Associate Director for High School Services

Mel Riddile is the Associate Director for High School Services. He is the former Principal of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Virginia and T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Riddile was the 2006 Met Life/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year and the 2005 Virginia High School Principal of the Year.

His work as a high school principal in diverse, high poverty, urban and suburban high schools has earned him both national and international recognition. He is a recognized leader in efforts to reinvent America’s high schools. Riddile has received White House and U.S. Department of Education recognition and was a member of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s High School Reform Task Force.

Areas of Expertise: Restructuring and reinventing high schools, adolescent literacy, ninth grade transition, second language learners, coaching and mentoring future leaders, organizational change, data-driven decision-making, safety and student discipline, school culture shift, one-to-one computing, raising graduation rates, technology integration, distributed and collaborative leadership.

Connect with Mel

Title: We Spell Hope R-E-A-D
“Students cannot learn from that which they cannot read.” Students with authentic literacy skills can do almost anything in your school. Those without these skills are sentenced to a lifetime of marginal employment and second class citizenship. Literacy is about bringing hope to all students. A focused literacy initiative can help high schools break through even the most formidable barriers to raise student achievement. Even schools that have all the odds stacked against them can become nationally and internationally recognized for outstanding academic performance. Appropriate for all audiences. Length: 60 or 90 minutes

Title: Literacy for Learning
This session will address how to build a foundation of literacy that can enable diverse, high poverty, high second language, secondary schools to establish high expectations for academic achievement and exemplary student behavior, and create an environment of civility, hospitality, mutual respect, and personal dignity. Participants will learn how enhanced literacy skills can improve student performance in all core areas and the impact that improved literacy can have on academic achievement, attendance, and student behavior. In addition, attendees will learn the ten key elements of a successful literacy initiative and the school leader’s role in literacy improvement. Finally, school leaders will learn what teachers must know and be able to do in order to really differentiate instruction. For high school leaders and school teams. Length: Breakout or full-day workshop

Listen to a podcast interview with Mel

Title: Ninth Grade - Our Last Chance
What if, instead of being our first opportunity, ninth grade is our last chance to revive critically ill education patients? Other than reading scores, ninth grade retention rates may be the most telling statistic about the overall health of our school. Before they eventually drop out, retained students tie up our master schedules, wear out our teachers, negatively influence other students, inflate attendance and discipline statistics, and put elective teachers out of work. Student retention is the equivalent of allowing a communicable disease to spread throughout our schools. Ensuring the success of all students, eliminating ninth grade retention, and effectively transitioning students to high school is about so much more than a few friendly conversations between middle and high school staffs. This interactive workshop is designed to identify those areas in which high schools and middle level schools can work together to build effective programs that will ensure seamless transitions for all students. For secondary school leaders and school teams. Length: 90 minutes or full-day workshop

Title: Breaking Through - From Condemned to Commended
Can a school that had all the odds stacked against it break through and become nationally recognized for its outstanding academic performance? Can a diverse, high poverty, high second-language school adhere to high expectations for academic achievement and exemplary student behavior and create “an environment of civility, hospitality, mutual respect and personal dignity?” This workshop will emphasize the need to reach all students and will provide practical strategies that you can replicate in your school. If you love an underdog, you will want to hear the story of J.E.B. Stuart High School’s rise from a failing school to an award winning high school and how you can do it too! For secondary school leaders and school teams. Length: 60 or 90 minute keynote or full-day workshop

Title: “Get 'er Done.”
What is the difference between a good school and a great school? It is certainly not a shortage of good ideas or good intentions. It is about the ability to put ideas into practice. This workshop is about principals taking action, about making the transition from visionary leader to successful implementer. It is about ensuring the success of principals as they engage in systemic reform to improve student achievement. It is about getting the right things done the right way for the right reasons. Participants can choose their focus and will receive strategies on how to put their plans into operation. For secondary school leaders. Length: 90 minutes or full-day

Title: Urban Turnaround
Despite having a poverty level that is four to five times the district average, J.E.B. Stuart High School’s state math scores rank it sixth highest among the twenty-five high schools in the high-performing Fairfax County (Va.) School Division. Likewise, in spite of the fact that two-thirds of its students are second language learners, over 94% of Stuart students passed the rigorous state reading and writing end-of-course exams on the first attempt. Stuart High School made amazing gains in student achievement as measured by the rigorous Virginia Standards of Learning exit exams. Called a failing school, Stuart’s focus on student achievement has made it a national model for serving an “underserved,” disadvantaged and diverse student population. In order to achieve these unprecedented gains in student achievement, the school had to transform from a school that was focused on adults and teaching to one that was obsessed with students and learning. J.E.B. Stuart’s success is the result of a multi-faceted approach to raising the academic achievement of all students that includes high expectations, a belief that, given time, all students can learn, and nationally recognized reading and math programs. For secondary school leaders. Length: 90 minute keynote or full-day workshop

Title: Becoming a Change Agent
Mark Twain said, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” Accountability and high-stakes testing have placed tremendous pressure on principals to raise student achievement by effecting real and lasting change in their schools. There is a big difference in the approaches principals need to take in order to affect short and long-term success. Short-term thinking can lead to long-term problems. Principals want continuous, ongoing improvement in student achievement. In this workshop, you will learn how to gain quick wins, overcome resistance, and create momentum throughout your school. For secondary school leaders. Length: 90 minutes or full-day

Title: One Student at a Time: Raise Your Graduation Rate
A high school diploma is only the first rung in the ladder to economic and social well-being. Yet, too many students are not making that first step. The bottom line is that successful kids don’t drop out. Increasing graduation rates and preventing dropouts is more about creating a culture of success than it is about rescuing drowning victims. High schools must create an environment in which students say, “It’s hard to fail in this school. The teachers won’t let you fail.” Learn how to set up your students and teachers for success, and give them hope. Learn how to create a school culture in which success is an expectation not a surprise. For secondary school leaders and school teams. Length: 60 or 90 minute keynote, breakout, or full-day workshop

Title: Become a Technology Native
Technology is a normal part of the lives of our students. They grew up with technology. As long as school leaders talk about technology as a separate entity, we aren’t there yet. School leaders play a key role in the success of any initiative, particularly technology. Whether you are beginning a technology initiative or implementing a one-to-one computing program in your high school, what you do as a leader will determine success or failure. Participants will learn how to overcome staff resistance, increase computer usage, and how to integrate technology into rigorous and relevant classroom instruction. For secondary school leaders and technology teams. Length: 60 or 90 minute keynote, breakout, or full-day workshop

Title: Success for Second Language Learners
Schools with high numbers of second language learners can beat the odds and outperform elite, private schools. Many second language students speak two languages fluently. So, there is no doubt about their intelligence. The question is, how do we structure programs for our ELL students that will ensure academic success and help them to graduate college- and workplace-ready? Participants will learn how a high school with two-thirds second language learners rose became a model, high performing high school. For secondary school leaders and school teams. Length: 60 or 90 minute keynote, breakout, or full-day workshop

Title: Who’s Driving the Bus?
You can’t change the culture unless you can change the behavior! An orderly and civil school environment is a cornerstone for raising student achievement and creating a great school. Parents simply will not send their child to a high school that is perceived to be chaotic or unsafe. When the bell rings in your school, is it a suggestion to students or an absolute? What do the hallways, bathrooms, and the cafeteria look like in your high school? Participants will learn how to eliminate tardiness, drastically reduce vandalism, suspensions, and expulsions while keeping the students smiling and the parents happy. For school leaders. Length: 60 or 90 minute keynote, breakout, or full-day workshop

For more information, contact Carolyn Glascock at or 703-860-7202.