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Advanced Leadership Lessons

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“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”

– Langston Hughes

This week I had the good fortune and honor of completing a two year advanced leadership program sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). Upon my return home I and more than 20 other superintendent friends and colleagues across the nation will carry the distinction of being a "Nationally Certified Superintendent". Last year after our coursework I published an article on the AASA website (click link).

From the article:

"This unique leadership program, designed to help school district leaders succeed on the job, brings together superintendents from around the country. The East Coast Cohort, the group I am a part of, consists of 26 superintendents representing 15 states. So far, we have been able to benefit from lead learners as well as veteran superintendents. Just as important, we also get to learn from one another. These expert superintendents help us understand that the working relationship with our board is perhaps the most important relationship we have.

During reflective leadership exercises highlighting our unique experiences, we built bonds that united us in the consistencies of the challenges we each face. We also engaged in board and governance workshops with representatives from the National School Boards Association.

An essential element of the program includes coach/mentor support from a master superintendent. This mentor relationship supports multiple levels of growth and support in the superintendency. The superintendency is often described as “lonely at the top,” but AASA is making efforts to change that through supportive, deliberate, thoughtful and high-level leadership and education."

In Deerfield I have been able to apply the skills and lessons learned from this program. Our Board CSWju_OUsAAJMuesupports leadership growth and development for our leaders and teachers on behalf of one another, the students, and the community. Thanks to the support of my AASA mentor/coach, the master teachers, the AASA personnel, and the opportunities to reflect and grow through this high level leadership program, I am confident that the educational opportunities for our 3000 students have become enhanced.


We all got to experience a capstone event highlighting the leadership lessons in which we engaged. A short view of one of my presentations is linked below:



In our Capstone project experience we held ourselves accountable through goal setting and metric development. As depicted in the slide deck above, and from our Capstone template: "The area to be improved in DPS109 is in the area of technology and its impact on K-8 instruction. The area to be improved will be determined by baseline data collection from September 2014 survey administration with Bright Bytes research partnership. Bright Bytes will measure impact from parent, student, staff stakeholder groups using online survey collection following a model they describe as CASE Technology Framework. CASE measures impact on the classroom, access, skills, and environment. The area to be improved is discovery of the effects/impact of the 1:1 transformative learning environment on learning and performance." 

We shared our "do" statements as well as our internal and external metrics. Holding ourselves and our organizations accountable through shared successful and replicable leadership strategies that imagesultimately support and celebrate growth and leadership across the nation on behalf of hundreds of thousands of students. We learned a ton from one another during the leadership coursework and related homework assignments and in-district work.

Other examples of accountability included: "Input changes to get to desired state:Empirical data points that support administrative direction, teacher training, parent training and engagement and Board support. Increased CASE metrics from Sept-March – increased student growth rates over time as measured by MAP reading/math K-8."

During the course of my leadership coursework in the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program, the DPS109 Board of Education carefully monitored survey data, student performance data as well as my leadership performance as the superintendent of schools. Concurrently with the leadership program and our local leadership initiatives, the Board indicated support and satisfaction with the realization of tangible evidence in support of previous Board plans (i.e. Master Facilities Planning CScRi5IWsAAIIv8from 2007-12, the Strategic Plan from 2011-16). The Board was also pleased with successful community engagement (i.e. Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education). The Board, parents, students, and teachers were engaged in planning, review, implementation, and further review of many initiatives, including the 1:1 Transformative Learning Environment changes. It has been a really busy, active, and impactful 32 months in DPS109 since July 1, 2013 when teams took office! Success in DPS109 is impacted and has been greatly influenced by the professional advanced leadership programming through the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program!

The relationships in our system were enhanced through deliberate outreach including parent technology information nights and working sessions, community film screenings and successive book talks, student focus groups, work groups, and student presentations to the Board of Education. In addition, through intentional communication strategies and leveraging of social media outreach, members of the community reported knowing more about the school system than ever before.

Because of this set of experiences, coaching, mentorship, leading and learning, I have greater confidence in my abilities to lead our organization on behalf of student and staff learning.

Thank you AASA and thank you DPS109 Board of Education!

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Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109).  Mike is married and is the father of two young children. He lives and works in suburban Chicago. Mike attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in criminal justice. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching and Educational Specialist in administration and supervision from National-Louis University. Mike earned his Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago, where his published dissertation was on Effective Instruction in Middle School Social Studies. Mike has had a variety of experiences as an educational professional. He began his educational career as an elementary and middle school teacher, prior to assuming roles of associate principal and principal at the middle school level, and as an assistant superintendent for personnel services (PK-8). He is also on the adjunct faculty at National Louis University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat - the superintendent educational chat on Twitter with Nick Polyak, and he and Polyak co-authored the book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (Rowman-Littlefield Publishers).


