Stay up-to-date on the most important issues in school leadership with this podcast series, School Leader’s Review. Check back often for updates and new discussions and interviews.

Listen to the most recent School Leader’s Review podcasts, featuring school leaders from the 2013 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools, here.

Interview with Head of School Mickey Landry
2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School Head of School Mickey Landry discusses how his school overcame the challenges of Hurricane Katrina and earned the state’s top designation as a “Center of Excellence.”

Interview with Principal Thomas Dodd 
2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School principal Thomas Dodd discusses how Lesher Middle School’s transformation and very survival was built on the belief that in order to ‘break ranks’ every adult needed to commit to the success of every child.

Interview with Principal Linda Scott
Tucked into the historic South Norfolk section of the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, Oscar Smith is home to a diverse student body of nearly 950 sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Targeting poor academic performance through a data-driven differentiated instruction model, notable progress has been made. The school community has reviewed and refined the numerous changes and supports, collaboratively institutionalizing the processes and procedures that made it possible. Oscar Smith Middle School was recognized as a 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School.

Interview with Principal Rod Lowe
Principal Rod Lowe discusses how through teamwork implementing a highly developed strategic planning process, Vallivue move from the state designation of “Needs Improvement” to “New School” status in four years. Vallivue Middle School was recognized as a 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School.

Interview with Principal Ryan Tomolonis
West Carter Middle School Principal Ryan Tomolonis discusses the ‘no zero’ policy as well as a strong tutorial program offered multiple times during the day that allowed all students to meet state standards and demonstrate significant academic growth. West Carter was recognized as a 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School.

Interview with Principal Skyles A. Calhoun
Woodbridge Middle School’s transformation is a story about strong principal leadership working collaboratively with the entire school staff to teach each student. Listen to leanr more about this 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School.

Helping Your Students Obtain NCAA Eligibility
Nicholas Sproull of the NCAA Eligibility Center reminds principals of three simple things they can do to help streamline the eligibility process for students who aspire to play Division 1 or Division 2 sports. Visit for more information.

Leadership and Learning
The 2011 MetLife-NASSP National Middle Level Principal of the Year Cathy Carnahan of Duniway Middle School in McMinnville, Oregon, discusses how she worked with staff to personalize the school environment, helped foster a collaborative spirit of respect, and leadership lessons she has learned from others.

High Expectations, Dramatic Results
Wesley Taylor, the 2011 MetLife-NASSP National High School Principal of the Year, has high expectations for both teachers and students at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, GA. Listen as he discusses how he worked with staff to personalize the school environment, increase engagement, and foster a culture of collaboration among teachers to achieve dramatic gains in graduation rates and AP participation. 11/9/10 15:16

Taking Risks With Social Media
Once instrumental in blocking social media and the use of “distracting” electronic devices in his school, Erik Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in Bergen County, NJ, has had a change of heart. Sheninger now embraces those tools—and recommends that other principals do the same. He regularly communicates with students and parents through his Twitter and Facebook pages and effectively integrates mobile learning devices into instruction. 10/1/10, 10:18

Breaking Through With a Low-SES Population
MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School Principal Judith Marty of Mater Academy Charter School in Hialeah Gardens, FL, discusses the importance of analyzing data, bringing parents into the process, and—most important—being present in classrooms regularly. Read more about Mater Academy in the May 2010 issue of Principal Leadership magazine. 7/27/10, 7:29

Maximizing Common Planning Time
Winner of the Dr. Ted Sizer Middle Level Dissertation Award, Richard Drolet, principal of North Cumberland (RI) Middle School, discusses how middle level principals can properly prepare and train their teachers to use more common planning time—and to help them make the most of the time allotted. 6/2/10, 13:14

Excelling With a Diverse Student Population
Principal Virginia Minshew of Park View High School in Sterling, VA, talks about how her 1,300-student school has overcome the challenges of poverty and diversity to exceed all expectations by meeting AYP and by producing significant, ongoing upward trends on state testing. Park View has been honored as a 2010 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School. 5/11/10, 15:47

Diversity and Equity in Today’s Schools
Judith Richardson, NASSP director of diversity, equity, and urban initiatives, discusses what diversity and equity mean in today’s schools and the kinds of tools principals need in schools that are increasingly diverse. 4/1/09, 7:39

Sen. Al Franken Speaks to Priority of Principal Bill
NASSP Executive Director Gerald N. Tirozzi interviews Sen. Al Franken about his recently introduced bill, the Principal Recruitment and Training Act, and the prospect of ESEA reauthorization. 3/4/10, 6:57

