Episode 65 to 57

Episode #65: Dave Schmittou (podbean.com)

Episode #65: Dave Schmittou, Ed.D.

Dave Schmittou, Ed.D. is the author of 4 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬, has 4 𝐤𝐢𝐝𝐬, ran 5 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐬, has done 2 ultras, was the 2014 Principal of the Year; 2018 College Educator of the Year and host of the #𝐋𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 podcast, along with being the Director of Leadership & Development at Teach Better Team. Dave is currently a professor of Educational Leadership at Central Michigan University, a former elementary school principal, former middle school principal, assistant principal, coach, and teacher. His books can be purchased on Amazon: “Making Assessment Work”, “Bold Humility”, “It’s Like Riding a Bike” & “Omniscient”.

Out of the Trenches story: Dave says he is living in the trenches right now, digging in, he thinks about WWI, “trench warfare”. We have to take the 1st step, getting out of the trench. Getting up and starting a new day. He says he doesn’t necessarily have a positive mindset. A lot of what’s happened in the world isn’t bringing new problems, it’s giving us the leverage to focus on our vision. He’s using the 2020-21 school year to clarify how he sees himself. He’s finding his own future.

Let’s talk a bit about your running story,


Find Dave online on Twitter: @daveschmittou   IG:  @daveschmittou  visit his Website: www.schmittou.net View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/o8mDju_D7Ws


Four years ago, Steven walked away from his role as an EMS Administrator to join the Black men that made up the 2% of educators in our profession.

Find Steven on Twitter @guptonteaches View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/r7GCCPhCTuI

Episode # 64: Steven Gupton

Steven Gupton is a CTE Teacher at James E. Shepard IB Magnet Middle School in Durham Public Schools. Steven is a son, brother, paramedic, educator, coach, and member of the NCAE Educators of Color Cohort. He has served his community his entire life. In high school, he began volunteering in his local fire department and his love for public service began to grow. 16 years later, he is still going. He believes EVERY child can learn, and he will always fight for those that are underserved and underrepresented.

Out of the trenches story: Steven shares about being the son of an incarcerated male (at 31 still wishes his dad was here). His dad is serving 37 years. He talks about the hidden challenges of incarceration for black, brown, indigenous people of color. He’s talked with his students about that. It’s like the fact he’s an educator being a part of his resume, his dad’s incarceration doesn’t define him. He always shares it, though. He thinks many educators shy away from saying they are human. Start every year with an “I am” poem. 

When did you embrace the fact your dad is incarcerated and come to acceptance? 2 nights after Christmas, he was sitting at his grandparents, a story began to air on TV about his dad.

Episode #63: Tara Linney (podbean.com)

Episode #63: Tara Linney

Tara Linney is an international, award-winning educator who has helped several schools nationally and internationally with launching and sustaining effective 1:1 programs over the course of the last decade. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida, and an M.S. in the Science of Instruction from Drexel University. . In 2015, she was the guest of Congressman Bill Foster for the State of the Union.  In 2016, she received the 21st Century Learning Award for Innovation in Educational Coaching. Since the start of her career in Education, Tara has played an active role in many professional communities. In 2017, she served as the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN President, where she led an organizational pivot to focus on SDGs in Education.

Her understanding of how technology fits in education is vast. In both planning and training, Tara can speak both IT and education technology. In 2018, Tara authored and published the book, Code Equity: Keying Girls into Coding, as a guide for educators looking to make a more equitable learning environment for their students, particularly in the teaching of computer science topics. Her overall mission is to create a culture of equitable learning conditions for learners of all ages.

Tell me about a time you were in the trenches:  First-year teaching. Was in non-profit & marketing arenas for the first 7 years of her career. First-year was working in Philly and received a pink slip at the end of the year. She was working on


Tara holds a certification as an Instructional Technology Specialist & is an ISTE Certified Educator.

Follow Tara online: Twitter & IG, LinkedIn @taralinney and visit her website www.TLspecialists.com


Mark serves as a high school administrator in Newberg, Oregon, where his primary focus and responsibility is centered around school climate and culture.

Find Mark online at his website & Twitter & IG @heymarkbrown. Buy his book “Choose to be You” here. View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/WmwS6uAiTVY

Episode #62: Mark Brown

Mark Brown is an educational leader, leadership and team development facilitator, author, speaker, coach, student, and mental health and wellness advocate.  He is known for his passion and dedication for inspiring others to #ChooseToBeYou by living life as their best self! Mark shares openly about his life experience and how the highs and lows throughout his life have molded him into who he is today.  His goal is to use his experience to encourage others to face their fears and challenges head on, and to learn to love themselves for who they are!

