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Stories of Caring School Leadership

Stories of Caring School Leadership

October 2020 | 168 pages | Corwin
Real-life examples to inform and inspire caring in your leadership practices!

The practice of caring is essential to effective schooling. Published as a companion to Caring School Leadership, this comprehensive resource of powerful, real-life stories will make clear the connection between caring leadership and student academic success and well-being. Stories of Caring School Leadership includes a guide for using the stories in self-directed reflection and learning, for educators practicing in schools and professional preparation programs. Readers will find stories that

• will help aspiring and practicing leaders reflect upon and further develop caring as a quality of their leadership 
• affirm the importance of caring as a fundamental quality of school leadership 
• provide examples of caring school leadership in action that can be analyzed, reflected upon, and used to develop practice 

Stories have the power to inform and inspire. The stories in this book are evidence of what is possible when caring leadership is practiced in our schools.
List of Illustrations
About the Authors
Introduction: Caring School Leadership
Collection I: Stories of Being Caring in Relationships with Students

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Stories From PreK and Elementary Schools
1. Walk You to School?

2. Terry

3. Ana

4. I Don’t Have a Knife

5. Opening Up

6. Had It Gone a Different Way

7. Three Musketeers

8. Fever Free and Smiling

9. Now What Do I Do?

10. Sheila

11. Pizza and a Football

12. Connecting

13. Two Yearbooks

14. The Lunchroom

Stories From Secondary Schools
15. Minister of Presence

16. Sue Knows She Is Loved

17. What’s Going on With Renee?

18. Promise

19. Red Sneakers

20. Nate

21. Patrick

22. Four Years With That Student

23. On the Bus Ramp

24. Giving and Taking the Chance

25. You Just Gotta Be Calm

26. Not Giving Up

27. The Last Leg

28. I’ve Got Your Back

29. Toss and Turn

30. Authentic Care

31. Jason

32. Let Me Work on That

33. The Business Card

34. Not All Who Wander Are Lost

35. Not Too Tired to Be Caring

36. Swimming Upstream

37. Try This

38. The Tux

39. Breaking the Law

40. No Pity, Just Care

41. It’s Because My School Family Loves Me

42. Natalie

43. Our Collective Responsibility

44. Bicycle Built for Two

Collection II: Stories of Cultivating Schools as Caring Communities

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Stories From Elementary Schools
45. We Like the Egg Chairs

46. Hear My Message, Not My Tone

47. Family Connect Time

48. Our Transformation

49. Dots

50. Season of Giving

51. Evaluating Faculty With Challenge and Support

52. Coaching With Care

53. Accepting Your Feelings

54. Seth

55. Learning Together

56. Helping a Teacher Build Relationships With Students

57. Buddy Bench

58. 360 Degrees of Caring

59. The Results Are In

60. Always There for Me

61. Lunch With the Principal

62. School Welcomes

Stories From Secondary Schools
63. We Choose Relationships

64. Small Steps

65. Getting You Ready to Walk

66. Student Advocates

67. Grab a Sandwich

68. Welcome to Refugee High

69. Do We Really Know?

70. Setting Rules and Policies

71. No One Graduates Alone

72. Responding to the Crises

73. Good Works Toward Each Other

74. Fostering a Caring Faculty Culture

75. Promoting Safety and Community Through Near Peer Mentoring

76. When It Is Actually Not Easy

77. Mama Bears

78. Celebrating Matt

79. Everyone Has a Voice

80. Our Work Is Really All About Caring

81. A More Inclusive Culture

82. Enforcing the Norms

83. True Safety

84. Gail and Her Girls

85. Our Food Pantry

Collection III: Stories of Fostering Caring in Families and Community

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

86. Engaging Parents in Equity Dialogues

87. The Fire

88. Family Support

89. This School Is Here for You

90. An Open Letter to Parents of Children Throughout New York State Regarding Grades 3–8 Testing

91. Community Career Fairs and Pop-Up Food Banks

92. Born and Bred

93. We Are Going to Be Together in This

94. My Mom Is in Trouble

95. We Just Couldn’t See It

96. Our Next Mayor

97. Promoting Early Childhood Education in Families and the Community

98. Visiting With the Kids

99. Parent University

100. What Can We Do?


Captivating, moving, and sincere; a beautiful collection of stories of caring leadership practice. Full of dilemmas around boundaries and privacy, ambiguities and ethics, inequities and responsibility, this book illuminates, instructs, and inspires. It will be an eye-opener for anyone skeptical of the hard and necessary work that is caring and that schools and educators do on a daily basis. 