A Conversation with ED’s new School-Safety Chief Kevin Jennings
We’ve made great strides in the reduction of violent incidents in public schools over the years. But for new U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools Kevin Jennings, safety means much more than just the assence of violence. In this interview Jennings discusses his priorities as the safe-schools chief in the Obama administration and how those priorities fit into the administration’s school-improvement agenda. 12/2/09, 10:25

The Missing “M” in ESEA
On the heels of the reintroduction of the Success in the Middle Act, NASSP’s Patti Kinney speaks to the need of this important legislation and why the nation can no longer afford to leave out the middle level. 8/21/09 10:39

Secretary Duncan Addresses School Leaders 
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for a cadre of “warrior principals” for our nation’s neediest schools during his remarks to the leaders of the state and national principals organizations at the 2009 National Leaders’ Conference. 7/19/09, 33:31

School Preparation for an H1N1 Outbreak
NASSP’s Mel Riddile reports on a briefing at the U.S. Department of Education that made it clear that schools will play a central role in the dissemination of information and immunization of students for the anticipated outbreak of H1N1 flu. 8/10/09, 11:57

Managing the H1N1 Outbreak at Ground Zero
Principal Rick Herrig didn’t know what would hit him when he took the reins of an American school in Mexico City. His discussion of the experience of managing the H1N1 (swine) flu outbreak holds lessons for school leaders everywhere. 6/15/09, 10:28

Asst. Principal of the Year Melissa Shindel on Professional Growth
2009 NASSP-Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year Melissa Shindel discusses how she makes professional growth and instructional leadership her priorities in a job that often emphasizes management and student discipline. 4/14/09, 7:31

The Breaking Ranks Change Process
NewsLeader editor Sarah McKibben speaks with NASSP director of program services John Nori about the latest book in the Breaking Ranks series, Breaking Ranks: A Field Guide for Leading Change and the process that moves schools beyond structural change to deeper, sustained improvements. 2/25/09, 13:30

Personalizing the School for All Students: A Conversation with Debbie Phelps
Debbie Phelps is probably best known as the mother of greatest Olympian of all time. But to the 600 students at Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, MD, she is Mrs. Phelps, the principal. In this podcast, Debbie discusses the wisdom she has gained from the experience of raising a son with ADHD, how that has influenced her as a principal, and her new support network for parents of kids with ADHD ( 12/8/08, 14:24.

Election Day School Safety
Is your school a polling place on election day? School safety expert Ken Trump offers tips for principals who must open their doors to voters on November 4. 10/14/08 15:11

Doug Reeves on Breaking Down Barriers to Teacher Leadership
Doug Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning Center, identifies the three Bs–blame, bureaucracy, and baloney–that often get in the way of effective teacher leadership and provides guidance for how schools can overcome them. (Visit for the complete interview.) 9/15/08, 8:02.

Principals Take the Lead for Greener Schools
Assistant Principal Aaron Steinly discusses the new initiative, Principals for Change (, he and his colleagues launched to promote the greening of U.S. schools. Steinly offers tips for what principals can do right now to make their schools more energy efficient. 8/27/08, 8:15. 

The High School Principal’s Priorities
Mel Riddile, 2006 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year and new NASSP associate director for high school services, discusses the greatest challenges facing high school principals today and the primacy of literacy as a “gateway skill.” 8/15/08, 10:18.

True Collaborative Leadership with Carolyn Custard, Finalist for the 2009 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year Award
At C.D. Hylton Senior High School in Woodbridge, VA, Carolyn Custard has a Principal’s Advisory Council composed of faculty, students, and parents that represent the school population and help to make sure the school is meeting the needs of the entire school family. 8/11/08, 10:47.

Building Leadership Capacity with Professional Development
As principal of Killingly Intermediate School, in Dayville, CT, Sheryl Kempain, finalist for the 2009 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year award, provides a plethora of professional development opportunities for her staff to build their leadership capacity. She has brought in high profile speakers, taken groups to conferences, and helped to train staff members to increase student achievement. How does she do it? She’ll tell you. 8/11/08, 11:07.

Educating Students who Live in Poverty
A discussion with Ray Landers, principal at Boaz Middle School in Boaz, AL, and finalist for the 2009 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year award, about the reform efforts he has implemented at his school to reach students from low socio-economic backgrounds. 8/11/08, 9:52.

The Hybrid Schedule
Mark Wilson, finalist for the 2009 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year award, and his staff at Morgan County High School in Madison, GA, have been able to close the achievement gap by radically altering the schedule to create a more personalized learning environment. 08/11/08, 8:11.

Increasing the Graduation Rate
The graduation rate at Eisenhower High School in Yakima, WA, has grown from 68% to 88% because of the atmosphere of leadership, trust, and teamwork, according to principal Stacey Locke, finalist for the 2009 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year award. In this podcast, she talks about how students are encouraged to complete school, even if it takes them more than four years. It’s working. The extended-time graduation rate at Eishenhower is 97%. 8/11/08, 13:29.

