“Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast with William D. Parker”

“Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast With William D. Parker” is a proverbial cornucopia of leadership insights focused primarily on education and the principalship. With more than 300 episodes to date, this podcast features interviews and discussions with a variety of education leaders. Many of the episodes, such as #279: “Support, Empower, Engage with Chris Jones,” the principal of Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in Whitman, MA, and #297: “Applying the Strangest Secret with Daniel Bauer,” author of the book, Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader, are a unique and refreshing blend of practical advice and philosophical insight that will “get the wheels turning” for any school leader, regardless of their level of responsibility. The former principal of Skiatook High School in Skiatook, OK, Parker is the executive director for the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals and the Oklahoma Middle Level Education Association. Now in his tenth year of content creation (which also includes blog posts and three books), Parker has created a digital destination at williamdparker.com for education leaders to visit regularly and sharpen their leadership skills. If it matters to a principal, then chances are, you can find it within “Principal Matters.”

—Bill Ackerman
Principal, Eastern York Middle School, Wrightsville, PA

“ExtraOrdinary Districts in Extraordinary Times” Podcast

In “ExtraOrdinary Districts in Extraordinary Times,” Karin Chenoweth, the author of Districts That Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement, interviews educators about their challenges and the need for creative solutions to ensure the success of all students. Following each interview, Chenoweth and Tanji Reed Marshall, The Education Trust’s director of p–12 practice, discuss the episode in an attempt to find commonalities among educators across the country. Now in its fifth season, the podcast continues to center on the pandemic’s effects on education in America—specifically how education leaders have allocated and spent $189 billion in federal relief funds. As expected, funds have mainly gone toward mitigation efforts including masks and ventilation systems, but several districts have also used the money to fill in gaps where traditional funding has fallen short (e.g., purchasing new curriculum and hiring staff). In season 5, episode 2, Tricia McManus, the superintendent of Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, says her district is using the money to address pressing needs brought on by the pandemic and to invest in the future. “I don’t believe we’ll ever have this opportunity again. This is a lot of money and we have got to be able to show results.”

—Nicole J. LeClaire
Principal, Kenesaw Jr/Sr High School, Kenesaw, NE

To Lead Is To Teach: Stories and Strategies From the Classroom to the Boardroom

In To Lead Is To Teach: Stories and Strategies From the Classroom to the Boardroom (Proving Press), longtime educator Jim Mahoney takes us on a chronological journey through his career with anecdotes that help us understand how teaching and leading are one and the same. Although content knowledge and technical skill vary from teacher to teacher and leader to leader, they must all motivate, engage, and energize others to successfully teach and lead. Readers will find Part II of the book, “Life Lessons Learned,” especially enlightening, as the author shares what he calls “the Mahoney Three” (practical lessons that apply to leaders in any field—not just in education). These lessons focus on setting expectations, building relationships, empowering people, communicating effectively, inspecting (following up), modeling (practicing what you preach), and evaluating. Before trying to embark on major change, Mahoney suggests that leaders first create safe spaces for staff discussion. Then they can focus on what he refers to as “initiating, implementing, and institutionalizing,” change. No matter what changes school leaders make, however, Mahoney is clear about one thing: They should never forget what it’s like to be a teacher.

—Holly Langley
Assistant Principal, Sussex Technical High School, Georgetown, DE

Lead From Where You Are: Building Intention, Connection, and Direction in Our Schools

A timely text by Dr. Joe Sanfelippo, Lead From Where You Are: Building Intention, Connection, and Direction in Our Schools (Impress) provides practical strategies for a seasoned school leader or a newly minted one. “Leadership is about finding people’s why and helping them to build from that point,” writes Sanfelippo, the superintendent of the Fall Creek School District in Fall Creek, WI. His book seeks to engage leaders at all levels through the themes of intention, direction, and connection. Sanfelippo explains that by leading through intention, a school leader enables the abilities of others versus enabling those around them to rely on the leader to strengthen their organizations. By being intentional, leaders also provide direction based on a communal “why” bolstered through data collection to pinpoint areas of future growth. As a result, connections begin to form within a leader’s team. Ultimately, this book offers school leaders a practical approach to rekindling human connections in a post-COVID era. As Sanfelippo reminds us, it is not if we will be remembered as leaders, but how we lead that will be remembered.

—Brian Cox
Principal, Johnson Junior High School, Cheyenne, WY