Milena Batanova
Research and Evaluation Manager, Making Caring Common, Harvard Graduate School of Education

What an interesting time we are in where a book that feeds the spirit presents a perspective that is both bold and lacking in today’s discourse! Our society’s future lies in our ability to guide the youngest among us towards social and emotional health. We will have left an indelible mark on society if we are able to cultivate in our future leaders with the capacity to be thoughtful, intelligent, kind, and caring. It will take a journey to get there from where we are today. This book should be required reading for the trip. 

John C Borrero
Executive Director, Collaboration for Early Childhood

The voices of these inspiring educators and their stories of hope bring to life how “caring lies at the heart of schooling” (p. xii). We are reminded that the little things are the big things. The stories illuminate the power of caring, loving, holding, listening, and being present—physically and psychologically—to and for each other. The storytellers create a tapestry made up of the textures of care in different forms—helping us to move closer together in our relationships and connectedness. Get ready to open your heart and be filled with goosebumps.

Ellie Drago-Severson
Professor of Education Leadership and Adult Learning & Leadership, Teachers College—Columbia University

Anyone who has ever worked in a school understands how important caring leadership is for human flourishing. With provocative questions for immediate application, these three highly respected scholars have framed stories that prove that caring leadership is happening in schools right now. The stories told by school leaders themselves are instructive and inspiring. The student artwork is a perfect complement. This book is more than a must-read for educators - it is a pure joy.

Jon Eckert
Professor of Educational Leadership, Baylor University

These stories truly capture what is at the heart and soul of good school leadership: authentic and unwavering care. These accounts are inspiring and motivating for anyone beginning, proceeding along, or reflecting on their own journey as a school leader. I’m forever grateful for the gift these authors have given us all. This will be a frequently called upon resource to share with the current and aspiring leaders I support.

Richard Frank
Coach and Consultant, CT3 Education

The stories in this book remind us that caring is an indispensable quality in teaching and leadership. Stories of Caring School Leadership is an essential resource for those charged with supporting students and adults for today's world—and tomorrow's.

Kevin Gallick
Principal, George Washington High School Chicago Public Schools

This profound and practical book animates the irreplaceable presence of caring necessary for the learning and development of children and youth. Constructed from practitioners’ stories with multiple avenues for access, the moving narratives give examples of why high school parents will flock to conferences, how middle school students were helped to address concerns about a teacher, an elementary child on the autism spectrum was given timely support, an equity committee was formed, and how an organizational context for caring was created.

Robert Garmston
Professor Emeritus California State University, Sacramento Co Founder of Cognitive Coaching and Adaptive Schools

Stories of Caring School Leadership brings compassionate, caring leadership to life through poignant stories and inspiring artistic expressions. The National Association of Secondary School Principals is committed to supporting gtreat leaders in every school who are committed to the success of each student. The sharing of student artwork lets the reader peer into the hearts of our most vulnerable and most precious assets—our students. This book “shows and tells” what school leadership should look like. Congratulations to Mark, Joe, and Karen for bringing authenticity to the vision of school leadership that NASSP finds crucial.  

Beverly J Hutton
Deputy Executive Director, Programs and Services National Association of Secondary School Principals

At times both touching and heartbreaking, this book is a rich source for learning that helps us envision equity -- truly caring about each individual student and valuing their unique set of experiences, assets, and needs. I connected with so many of these stories, and I applaud the authors for embracing the power of stories to bridge the gap between theory and practice. To lead for equity, we must do the internal work to see and recover from our own biases and assumptions about students, teachers, and families. These stories are a powerful tool for connecting though our shared humanity and for co-creating the culturally responsive and just school experiences that will free our young people to flourish.

Rebecca D. Kaye
Chief of Equity & Accountability Oklahoma City Public Schools

This collection of stories presents an authentic picture of what it means to be a school leader today. As I read the book I cried, laughed, nodded, and said aloud, “Oh, yeah, that happens, sometimes more than we’ll ever know.” The storytellers paint a picture of the challenges students face each day that extend beyond their academic success and how school leaders are instrumental in shaping and nurturing schools in which students’ very existence and well-being depend on caring school administrators. This book illustrates the many ways leaders cultivate and model caring within their community to extend collective responsibility for student, staff, and family success. These stories show how vital it is for today’s school leaders to act with compassion and urgency so that all students, staff members, and community members have advocates, are acknowledged, and feel worthy, valued, and cared for.

Joellen Killion
Senior Advisor Learning Forward, The Professional Learning Association

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