Showing Middle Level Students the Path to College
Pat Schmidt, principal of Hopkins North Junior High School in Minnetonka, MN, and finalist for the 2009 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year award, discusses how her school has helped students to see the path to college. She also talks about the process of reforming her school, or as she says, turning the cruiseship. 8/11/08, 12:14.

Reducing Ninth Grade Failure Rates in Urban Schools
Urban schools continue to fall short in yielding immediate and continued increases in ninth to tenth grade promotion rates, according to the results of Lynnell Theard Gibson’s research. Gibson was selected as the 2008 NASSP High School Dissertation Award winner for her research on the challenges educators face in working with ninth grade transition programs. The complete text of her dissertation is available at 6

Leading for Student Achievement
The effective analysis and use of data significantly impacts a school’s ability to improve student achievement. Linda W. Robinson is an educational consultant and former president of National Middle School Association. Leading for Student Achievement was the third workshop in the Middle Level Leadership Series. 3/2008, 9:56.

Leading for Professional Conversations
Directly linked to the establishment of a highly effective collaborative culture is the school leader’s ability to facilitate ongoing professional conversations . Nancy Doda is a professional development consultant and an outstanding educator who lead a workshop on this topic as part of the Middle Level Leadership Series. 3/2008, 8:40.

Leading for Differentiation
Differentiation of instruction is a proven strategy for enhancing student achievement. Rick Wormeli, an accomplished teacher, internationally sought after consultant, and prolific author on the topic of middle level education, discusses this topic which was one of the seminars of the Middle Level Leadership Series. 3/2008, 9:49.

Rick Wormeli on the Fallacy of the “Zero” Grade
Education consultant and author Rick Wormeli discusses the fallacy of assigning a grade of zero to students, arguing that a minimum grade of 50 or 60 carries the same message–without making it mathematically impossible for students to bounce back. 5/21/08, 18:45.

The Power of Advisories
Advisories have long been considered a key tool for personalizing schools, and some recent research bears that out. Sarah Brody Shulkind, the 2008 NASSP Middle Level Dissertation Award winner, shares the findings of her research and underscores how much students value advisories–even when advisors themselves might not see the value. The complete text of Shulkind’s dissertation is available at 5/9/08, 21:46.

James Dierke on Leading an Urban Middle School
What does it take to lead an inner-city middle school? Learn the keys to success firsthand from James Dierke, principal at Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, CA, and 2008 MetLife/NASSP National Middle Level Principal of the Year. Dierke is interviewed by Patti Kinney, principal of the NASSP National Center for Middle Level Leadership–and a former national principal of the year. 3/19/08, 21:32.

A Profile of Concurrent Enrollment
Two Utah high school vice principals, Pamela Drake and Scott Nielson, profile their concurrent enrollment partnership programs and highlight the impact they have had on schoolwide academic rigor, particularly for traditionally low-performing populations. 1/25/08, 23:23.

Robert Marzano on Supporting Instruction
Renowned education researcher and author Robert Marzano shares his thoughts on how principals can best support classroom instruction and discusses the phases in a process for systematically improving teaching and learning schoolwide. 11/26/07, 17:34.

Improving Schoolwide Numeracy
A discussion with Judith Richardson, the author of Making the Mathematics Curriculum Count, about improving mathematical literacy, or numeracy, at the middle and high school levels. 10/30/07, 7:28.

Key Findings from “A Voice in the Middle” Poll of Middle Level Students
In May 2007, NASSP and Phi Delta Kappa International released the first-ever nationwide poll of students in middle level schools, called “A Voice from the Middle,” to gauge young adolescents’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations and they prepare for high school and beyond. In this interview, NASSP Director of Instructional Leadership Resources John Nori discusses the poll’s findings. 5/31/07, 14:56.

Leading Community Schools
Jason Dial, principal of William Chrisman High School in Independence, MO, and Carlos Azcoitia, founding principal of Spry Community School in Chicago, IL, demystify the role of the principal in leading a community school. Both schools and their districts have been recognized with Community Schools National Awards for Excellence. 9/5/07, 23:33.

Transforming Your School’s Culture
Transforming a school’s culture is the principal’s greatest challenge, yet it’s essential to any real improvement in schoolwide achievement. Robert D. Ramsey, author of Don’t Teach the Canaries Not to Sing: Creating a School Culture That Boosts Achievement, points to some key strategies for identifying and adjusting a school’s culture and underscores the importance of principal leadership if any real improvement is to take place.