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Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools

By Paul Bambrick-Santoyo

In Leverage Leadership Bambrick-Santoyo meticulously shows the steps that great school leaders take to promote effective teaching and transform lackluster or even good schools into great schools. The book’s companion DVD includes 30 video clips of top-tier leaders in action, offering a path for any leader that wants to replicate the results garnered by schools in Leverage Leadership.


The author deconstructs the myths behind the work of the modern-day principal and offers concrete guidelines for a new paradigm in school leadership. After years of running his own high-performing schools and studying the habits of other successful school leaders, Bambrick-Santoyo has settled on seven crucial levers that great principals employ that ensure schools produce the best results. Leverage Leadership also includes a chapter by Brett Peiser, Uncommon Schools’ former Managing Director of New York City and new CEO, who has worked extensively to learn how to assess and build staff culture, one of the seven levers.

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Data-Driven Instruction: Leading Analysis Meetings

Beth Verrilli and Steve Chiger show how a deep analysis of reading results can improve comprehension of MacBeth and other college-level texts.

Beth Verrilli teaches English at North Star Academy College Preparatory High School and is Chair of the English Department. She graduated cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross with a B.A. in English and from Brown University with an M.A.T. in English. Stephen Chiger teaches English and Journalism at North Star Academy College Preparatory High School. He has a B.A. in English from Lafayette College in English and a M.S.J. in journalism from Northwestern.

Observation & Feedback: Six Steps to Effective Feedback

Julie Jackson leverages six steps of effective feedback to show Carly Bradley how to raise the rigor of her questioning. Watch how Julie gets Carly to do the thinking and to practice on the spot.

Julie Jackson, Brooklyn Managing Director, was Principal of Vailsburg Elementary School in this video. She earned an M.Ed. in Educational Administration from William Paterson University and a B.A. in Communications from Shippensburg University (1992).

Observation & Feedback: Probing to Identify the Problem

Drawing on evidence from a classroom observation, Aja Settles asks Kristi Costanzo a series of targeted questions that allow Kristi to uncover the real error in her students’ word solving.

Aja Settles is Principal of North Star Academy West Side Park Elementary School. Aja was responsible for the development of the reading curriculum for K-2 and helped drive the creation of the K-4 Reading Taxonomy. Aja received certification as a Literacy Coordinator through Lesley University and Literacy Collaborative. Aja earned a B.A. in Sociology from Temple University.

Planning: Improving Lesson & Curriculum Plans

Kim Nicoll and Jamie Gumpper work together to add high-leverage details to Jamie’s plans, setting up his interactive reading lesson for success before he even steps foot in the classroom.

Kim Nicoll is a Co-Director at Roxbury Prep. She holds a B.A. in History from Wake Forest University and an M.A. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University. Jamie Gumpper teaches ancient history at Roxbury Prep Mission Hill Campus. He grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut and holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Dartmouth College.

Leading Professional Development: Application Time

While leading a workshop on introducing new books to students, Emily Hoefling-Crouch doesn’t just teach her participants new skills: she makes sure they have time to practice those skills exactly as they’d perform them in their own classrooms.

Emily Hoefling-Crouch is principal fellow for Brooklyn elementary schools. Emily holds a B.A. in Religion from Indiana University and an M.S.T. in Childhood Education from Pace University.

Student Culture: Day One Rehearsal

Alison Komorowski, a first year North Star teacher, practices everything she’ll need to do when her students arrive in an all-staff Day One Rehearsal.

Andrea Somerville is a Kindergarten teacher at North Star Academy Vailsburg Elementary School. She graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY with a degree in special education and early childhood education. Alison Komorowski joined North Star in 2011 as a member of the 2011 Teach for America Greater Newark Corps. She graduated cum laude from The College of the Holy Cross in 2011 with a B.A. in Economics.