About Me

I have been a public school educator for more than twenty years. My experience includes . . .

  • teaching high school English
  • teaching middle school Social Studies
  • teaching middle school Language Arts
  • supervising in-school suspension rooms
  • leading initiatives as a literacy leader
  • leading initiatives as a school improvement facilitator
  • leading in buildings as an assistant principal
  • leading buildings as a principal
  • serving on district councils and committees
  • serving on a state advisory committee 


As the summer institute director of the Kansas City Teaching Fellows, from 2000 to 2010, I prepared ten cohorts of promising recruits from other careers to teach in our high-needs schools. 

As a teacher, I always wanted to serve under a leader who could conceive and communicate a meaningful vision for our school. I wanted our leader to challenge us to go for broke in our efforts to create a school out of our collective imagination. 

This is the kind of leader I aspired to be as I accepted the principalship of my first, and then my second, challenging middle school in the urban district of Kansas City, Kansas, where the majority of the student population lives in poverty, and a large percentage of kids speak English as a second language.



There is a level of reality in the work of school reform that is unfathomable to most outsiders, and even to many insiders. To clearly understand how the odds are stacked against us and our students only serves to spur us on. Many of us learn to thrive in an environment in which tackling the impossible is all in a day's work.

We can always do well, do more, do better, do great, but none of us can make a sweeping difference by ourselves. 

We have to walk together, push and pull one another, cheer one another on, hold each other up, become that force that cannot be broken, in our individual schools and in our community, with our kids as our unwavering focus. The kids. The kids. The kids.



I tell my staff of 45 committed professionals that I have not yet seen the school of my imagination, but every year we get closer and closer to becoming that exceptional place where kids love to be. 

A place where their needs - however dire - are met. 

A place where their teachers extend themselves daily in extraordinary ways to ensure students' security and success. 

A place where kids and adults enjoy each other, have fun together, fight obstacles side by side, and stand together against discouragement and defeat.


It is more than a notion. It is a calling on our lives. We make that calling actionable by the decisions we make at and for our school. 

Now, late in my career, I feel like sharing our discoveries and outcomes, and so I am writing - blogging and authoring articles. 

I recently published my first book, called Beyond Classroom Management: Building Your School-Wide Discipline System. 

 

I am learning tons about authorship, typology, the publishing and self-publishing industries, design, marketing, and business.

(I know my school family is not-so-secretly glad that I am spending my free time this way instead of thinking up new things for us to do!)