• Students raising their hands in an engaged classroom. Text box reads The Learning Spring an Education Podcast Series

Episode 1. Leadership for Reinventing Schools

In this dynamic conversation, educators and authors Kevin Fahey and Jacy Ippolito along with middle school principal Cathy O’Connell ask us to rethink conventional approaches to school improvement. Our guests draw on the ideas in their book, An Uncommon Theory of School Change, as well as years of experience in the field of education to help us question, rethink, and reinvent the fundamental assumptions upon which our schools are built. Whether it is in our role as school leaders, classroom educators, school staff, or policy makers – they invite each of us to consider what deeper and more transformative change looks like, what’s at stake if we refuse to engage with it, and practical steps to get there together.

You can also listen to The Learning Spring on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

“If school systems are to meet the challenge of this historic moment, they must articulate a new, rich vision that imbues students with a sense of responsible citizenship, prepares them for the world of work, and helps them develop a healthy sense of self.”


Headshot of Kevin Fahey, author of "An Uncommon Theory of School Change"Dr. Kevin Fahey is professor emeritus of educational leadership at the McKeown School of Education at Salem State University in Salem MA.  In this role, he prepares school leaders to use the tools of critical friendship, facilitative leadership, and equitable practice to lead student, adult, and organizational learning. He also spent 25 years as a middle school teacher, high school department chair, district curriculum director, and elementary school principal. Kevin has worked nationally as one of the founders of the School Reform Initiative and is a past chair of the SRI board. He is the author of numerous articles and presentations, and co-author of f (TC Press) and An Uncommon Theory of School Change (TC Press).

Headshot of Jacy IppolitoJacy Ippolito is a professor of literacy and leadership in the McKeown School of Education at Salem State University (Salem, MA), where he currently co-directs graduate programs in Educational Leadership and is the co-director of the Center for Ed Leadership at Salem State (CEL@SSU). Jacy has worked as a reading specialist and literacy coach, and his research, teaching, and consulting focus on the intersection of coaching, leadership, adolescent literacy, and school reform. Some of his recent co-authored books include: Cultivating Coaching Mindsets, Disciplinary Literacy Inquiry & Instruction, and An UnCommon Theory of School Change. For more about Jacy’s books and articles, or to connect with him directly, please visit www.visualcv.com/jacyippolito or www.twitter.com/Jippolito

Cathy OConnell is in her 12th year as the principal of North Reading Middle School. Prior to working in North Reading, she served as the assistant principal at Parker Middle School in Reading for just under 2 years. Before moving into administration, Cathy worked as a middle-high school social studies teacher for over a decade in Massachusetts and Illinois. Her passion is adolescent learning and she feels strongly that this is a critical developmental age for children and that schools play an incredibly important role in their lives at this time. In addition to her work as a building principal, she also teaches in the Educational Leadership programs at Salem State and UMASS Lowell and supports the administrator practicum programs at both schools.

Buy The Book

Fahey, K., Breidenstein, A., Ippolito, J., & Hensley, F. (2019). An uncommon theory of school change: Leadership for reinventing schools. Teachers College Press.

Read the article

Fahey, K., & Ippolito, J. (2014). How to build schools where adults learn. The Learning Professional35(2), 30.

Read the article

Aspen Institute (20220). Rethinking the Role of the Principal. Education and Society.