A Possible Introductory Ed Leadership Text

Strategies for Developing and Supporting School Leaders: Stepping Stones to Great Leadership
By Karen L. Sanzo
(Routledge/Eye on Education, 2016 – Learn more)

jones carey margaretReviewed by Margaret Jones-Carey

The subtitle on the book is “stepping stones to great leadership.” However, the book leaves this reader wondering if the stones are pebbles or boulders. The first chapter is called “Developing Great Leaders.” As I began reading it, I was so hopeful that something might be uncovered that would make me say, “I never thought of that, “ but that didn’t happen.

strategies for developing sch leaders careyIn a later chapter, the author offers the framework of a Leadership Development System that on first glance makes the reader excited that there might be a great paradigm to follow. But in the end, it is more of the same old rhetoric on how to support school leaders.

The book isn’t without its helpful spots. In chapter 7, the discussion on mindset shifts offers practicing administrators a new way to frame the work of teacher evaluator, from compliance to coaching. Just the use of the language “mindset shift” offers the reader a chance to pause and become more reflective on the question, Am I setting my own frame of mind for the work ahead of me based on what I really want to accomplish?

The book also does provide the reader with several real world examples from schools across the country. Within these examples are the use of simulations, the use of cohorts within schools for leadership development, and the Model Teacher Program Framework.

Within those examples only a few really stood out as noteworthy. In particular the use of the term from the Hampton City Schools, Administrator Launchpad, offers readers the chance to think about how the use of language can bring forward images that would make leaders want to engage in leadership development work.

Higher Education Use

This book might be useful to schools of educational leadership in colleges and universities. It offers a quick read on overarching theories and offers concrete examples of implementations in school districts, which are often missing from the traditional textbooks selected for these programs.

Chapter 4 discusses “Partnering for Success.” Sanzo states, “Partnering with organizations allows for the cycling of resources beyond the organization itself.” She goes on to discuss that the use of partnerships with leadership development organizations is not new but is growing rapidly. Later in Chapter 4, the “Pillars of Effective Leadership Development Partnerships” are also shared. The layout of this chapter allows the reader to reflect on the steps that are often missed in developing and nurturing partnerships for leaders.

The tools offered in Chapter 9 include an aspiring leaders observation tool, coaching log, and a section on transitioning from the building level to the central office. In the end, I found that these tools failed to produce any “ah-ha” reactions – but for new leaders, they may offer a first glance at alternate thinking on these topics.

Overall, the book could be a guide for future leaders who may not have had a great deal of exposure to what is happening in other schools around the country. The book offers some ideas for changing the paradigm of leadership development through the use of practical and useful tools that are not difficult to implement.

Margaret Jones-Carey, Ed.D. serves as the Director of Educational Leadership at St. Bonaventure University. Dr. Jones-Carey spent more than 30 years working in public education in New York State as a Business and Reading Teacher, Director of Technology and Curriculum, Principal, Chief Academic Officer, and Assistant and Associate Superintendent for Instruction. Today, she provides support for schools in developing and supporting teacher leaders, coaches, and new and aspiring leaders.

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