Leadership at the Center2018-10-18T13:46:52-04:00

Leadership at the Center is written primarily by Center executive director Richard Lemons.  Through this
blog, Richard will share resources, tools, and research relevant to leading organizations, prompting
large-scale instructional improvement, and disrupting inequity.  Leading at the Center will also share
updates on the work of the CT Center for School Change and provide vignettes of leading practice across
the state and nation.

In Honor of Dudley Williams, Model of Public Service

On May 21, 2021, Dudley Williams, Board Chair of the CT Center for School Change, died after a long battle with cancer.

Dudley was a consummate leader, guiding the Center’s board with grace, seriousness, humor, and vision.  Under his leadership, the Center transitioned between two Executive Directors, expanded its reach, and deepened its impact.  It is an understatement to note that Dudley was respected and beloved by his fellow board members and Center staff.

Beyond the Center, Williams was CEO […]

May 26th, 2021|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community

Last Tuesday, eight people lost their lives in three Atlanta-area shootings.  The victims’ names are Delania Ashley Yaun, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.

Six of the victims were of Asian descent. 

This mass murder has captured media coverage, but violence and harassment of Asian Americans is not new.  According to the Stop AAPI Hate Project, 3,800 anti-Asian bias incidents were […]

March 22nd, 2021|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Looking Beyond the Pandemic

Events of the last year have many of us contemplating the future of public education.  This is both healthy and necessary.  A year into the pandemic, we’ve learned much about both technology and the centrality of schools in the lives of young people.  But “returning to school” or “embracing instructional technology” in a post-COVID world is a rather limiting frame for considering our work ahead. 

Before and through the pandemic, myriad and related forces were launched or […]

March 1st, 2021|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Thank you, Richard, for everything.

In Memoriam:  Richard F. Elmore (1953-2021)

Last Wednesday, the field of education lost one of its most energetic champions as well as one of its most insightful and constructive critics.  Richard F. Elmore, retired professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, passed away last week, leaving behind a rich and lasting legacy.

Among his many contributions to the field is one that is rather immediate for some of us in Connecticut.  Two decades ago, he accepted an […]

February 18th, 2021|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Making Sense of It All

It is June 3, 2020.  Days into protests across the nation and world, human beings are angry, confused, frustrated, and in pain.[i]

Today I sat down to pen a statement on behalf of CT Center for School Change, but I struggled.

During the last several days, I’ve used writing as a source of sense-making, a way of puzzling through my thoughts and feelings.   Writing has proven useful, though difficult.  My thoughts are jumbled.  My feelings are in flux.   […]

June 3rd, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Myths of the Pandemic: Education and Schooling in the Context of COVID-19

Over the last several weeks, I’ve partnered with numerous districts, schools and leadership networks.  I’ve watched and listened carefully as they make sense of the pandemic and its impact on schooling.  And as the father of two teenagers, I’ve watched my own district plan and re-plan how they will best meet student needs in a distance learning reality.

Simultaneously, I’ve watched the media, community members, and pundits discuss the pandemic’s impact on schools.   As I’ve listened, I’ve heard and […]

April 28th, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Leading Distance Learning: Lessons from Virtual Principals and Research

School leadership matters, and though it can come from different sources and be distributed across the organization, we know that school administrators are essential for creating a school vision, supporting high-quality teaching and learning, developing educator capacity, fostering a strong culture, and driving improvement. Over the past few decades, thousands of articles and books have been written on the essential elements and practices of effective instructional leadership.

And, seemingly overnight, the context of all that research changed. The old […]

March 27th, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

No Miracles in Learning Guitar or Improving Schools

Inspired by the music lessons my daughter and son were taking a few years back, I decided to pick up guitar.   In that first year I made steady progress under the tutelage of a guitar aficionado half my age.  I built greater finger strength and dexterity, developed a modest sense of music theory, learned my way around the fingerboard, and locked certain songs into muscle memory.  Unfortunately, my teacher then moved out of the state.

I still play guitar.  […]

January 27th, 2020|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Tipping Point or Temporary Uptick: Observations on District Equity Efforts in CT and Across the US

On November 16, 2019, I had the honor to co-present at the annual CABE/CAPSS Convention with three remarkable educators on the topic of equity efforts in Naugatuck, CT.  Superintendent Sharon Locke, Naugatuck Board Vice Chairperson Ethel Grant, and partner/consultant Kathy Turner told a compelling story of the intentional efforts to create a culture of equity.  It is a remarkable tale, and I hope they continue to share this important story so that others can benefit from the lessons […]

December 12th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

Making your Mediocre Strategy Matter:  Strategic Implementation

I’d much rather you implement a mediocre strategy well than a “perfect” strategy half-heartedly. 

This may seem like heresy in the modern era of research-based interventions and metanalyses that show effect sizes, but I’ve been saying this to district leaders for years, and I still believe it.   Recently, while facilitating a district back-to-school administrative retreat this August, I was asked to say more about the idea.  Since it is early September, and district and school leaders are busy […]

September 10th, 2019|Categories: Leadership at the Center|

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