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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

“I always say that being positive doesn’t just make you better; it makes everyone around you better. That’s leadership. These guys connect positivity with hard work and a willingness to grow in an effective way. Teachers, principals, business leaders, coaches, and anyone who leads a team can benefit from their message.”

Jon Gordon

“Move over excuses, there is no room for you here. Passionate Leadership will have you looking inward and asking yourself the tough questions to upgrade your impact. This book supports what top performers have understood for ages—all leadership begins with self-leadership.”

Daniel Bauer

“If you are a school leader looking to reignite your passion for the work you do each and every day for your students and staff, then get ready for Passionate Leadership; Creating a Culture of Success in Every School. Authors Salome Thomas-EL, Joseph Jones, and T.J. Vari have teamed up to share their formula for cultivating a vibrant culture by helping you uncover what they call ‘Trip Traps’ and developed an actionable blueprint to help you find your passion again. Each chapter contains practical tips from leaders in the field along with reflective questions to help you focus on the important work you do.”

Jimmy Casas

“In my travels to schools around the world, there is no doubt in my mind that the most successful teachers and principals succeed because they are passionate about their students and communities. In Passionate Leadership, the authors empower readers with fresh ways to recapture their passion, build strong school cultures, and embrace the power of positive celebrations. This is a must read for every educator.”

Manny Scott

Passionate Leadership shows us how classroom, school, and district leaders can tap into their passions and evolve as educators, all in the name of promoting the success of students. The blueprint to success in the educational world can be found in this inspirational book.”

Brad Currie

Passionate Leadership is the book every school leader should be sure to get their hands on to spread the hunger for learning throughout their school communities. This book is full of ideas from experienced leaders who share how they support their school cultures and help even the most struggling educators thrive and succeed.”

Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Passionate Leadership is the spark that will ignite your flame for the work you do and turn it into a fire! Salome, Joseph and T.J. provide practical resources, examples and actionable steps you can use tomorrow. Wherever you are in the journey, Passionate Leadership will provide a light to lead the way.”

Jessica Cabeen

“Passionate Leadership: Creating a Culture of Success in Every School is a book that will inspire, energize, and rejuvenate educators serving in any teaching and leadership role. It will both challenge you to become even better while also validating all the good you are currently doing. It is a
book written by practitioners with documented track records of success. The stories, ideas, tips, and strategies contained within this book serve as a road map for continuous improvement and creating a culture in which all stakeholders invest in each other—most importantly, the students they serve. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for passionate educators everywhere who truly wish to make a difference in our profession.”

Jeffrey Zoul

“This is an uplifting, practical, and inspirational guide for leaders, regardless your title! It gives insights and guidance for new leaders and new fuel for the experienced educators. The real vignettes from current leaders remind us of the importance of our work and gives us all something to build upon! Great messages all around, from the heart of leaders, to the heart of leaders.”

Derek McCoy

“Masterfully written and destined to ignite systemic change. Passionate Leadership includes some of the best vignettes from the field I’ve ever read. This book is a blueprint for creating the conditions required to learn. The authors thoughtfully address all the moving parts of passionate leadership using technical tips and clear take-aways to inspire change. Passionate Leadership is the perfect blend of research and inspiration.”

Brad Gustafson

Salome Thomas-EL

Dr. Salome Thomas-EL has been a teacher and principal in Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE since 1987. He is currently the Head of School at Thomas Edison Public Charter School in Wilmington, DE. Thomas-EL received national acclaim as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School, where his students have gone on to win world recognition as Eight-Time National Chess Champions. Principal EL was a regular contributor on “The Dr. Oz Show” and the author of the best-selling books, I Choose to Stay and The Immortality of Influence (Foreword by Will Smith). The Walt Disney Company optioned the movie rights to I Choose to Stay. Thomas-EL... More About Author

Joseph M. Jones Sr.

Joseph Jones, Ed.D. is the Superintendent of the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District in Delaware. Joe is a former high school social studies teacher, assistant principal, and principal. As principal, he was named the Delaware Secondary Principal of the Year and during his tenure, Delcastle Technical High School was the first high school to receive the state’s Outstanding Academic Achievement Award. He received his doctorate from the University of Delaware in educational leadership and was awarded the outstanding doctoral student award of his class. Currently, Joe works closely with local and state leaders on student... More About Author

T.J. Vari

T.J. Vari, Ed.D. is the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools and District Operations in the Appoquinimink School District in Delaware. He is a former middle school assistant principal and principal and former high school English teacher and department chair. His master’s degree is in School Leadership and his doctorate is in Innovation and Leadership where he accepted an Award for Academic Excellence given to one doctoral student per graduating class. He holds several honors and distinctions, including his past appointment as President of the Delaware Association for School Administrators, his work with the Delaware Association... More About Author

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