, Ph.D.Director of K-12 Outreach Director, Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence and Equity Director, Long Island Consortium for Excellence and Equity Co-Director, New Jersey Network to Close the Achievement Gaps Penn Center for Educational Leadership Graduate School of Education University of Pennsylvania
When some Title I schools began searching for effective professional development to support emerging 1:1 efforts, Dr. Robert Dillon was identified as a leading expert in the field in the area of technology integration. Principals and teachers alike reported that not only was Dr. Dillon’s professional development engaging and relevant to their learners, but that he also provided a scaffolded approach to teacher professional growth. Dr. Dillon offered schools customized training that built teacher capacity and understanding about integration, provided hands-on, user friendly applications, and offered ongoing support for implementation through coaching and feedback. When asked about their training, teachers report that working with Dr. Dillon was “one of the best trainings they have ever attended”.
Dr. Melissa Nixon, Director of Title I Services, Guilford County Schools, Guilford County North Carolina
Dr. Dillon’s guidance and consultancy with Patterson Park Public Charter School’s middle school humanities team has been invaluable in both developing our curriculum and shifting our team’s pedagogical approaches in teaching. During his time with us, both on-site and asynchronously, Dr. Dillon has aided in our move to a 1:1 learning environment, helping us think through critical programmatic decisions and providing insights that helped us avoid potential pitfalls. Dr. Dillon facilitated an intense review of our curriculum and lead our team through a total revision of our student learning objectives through implementation of the Understanding by Design framework. This work has lead us to reenvision learning and provided us with a curriculum process that will not only benefit our students in deeper, more meaningful learning, but work that leaves a stable foundation for learning to continue to flourish and evolve for years to come.
Dr. Dillon understands that in order to facilitate change you must first listen and understand the needs of all people in that space. He has the ability to push people beyond their comfort zone, while holding their hands to make sure they travel safely into a place of growth. He continues to care for our team through his investment in us as growing professionals and in his desire to make sustainable change that benefit kids around the country.
I would not be the leader I am today without the mentorship of Barbara Kohm. When I was a new principal, Barbara served as my mentor. The investment of time she put into my learning and leadership has paid multiple dividends in my 10 years as an elementary principal. Throughout my entire tenure as a school leader, Barbara has made herself available to me to challenge my thinking, to offer reflective questioning, and to provide constructive feedback. Each time I met with her, I left with a new idea or new resources to explore in order to strengthen my leadership. She influenced me to serve as the lead learner within the school community – being the type of principal who was able to be vulnerable and open to new perspectives. I have been able to experience firsthand the systemic impact of Barbara’s school leadership because I currently serve as the principal of her former school. Even after 14 years, the school still benefits from the sense of ownership, teacher leadership, and high expectations she fostered as the former principal – and the teachers consistently share memories of her leadership.
On a personal note, Barbara has gone beyond serving as a mentor to me. She has become a dear friend who will probably never realize the tremendous impact she has had on me –mainly due to her selfless and modest affect. I am not only a strong principal under Barbara’s guidance, I am a better person.
Sean Doherty, Principal
Barb has been my mentor for two years in my current district. Barb pushed my thinking and perspective on multiple issues as I moved from being an assistant principal to a building principal. Her ability to understand systems thinking and human dynamics and at the same time weaving them into my strengths made her an integral part of my success and the success of my building.
Mike Dittrich, principal
Barb Kohm’s presence in my professional life has been without question a key factor in my success. When we met, I was a new principal with grand ideas, strong convictions, an undying belief in children’s capacity to learn, and a teaching staff that was completely dysfunctional. Despite the difficult personnel issues, Barb never let me waiver from my desire to create a safe and healthy place for children. Through her ability to listen deeply and question my assumptions about human behavior, I was able to see how I might effect change in what seemed like an impossible setting. As the school climate became less hostile, Barb prepared me to work with the staff to chart a new direction for the school.
Her keen sense for selecting just the right tools and strategies to assist me with moving the work forward; was invaluable. As our work together continued, I began to actually believe it was possible to do this job!
Thirteen years later, I still meet with Barb to dialogue about new challenges, and she continues to bolster my confidence to have the courageous conversations the work demands. I will be eternally grateful for her presence in my professional life and will continue to seek her out to make me think my way to a better place for children, teachers, and parents.
