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Passionate Leadership

Passionate Leadership
Creating a Culture of Success in Every School

First Edition
  • Salome Thomas-EL - Head of School, Thomas Edison Charter School
  • Joseph Jones - Superintendent, New Castle County Vocational Technical School District
  • T.J. Vari - Assistant Superintendent, Appoquinimink School District

Foreword by Todd Whitaker

June 2019 | 216 pages | Corwin

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Reignite your passion for serving children!

Have you fallen into a rut? Has your position become simply a “role” or a “job?” The authors of this book will remind you why education, the most important profession in our society, demands passionate leadership.

Passionate Leadership is an aspiring call to action for teachers and principals around the world to recommit to passionately serving children, building the communities children deserve, and celebrating our successes. Take ownership, push to new heights, and break old boundaries by following the strategies in this book. Discover

  • Practical ideas and suggestions for how to serve as a beacon of hope in the field
  • First-hand experiences from enthusiastic leaders modeling what passionate leadership looks like
  • Charts and graphs that will help you assess your strong points and identify areas you can improve on

Student success and growth begin with leaders who commit to taking courageous action!


Acknowledgments and Dedication
About the Authors
Introduction: Fueling the Passion in Our Schools
Chapter 1: A Learning Culture, Not a Teaching Culture
Everyone Works to Learn

Unintended Consequences

An Aligned System of Improvement

Growth From the Inside Out

Quality Levels of Support

Support and Growth Through Feedback

Leadership: Choosing Your Direction

Charting the Difference

Fueling Passion Through Opportunity

A Culture of Joy and Fulfillment

Creating A Learning Culture by Design: Commitment and Desire

Chapter 2: Developing the Desire for Change to Grow Faster
Speeding Up the Process

Feedback Faster: Creating Systems of Improvement

Systematizing PD and Feedback

Defining the Outcomes

Something for Everyone

Technical Tip #1: Everyone Gets a Personal Growth Plan

Technical Tip #2: Hire for a Growth Mindset

Chapter 3: The Wonder of a Work Ethic
Everyone Contributes

Everyone Means Everyone

Break the Cycle of Failure

Embrace an I Believe Attitude

Leadership: Choosing Your Direction

Charting the Difference

Empower Student Ownership by Creating New Opportunities

A Culture Where Everyone Is Connected and Leadership Matters

Creating a Community of Support by Design: Networking and Storytelling

Chapter 4: Stronger Backs, Not Lighter Loads
A Contribution is Mandatory

Making a Mark: The Best Ways to Make an Impact

Systematizing Strengths

Defining the Roles and Naming the Positions

Everybody Makes a Difference

Technical Tip #1: Survey for Strengths, Hobbies, and Fun Projects

Technical Tip #2: Hiring Contributors

Chapter 5: Committing to a Culture of Celebration
The Power of Connection

The Revolving Door

You Can’t Lift Anything Up While You’re Pushing It Down

There’s More Than One Way to Define Success

Leadership: Choosing Your Direction

Charting the Difference

Know Where You’re Going, How to Get There, and if You’re in the Right Vehicle

A Culture of Celebration

Creating a Positive Culture by Design: Recognition and Understanding

Chapter 6: Positive Educators Ignite the System
Celebrate Like You Mean It

Two Data Treasure Troves: Create Short-Term Wins Through Goal-Setting

Systematizing Celebrations

Defining What and Why We Celebrate

Diversifying the Who

Technical Tip #1: Building the Budget to Celebrate

Technical Tip #2: Hiring Positive People

Conclusion: A Blueprint for Sustaining Passion in Our Schools

Passionate Leadership: Creating a Culture of Success in Every School is a callto-action that will inspire every leader to rekindle, grow, and sustain their passion for education. Jones, Thomas-EL, and Vari share stories, research, and examples that will compel you to act in powerful ways to serve your school community and to overcome obstacles. Schools are meant to be environments that spark abundant passion; fueling a culture that ignites the desire to be a lifelong learner, resulting in growth. We want our schools to foster a learning culture where every individual is wholeheartedly committed to advancing, and this book will support you in your journey. Filled with actionable ideas, Passionate Leadership is one you’ll return to in your pursuit to continuously improve, while simultaneously transforming lives.”

Elisabeth Bostwickn

“As I visit hundreds of schools and districts across the U.S. and Canada every year, I share my passion for kids and respect anyone who has that same passion! This book is a great manual for those who want to reignite their passion for this work!”

Robert Jackson

“If you’re looking to make meaningful and lasting changes in your classroom, school building or district, Passionate Leadership is the right book for you. The authors Jones, Thomas-EL, and Vari address possible pitfalls and how to avoid them. With all the great leadership books available, leaders should choose Passionate Leadership because it will inspire action from reflection to make real change.”