Tell me about a time you were in the trenches: Mark says he is still crawling out every day. As a leader, he has to make a lot of difficult decisions. As a people pleaser, it’s challenging. He struggles with anorexia, it’s a real part of his life. What he’s learned through counseling, therapy, it’s not just about the food, but spills over into other areas of his life. His life has often been consumed by anorexia. It kept him from being who he needed to be. It’s happened over the past 10-11 years. He was in the trenches consumed by desire to please people. He is continuing to climb out. He won’t necessarily get to point where he’s healed.

Tell me about your journey from a struggling high school student to where you are now? He climbed the ladder really quickly, is still pretty young. Title he had on door was what he thought he needed to get credibility.

Episode #61: Jen Cort

Jen Cort is a diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice consultant working with schools and organizations in multiple countries.  As an educator and clinical social worker, Jen has served as an assistant head of lower school, head of a middle school, and senior administrator as well as a counselor in lower, middle and upper schools and private practice.  Her goal is to create spaces where students, and all community members, can be seen and heard while learning to be visible and use their voices in productive ways. 

Jen has presented at national conferences, hosts a diversity institute, is a frequent contributor to publications, and her work has been quoted in the Washington Post, and New York Times. Jen is the host of an internationally syndicated podcast  “Third Space With Jen Cort”

Jen has several trench stories: She talked about when she was the principal at a MS, had interns from deaf university & kids had been taught hand motions. Jen saw a student at the other end of the hallway. He looked tense, Jen asked how he was doing and said she had a meeting to go to. Before school opened the next day, his mom was there, was furious. She was understandably upset and Jen admitted what she did was wrong.  She wanted to make it OK for the student & his mom. She said she did see him and could tell what had happened. She came up with a strategy, when you think you have heard or saw something, respond, don’t limit it to just hearing but not responding. She wants students & parents to be in partnership with her. Another the week of recording, she used wrong label “gender” instead of “sex” during diversity class.


As the founder of Jen Cort Consulting, Jen works with groups to create sustainable and systemic change and to live out their missions regarding diversity and inclusion.

Find Jen online on Twitter: @JenCortEdCon    IG: @jencortedcon     FB: @JenCortConsulting  Website: www.jencort.com View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/nx8E7OGmQGY


Ken is the former principal of The Learning Academy at E. J. Swint in Jonesboro, Georgia, and Damascus Elementary School in Damascus, Maryland.

To learn more about Ken’s work, visit Unfold The Soul online at www.unfoldthesoul.com, and follow @unfoldthesoul on FB, Twitter or email him. View this episode on Youtube: https://youtu.be/ZhLOscM0HNY

Episode #60: Ken Williams

Kenneth C. Williams shares his experience and expertise as a nationally recognized trainer, speaker, coach and consultant in leadership and school culture. A practitioner for nearly two decades, Ken led the improvement efforts at two schools by leveraging the Professional Learning Communities at Work process. Skilled in joining the why of the work to the how of the work, Ken is known for his powerful and engaging combinations of “heart, humor, and hammer.” He is an expert at helping schools build capacity in the collective commitments required of learning for all cultures. His firsthand experience with transforming challenged schools translates into action-oriented presentations that inspire hope, create a clear vision, and offer practical strategies to those overwhelmed by challenges.  He is the author of Starting A Movement: Building Culture from the Inside Out in Professional Learning Communities, Creating Physical and Emotional Safety In Schools, and a contributor to The Collaborative Administrator. 

His leadership was crucial to creating a successful professional learning community (PLC) at Damascus, a challenged school that needed a new direction. The results of his efforts can be seen across all grade levels. Over a two-year period, the school’s state standardized test scores revealed a significant increase in the percentage of students performing at proficient and advanced levels. The process of building a PLC at E. J. Swint continues thanks to Kenneth’s work in laying a solid foundation in this underserved community. Ken earned a bachelor of arts from Morehouse College, and a master of science from the University of Bridgeport.

