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K-12 School Leadership Council

Drexel University School of Education

The purpose of the Drexel School Leadership Council (DSLC) is to foster in-depth conversations of various educational topics driving education today, while exploring how to transform schools to be agile in understanding the challenges and opportunities in the future. The goal is to foster collaboration between K-12 school leaders from urban, suburban, and rural districts which will create a rich dialogue for sharing ideas, resources, and developing skills to navigate complexities facing educational leaders today and into the future.

DSLC is moderated by Dr. John M. Gould and Dr. Michael G. Kozak. Guest speakers will be featured for different sessions.

Register for DSLC


About the moderators

Dr. John M. Gould has more than 47 years of in-depth experience in the field of education, in which he specialized in issues surrounding systemic change, leadership development, curriculum innovation, and the effective implementation of new technologies in learning environments. His studies and work in these areas are a natural outgrowth of his advanced degrees in education, including both an MS from Duquesne University and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. For the past 10 years, he has served as Clinical Professor at Drexel University and helped co-design the EdD program in Educational Leadership and Change. Dr. Gould is grounded in “systems thinking,” “Theory U,” design thinking and has a strong commitment to the concept of “learning organizations.” The essential question he asks all to consider is: given the rapid changes in social media, medicine, nanotechnology, the environment, and globalization, how do we cope with the need to innovate and design new learning environs for creating a sustainable future for our children?

Dr. Michael G. Kozak has over 30 years in the field of education as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, curriculum supervisor and superintendent of schools. Highlights from his years in education include developing and implementing a major school restructuring, change management resulting in the consolidation of four separate school districts into one regional school district, appearing before state senate and assembly educational committees to successfully lobby for increased school state aid, improving student academic performance, fostering positive learning climates and cultures, integrating technology throughout the curriculum, and improving student learning in a lower socio-economic urban setting through major academic initiatives, including data-driven instruction, guided reading, instructional coaches in reading and math and enhanced professional development for teachers. Dr. Kozak utilizes a framework of systems thinking, innovative and creative approaches to instruction and leadership, learning organizations and leading change. His challenge to emerging leaders is to help design a learning environment to meet the needs of learners and organizations disrupted by changes in education, organizations, governance, work environments, and yet-to-be-determined careers.

2020-21 Program Schedule

September 15, 2020 -- Leading in a Time of Disruption

This session’s focus will look at how the pandemic is changing the “normal routines” of a school and what the leadership mindset needs to be in confronting the uncertainties of this time. The presentation/discussion will look at each participant’s thinking related to how they perceive their capacity in leading their building during these disrupted times. The activities will include an introduction to regenerative and systems thinking and activities they can use in their buildings.

October 20, 2020 – Developing Family and Community Partnerships in a Time of Disruption

Building on September’s content, the October session will focus on developing networks with family and community members within the boundaries of your school building. Presenters from Drexel’s school of public health will lead the discussion of how principals can create networks with communities and families focused on nurturing the social-emotional health of students and staff.

November 17, 2020– Building Staff Capacity in Dealing with Disruptive Change (Part 1)

This first session on staff capacity building will help principals expand their personal capacity to create a school environment which encourages all its members to develop themselves toward the goals and purposes needed to change the daily “habits of behavior” in order to develop robust learning environments for all students. This session will link to activities presented in the September session with a focus on creating new instructional strategies linked to new schedules that are developing and how technological tools can enhance the outcomes to the response of the pandemic. How can curriculum change but still maintain adherence to state requirements will be a focus of the discussion.

January 19, 2021-- Building Staff Capacity in Dealing with Disruptive Change (Part 2)

This session will focus on how a principal need to understand the concepts of physical space and place within their building to accommodate change. A panel of architects will discuss how to accommodate curricular and instructional changes within one’s building.

February 16, 2021– How Social Justice Impact Your Work as a Principal

This session will explore the impact of a principal’s thinking and mindset related to social justice and their leadership role. How one’s social identity may be reflected in worldview, assumptions, values, beliefs and action related to culture and knowledge, diversity, equity, and social/ecological justice. The participants will explore how one communicate values, intentionally and unintentionally, to others; interrogate educational issues through a variety of frameworks that reveal the nature and complexities of contemporary social problems; and, theoretical frameworks related to power, privilege, equity, and social/ecological justice and their impact on your building leadership.

March 16, 2021– Understanding the Nature of Special Needs Populations

The first part of this session will explore the legal mandates and the structure special education law and its impact on your leadership capacity within the building. The second part of this session will explore the types of learning environments that are needed to accommodate the learning needs of special needs students. A particular focus will be on the use of technologically enhanced learning tools and gaming technologies.

April 20, 2021– Enhancing the Learning Environment for All Students

This session will help principals to explore emerging learning environments including project-based learning (PBL), individualized instruction, team-teaching, interdisciplinary teams, teaching entrepreneurship in a K-12 environment, and creating Makerspaces and STEAM learning environments. This exploration will be in the context of all the concepts develop in the previous session.

May 18, 2021– What Does the Future Hold for the Education of our Children?

The final session of the year will explore both short-term and long-term trend from outside the school environment. It is designed to get principals to understand the need to look beyond the “walls” of the school in order to lead schools in the direction that will ensure each student will have a sustainable future.