Presentations, Certifications

American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent Certification Program (2014-2016)

Illinois School of Advanced Leadership (ISAL) through the IASA and Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, WI) Earned title of Fellow (2012-2014)

2017 - Keynote presenter & breakout presenter EdTechTeam Leadership Symposia (OH, CA)

2016 - Presenter at the IASA State Superintendent Conference - Social Media for Supts.

2016 - Co-facilitator IASA Aspiring Superintendent Academy

2016- Co-Director Legislation for the Lake County Superintendents

2015, 2016, 2017 – Presenter at the AASA National Council in Ed – Social Media for Supts.

2015 – Co-Presenter at Suburban Superintendent Roundtable for Northern Illinoishttp://t.co/x8Ls5Ddg00

2015 – Presenter at IASBO A New Design Frontier for Next Generation Learning

2015 – Panelist Leading for Transformative Change at Tech & Learning Live Chicago

2015 – Presenter at Illinois CTO Summit (Center for Digital Education and the Illinois Educational Technology Leaders (IETL)) Leadership and Vision

2015 – Presentation at Discovery Education Superintendent Digital Transition Symposium in Washington, D.C.Telling Our Story: Innovation in DPS109

2015 Presentations at Joint Annual Conference - Social Media for Superintendents and Effective Building Design

2015 Presenter at Illinois Association of School Administrators Annual Conference

2014-present Co-moderate national/international monthly Twitter chat #suptchat

2011 Illinois ASCD Leadership Institute Presenter – Using Danielson Frameworks



Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2016). I Hear What You’re Saying...And I Respect You. Journal of Scholarship and Practice, Summer 2016/Volume 13. No.2, 44-54.


In Publication: Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2017). Managing Up. Principal (NAESP)


Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2016). Reimagined NGSS learning spaces: Principals as holistic school improvement leaders. Principal Leadership, 52-54.


Himebaugh G., Lubelfeld M. (2016). Inspiring a Shared Vision. Update, Spring (Leadership Issue), 24-29.


Lubelfeld M. Rev. of Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions, by Lucy Calkins.ILASCD Summer Newsletter, Summer 2016, Volume 62, No. 2: 25-27.


Lubelfeld M., Polyak N. (2017). The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today. Lathan, MD: Rowman-Littlefield. -March 2017


Lubelfeld M., Polyak N., Seibert A. (2016). Leaders in Learning Through AASA’s Digital Consortium. School Administrator, February, 32-33.


Other (Memberships, other experiences)


Suburban Schools Superintendents (SSS)

Illinois & American Association of School Administrators (IASA/AASA,

National Association of School Superintendents (NASS)

Ed Leader 21 Member

Illinois & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD/ILASCD),

Illinois & American Association of School Business Officials (IASBO),

The Horace Mann League of the USA,

Rotary Club of Deerfield, IL (Secretary 2014-16)

Advisory board member for the Digital Consortium (AASA)

2016 Superintendent Advisory Council - Center for Digital Education

Member Education Advisory Board - Hon. Bob Dold, U.S. Congressman 10th District

Member of Community Advisory Committee on Education – Rep. Scott Drury (IL-58th)

Twitter http://twitter.com/mikelubelfeld

Bilingual (English/Spanish)

Enrolled in intensive Spanish language and Mexican culture classes at the Cuauhnahuac Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico; lived with Mexican family, 1992



INSPRA video website

NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association) Superintendents to Watch 2015-2016

2016 LifeTouch Memory Mission to the Dominican Republic represented the AASA

NASS (National Assn of School Superintendents) Superintendent of the Year 2015 Finalist

INSPRA (IL Chapter NSPRA) 2014 Distinguished Service Award of Excellence - Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education

The science labs won the Learning by Design Award for “Outstanding Project” in the Spring of 2016 as well as an Award of Merit in the Exhibition of Educational Environments Awards at the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Association of School Boards, and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials in 2015.  


DPS109 Science lab project was featured:

Johnsos, C., Monberg, G. (2015). Built on Value. Update, Fall (Facilties Isssue), 30-33.


Ullman, E. (2016). The Intelligent Use of Space. Tech & Learning Volume 36, Number 5, 34-38.


Received a 1997 Award of Excellence for Caring to Challenge, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

Selected to represent Illinois on the Social Studies Teachers’ Study Seminar in Germany, sponsored by the ICSS and the Armonk Institute, 1995


Additional -podcasts and edu talk radio interviews

Quoted in:

Gravel. R.J. (2015). Discover, Acknowledge, Commit: Guidelines for Adopting Administrative Software. School Administrator, December, 44-45.

DPS109 Science lab project was featured:

Johnsos, C., Monberg, G. (2015). Built on Value. Update, Fall (Facilties Isssue), 30-33.


Ullman, E. (2016). The Intelligent Use of Space. Tech & Learning Volume 36, Number 5, 34-38.


Received a 1997 Award of Excellence for Caring to Challenge, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

Selected to represent Illinois on the Social Studies Teachers’ Study Seminar in Germany, sponsored by the ICSS and the Armonk Institute, 1995

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