Episode #59: Jim Sporleder

Jim Sporleder retired in 2014 as Principal of Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA.  Under Jim’s leadership, Lincoln High School became a “Trauma Informed” school, gaining national attention due to a dramatic drop in out of school suspensions, increased graduation rates and the number of students going on to post-secondary education.  These dramatic changes at Lincoln caught the attention of Jamie Redford, who spent a year filming the documentary, Paper Tigers, which tells the Lincoln story. The documentary was released at the May 2015. His travels have taken him all over the United States. Jim is married, has three daughters and six granddaughters.

Tell me about a time when you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: Jim asked to be transferred from the middle school dream principal job he had and was about to retire. He had read a report on alternative programs in the district and realized he should get over there to help the kids. His wife mentioned “why don’t you go?”. He realized he needed to transfer. Asked superintendent to transfer him. Started at Lincoln in 2007, it was mostly out of control, h didn’t understand how out of control it was there until he got there. There were gang fights, it was very unsafe, and a spark turned into forest fire. Was trying to gain control, create a safe environment. It was difficult getting to be accepted by the kids. He wondered if he’d made the right decision. He was in a trench for 4-5 months. Then kids started to accept him. He was very student-oriented throughout career. He had a saying “cuff ‘em and stuff ‘em”; is embarrassed to say it now. It took 3 years till he felt safe enough to go to the conference (that he could leave the building for a day or 2) and was introduced to ACES and it totally transformed him. John Medina was the keynote speaker.


Jim is currently working as a trauma-informed coach/consultant as well as a trainer with the Children’s Resilience Initiative, based in Walla Walla.

Find Jim online at: Jimsporlederconsulting.com On Twitter @Sporlin, LinkedIn and on FB. View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/YIO4SnIUPfs


As the author of the book and founder of the business with the same name: Trust-Based Observations, Craig’s goal is to transform the world of teacher observation and evaluation

Find Craig online via his website: www.trustbased.com, email: craig@trustbased.com Linkedin: @CraigRandall Twitter: @trustbasedcraig

View this episode on Youtube: https://youtu.be/lmesGXneM4I

Episode #58: Craig Randall

Craig Randall received his Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Washington, his Master’s in Education in Guidance and Counseling from Saint Martin’s University, and his principal certification from Western Washington University. Craig has worked as an elementary and middle school counselor, including one intense year in the classroom with students with severe behavior issues. In addition he has served as an academic advisor at the college level. He has worked as a collegiate basketball coach. He has worked as a teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels as well as in college. Craig has also worked in the job of his passion and calling: assistant principal and principal. Craig has done his work at schools both in the US and overseas. Now, He is dedicated to training and consulting school leaders on the use of Trust-Based Observations, empowering them to build supportive relationships with their teachers, relationships which foster risk-taking, which in turn, dramatically improve teaching and learning.

Currently, Craig lives in the rainy but beautiful Pacific Northwest with the best educator he knows, his wife and new teacher mentor, Michele, and their recently graduated high-school twins, Acalia and Craigo.

Tell me about a time you were in the trenches and managed to crawl out: (Craig) I think the best examples are always the ones who really make mistakes and learn from them. I’ll share one of those. I was working as a school principal. And we had a model with our English language learner teachers that they did push in, and they co-taught. I would just periodically do check-ins just to make sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be. I discovered that one of my teachers was not pushing in, or I couldn’t find you’re pushing in very frequently, it seemed to be a matter of maybe she was just pushing him with more teachers that were friends than other teachers.

Episode #57: Ann Hlabangana-Clay (podbean.com)

Episode #57: Ann Hlabangana-Clay

Ann Hlabangana-Clay is an instructional coach for a K-7 school in Williamston, Delaware. After 26 years of consulting, teaching, presenting, tutoring, and coaching PreK through 12th graders & adults across the U.S. and around the world, she still absolutely loves what she does! Ann has taught and led in Pennsylvania and Delaware, in public and private schools, in high need/high-risk areas as well as gifted and talented students. In addition, she has taught in a TAM setting, a SAM setting, and taught a pre-college English course at a local community college. The legacy she leaves as an educational consultant and podcast host, is building capacity and resiliency within, one client and one podcast listener at a time. previously taught K-6th. She is the podcast host of Coaching You Through All Things Education.

Tell me about a time you came out of the trenches: Not that many years, ago people in education weren’t focused on the whole child. People were very focused on data & testing: student achievement. Not addressing SEL, physical nature students have when approaching an assessment. She’s tried to advocate for students who need a voice


Ann is the Owner & Educational Consultant at A & C Unlimited, LLC.

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