Starr Sackstein
West Hempstead Union Free Schools

“Education is the engine of a great society and effective leadership is the fuel! This book conceptualizes leadership passion in a way that is accessible to anyone with the desire to lead a school to greatness. The framework provided in this book is sound, practical, and relevant to school leaders at
all levels. This book is a must read for those genuinely concerned about improving school effectiveness.”

Anthony Muhammad, PhD Author and educational consultant

“As a district leader, principal, and instructional coach, I have always been passionate about my work with and for educators and students. The work for children and the battles that administrators and educators face at the frontline are so important that we need to continue to ignite our passion for building positive school cultures. In Passionate Leadership, the authors do a great job of inspiring us all to reflect on the impact we make on our students and schools each day. If you want to become a better educator or leader for your students, you must read this book!”

Dr. Rosa Isiah
Norwalk La Mirada USD

“Through research, real examples, and powerful reflection Salome Thomas-EL, Joseph Jones, and T.J. Vari have created an invaluable road map for leaders to better serve the children that are entrusted in our care each day. The authors help us to recognize the common obstacles that get
in the way of high levels of learning and instead build bridges to success for ALL students. Through the pages of Passionate Leadership: Creating a Culture of Success in Every School you will find inspiration, motivation, and a drive to be the best leader that you can be. It is a resource I wish I had as I started my leadership journey and I highly recommend it to all educators.”

Beth Houf
Fulton Middle School

“Education leaders, listen up! Whatever book you’re reading right now, put it down, and pick this book up right away. This book is not just for principals or administrators—it’s for any passionate person who works with and leads students. We are ALL leaders. As the 2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year and advocate for kids everywhere, I cannot give Passionate Leadership: Creating a Culture of Success in Every School high enough praise. This book will hook you from the very first page, as it includes passionate real-life scenarios from leaders still in schools, immediate takeaways to use in your schools tomorrow, and tools to reshape your thinking. It’s one of those books you will highlight, underline, fill with sticky-notes, and come back to time and time again. Teaching and leading are far from easy, and this book is just the positive pickme- up you need to reignite or reaffirm the passion burning within you.”

Kayla Delzer

“Passion is about vision and the guiding principles that fuel our work with teachers, students, and families. It is also about the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm that we demonstrate in our daily work, which inspires others to join and identify with our vision. Rarely is someone inspired by a leader who lacks passion for their work. School improvement is not easy, but when we bring our passion for change and growth, we can overcome even the most difficult circumstances. If we are going to build the capacity to do the work that needs to be done in every school, we must ignite a coalition to support students and families in new and different ways. Passionate Leadership provides the formula for all of us to create the commitment we need to work together, collectively, for the success that we all know is possible within our current educational systems around the world.”

Amber Teamann
Wylie ISD, Texas

“Student learning is a relationship between teachers and learners. In order to foster and grow such learning environments, strong leadership is required. We can no longer operate in transactional spaces that promote silos. Schools are dynamic ecosystems that require transformational, visionary leadership, that is student centered. Passionate Leadership unpacks the complexity of school leadership in an effort to build communities where students, educators, families, and other stakeholders experience success!”

Dorrell Green
Red Clay Consolidated School District

“My entire career as a teacher, school and district leader has been fueled by my passion for our students and schools. My goal has always been to build positive classroom and school cultures that inspire others to care about our profession. Culture is built and cultivated by gaining trust of and building relationships with stakeholders. While positive culture is a feeling you get when walking into a school or classroom, it is intentionally built and grown. In Passionate Leadership, Thomas-EL, Jones, and Vari have written the manual on how we can commit to serving our students and communities in a powerful way. After you read this book, you will feel a spark igniting you to be even more passionate about our kids and their success.”

Jenny Nauman
Cape Henlopen School District
Key features
  • The authors have identified the most common obstacles to passionate leadership (Trip Traps) and how to avoid them
  • Mantras to Live By – guides for a passionate start to every morning
  • The book is written by practitioners for practitioners with examples from the field including 3 inspirational stories and 6 vignettes with key takeaways
  • The authors divide passionate culture into three distinct features and provide easy-to-use charts to identify where cultures are lacking so you can work to improve them.
  • How-To’s that reveal the practical next steps for leaders
  • Tips for hiring practices so that your passionate leadership efforts are sustainable for the future
  • Every chapter ends with Reflection Questions so that you can take inventory and take action right away
  • The authors conclude the book with an action-oriented reflection activity and self-assessment to be used by individuals or teams.

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