Cynthia Hebenstreit, Principal of MRH Early Childhood Center
For the past several years, Catherine Von Hatten has worked as an educational consultant with the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District English department. Within her role, Catherine thoughtfully guides the English teachers through the implementation of the Common Core State Standards into the district approved curriculum. She also supervises the final editing of all curriculum documents before they are formally published. During each workshop that she facilitates, Catherine’s high expectations create an atmosphere conducive to hard work and successful outcomes. Her preparation, organization, and attention to detail – both within and out of the context of education – make her the perfect facilitator for a group of English teachers. And her expertise in curriculum design as well as years of experience as a teacher and administrator make the department’s curriculum that much stronger.
Mike Cassell, English Dept Chair
I’ve learned more about good writing and clear thinking from Susie than I did in all my coursework in high school and college. Her careful reading and thoughtful feedback has made my writing livelier and my thinking clearer. She manages to be precise, straightforward and gentle all at the same time. She is a thoughtful listener who helped me strengthen my writing voice without destroying it’s essence. When I edit my own writing, I have Susie’s voice in my head telling me to get rid of clutter, avoid passive voice and use more interesting verbs. I regard the time I spent working with Susie as one of the most successful learning experiences of my life.
Bev Nance, co-author of Principals Who Learn, Professor, Maryville University
Angelia and I first became acquainted through our mutual work with the Service Learning Team and School of Character committee at Oakville High School. I was immediately impressed with Angelia’s depth of leadership knowledge and experience, passion for the field of leadership, and approach to teaching students how to be systems thinkers. Her students have solved real issues in our buildings by designing a “buddy” program with special school district staff to benefit students with disabilities, built and lead a mentoring program for freshmen, and engaged the school and community in many meaningful and valuable activities and acts of service that have significantly improved our school climate. By helping students to understand their own values and the roles they play in their relationships, conflicts, and in the school and community at large, her students have come to not only understand how positive leadership produces results is but also what it means to lead other students and adults on the same journey. The program has been highly successful! The work of her leadership students is not only being replicated by other schools in the area but has also been recognized by the national Character Education Partnership.
Jennifer Gross, Guidance Counselor, Oakville High School, Mehlville School District, St. Louis
As the director of partnerships with 65 school districts that have received federally funded Teaching American History Grants, I organize more than 150 days of professional development workshops each year involving teachers in 33 states. I’m fortunate to work with a roster of 100 expert historians and master teachers such as Angelia, and greatly appreciative of their efforts to drive to schools in big cities and rural hinterlands to deliver top-notch instruction in U.S. history. But it’s the quality of their work that matters most of all, and this is most clearly evident when we’re asked to send the same faculty to return to these districts to lead additional workshops. On that count, time and again, Angelia has proven her exceptional abilities.
Lance Warren, Education Coordinator, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, New York
RiverWorks Discovery©: Katie was an original member of the team that created RiverWorks Discovery, the premier program for helping kids and families understand commerce, culture, and conservation of America’s great rivers and their watersheds. Her first focus was on educational design. She successfully took on strategic planning; co-sponsor and partner development; grant writing and project management; and other functions over several years. Building on her understanding of the marine freight industry, Katie developed the plans and techniques for surveying businesses about homeland security issues and threats. Her analysis of the data and recommendations for action were of great assistance to me in an important research project undertaken for a valuable business ally. I hope to develop new opportunities to use Katie’s skills and perspectives.
Mark J. Carr, Rota Industries (AEP River Operations)
Conservation and Land Management Program: Katie is very creative and hard-working. She is extremely knowledgeable about environmental and biological fields. She served as an interim manager for our Conservation and Land Management intern program, recruiting, interviewing and hiring nearly 100 conservation and land management interns. I recommend her highly!
Dr. Kayri Havens, Director of Plant Science and Conservation, Chicago Botanic Garden
For The Genius Press: Working with Katie at For the GENIUS Press has been both a delight and an education! As an author she communicates her message in an entertaining format that draws the reader into a wealth of green knowledge, inspiring both a new way of looking at the world and a new way of living in it. I have truly enjoyed and benefited from my association with her.
Sandra Cline, Writer, Editor, Communications Strategist and Principal at Sandra Cline