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On My Way to Help Build a School In the Dominican Republic

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“Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. ”

– Earl Nightingale 

 This January I will be a part of a team that will build an elementary school in Rio Grande, a small community in Constanza in the Dominican Republic. The team of volunteers will consist of superintendents, principals, educators, PTA members and others who all share a passion for serving children and families. This memory mission trip is sponsored by LifeTouch and supported by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  I am proud to be one of the superintendents representing the AASA on this mission!

As part of the process of participating in the mission, there are some volunteer questions which I was asked and answered and I want to share via the blog as an amplification as to the purpose of this upcoming leadership and life experience for me.

Question: Why did you volunteer for the Lifetouch Memory Mission?

schoolResponse: I view education as a calling and as a call to service. I have been blessed with guidance, mentorship, coaching, and opportunities from others, and I want to pay it forward and serve globally. Over the course of my career (23 years in public education so far) I have worked with students from various nationalities, economic stations, religions, and perspectives. I believe, and I know from experiences, that spending meaningful time in another country serving a local community will improve my life and my service. My aim is to also show via modeling for my own children and family and for the folks in the community where I serve that I am willing to “walk the walk” in multiple venues and situations.

Question: What do you hope to learn from the experience of building this school, interacting with the residents of Constanza and working as a team with your fellow Memory Mission volunteers?

Response: I expect a truly life changing experience in terms of culture, language, building, caring, and doing. I am hoping to see the world through the lens of the people of Constanza and through that lens better clarify my own lens. I hope to spread “public diplomacy” as well by showing the good side and caring side of our American people and of our school personnel. I look forward to making life long friendships and connections with my fellow volunteers. I want to make my wife and children proud of me by modeling a life of service.

Question: How do you think the Memory Mission will change you? Do you have personal goals for what you take away from this experience?

Response: I think this trip will change me in terms of the building experiences, the family/citizen interactions, the overall cultural exchange in the Dominican Republic. My goal is to listen, learn, embrace the culture and the people and aim to give as much as I can to these projects.

Question: Please tell us about any past experiences with international travel. Where have you visited? What experiences abroad have left the greatest impression on you?

Response: I have traveled to Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico. I lived with a family in Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1992 while attending coursework at a school. The homestay in Mexico gave me an appreciation and respect for the Mexican people, culture, and ways of life as well as the life long skills of biculturalism and bilingualism. My travels to Spain included recruiting Spanish teachers to work in the USA in a dual-language Spanish/English immersion education program. I learned about Germany in 1995 during the opening of the Berlin Wall and the wrapping of the Reichstag. In addition I visited schools, professional learning institutes and government facilities. The greatest impressions I have include the “sameness” that we all share regardless of language, heritage, country, etc. We are all citizens of the world with contributions and benefits to share and to serve. My Caribbean experiences broadened my appreciation for global history, economic interdependence and natural and cultural beauty.


My efforts to help support this project stretch beyond manual labor. There is still a great need to raise funds for the construction and furnishing of the school. Your donation of any size to the Lifetouch Memory Mission can help us continue to raise a village out of poverty. Let’s create a positive change for hundreds of children and their families in this community!

Each day Kids Risk Lives to Reach School

For most parents and kids, crossing the street to catch the school bus may be the riskiest part about getting to school. Could you imagine sending your child on a 2 ½ mile hike up a mountain in order to receive an education? Or what if you didn’t have the ability to send them in the first place?

Children in Constanza, Dominican Republic face these unfavorable conditions daily. Many choose not to take the long journey to school and stay home instead. With the lack of educational resources in this part of the world, children are being deprived of reaching their full potential.

For more information:

Mike Lubelfeld’s Page Lifetouch Memory Mission

We are Building Schools – And Hope – And You Can Help



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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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