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Inside the Treehouse

Education Podcasts

Welcome to Inside the Treehouse, a podcast featuring Solution Tree CEO Jeff Jones. In each installment, Jeff will speak with some of the finest authors and professional development presenters in the field of education--on subjects including professional learning communities, response to intervention, assessment, instruction, and leadership. Subscribe to hear cutting-edge ideas presented as each new educational development happens. Inside the Treehouse is the place to be for educators to learn and grow professionally.


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Welcome to Inside the Treehouse, a podcast featuring Solution Tree CEO Jeff Jones. In each installment, Jeff will speak with some of the finest authors and professional development presenters in the field of education--on subjects including professional learning communities, response to intervention, assessment, instruction, and leadership. Subscribe to hear cutting-edge ideas presented as each new educational development happens. Inside the Treehouse is the place to be for educators to learn and grow professionally.






“I’m Ready, I’m Willing, and I’m Going To” : A Conversation with Michelle Finn

From her rough and tumble childhood along the rugged Maine coast to teaching Siberian Yupik students on an Alaskan island 35 miles from Russia, author and education expert Michelle Finn’s path through life has been unconventional. Join us as we explore her fascinating journey to become an educator, and the impact her work in competency-based, personalized learning systems has made on education. Learn more about Michelle Finn: Buy Michelle’s books:


Grammy-Nominated Artist Always Had a Thing for Teaching: A Conversation with Hedreich Nichols

Hedreich Nichols is a woman with many talents. Not only has she gifted the music world with her vocal prowess, this international sensation has also devoted much of her professional career to advocating for students and the educators who serve them. Tune in to hear more about Nichols’ experiences as an artist, teacher, award-winning author, and renowned expert in equitable education and ed tech. From the Grammy Awards to the world of artificial intelligence, this conversation is full of surprises and hidden gems of wisdom. *Learn more about Hedreich Nichols: *Buy Hedreich’s book: *Twitter: @hedreich


When You Know What Works, Share It: A Conversation with Dr. Cameron Rains

Dr. Cameron Rains doesn’t shy away from digging in to investigate instructional practices that will raise levels of learning for all students. This passion for improving systems and structures to better serve students and teachers defined his former career as an educator and drives his daily work as executive vice president of Solution Tree. Join Jeff Jones in a candid conversation with Dr. Rains. As they traverse a range of topics, it becomes clear that every professional path chosen by Dr. Rains was done so with the intention of sharing what works with educators everywhere. Follow Cameron on Twitter @CameronRains


All Roads Lead to Education: A Conversation with Ed Ackerman

Ed Ackerman, president and COO of Solution Tree, sits down with Jeff Jones to talk about how the experiences in his life impacted his journey toward, and passion for, education. From humble beginnings growing up in Ohio, Iowa, New York, and South Carolina, then serving as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the army during Desert Storm, Ed’s journey has taken him across the world. Following his time in combat, he was selected to teach at the highly prestigious West Point, where his true passion for education soared. Ed joined Solution Tree in 2005 after years as a teacher. For nearly 20 years, he has made an immeasurable impact on the broader landscape of K–12 education.


The PLC Hero’s Journey: A Conversation with Dr. Bob Eaker

Decades ago, educator Bob Eaker began communicating with his fellow teachers and realized there needed to be a mechanism for changing teachers in order to change schools. Collaborating with PLC at Work® originator Rick DuFour, Bob took the principles of the PLC into his own community–and from there, saw dramatic results. Listen in as Solution Tree CEO Jeff Jones sits down with Bob to discuss those early days of putting the PLC into practice, and how the passion for teaching that began all those years ago has never waned.


Meet the Family: A Conversation with Claudia Wheatley

Claudia Wheatley, author liaison and content specialist for Solution Tree, has experienced the life and culture of people everywhere from the inner city to the farms of Indiana. As a young teacher, Claudia learned the value of education, but was also willing to take risks to ensure student success went beyond just the subject matter. From there, she learned her talents lay in resource development. During her prestigious career at Solution Tree, Claudia has overseen the production of thousands of resources used by educators across the country. Whether she is nurturing our newest associates or developing new employees, Claudia consistently follows the trends in education and shows a dedication to advancing the work of our authors. Listen in as Claudia and Jeff Jones discuss her life and career and what she sees in the current landscape of publishing and education.


Urgency for Ideas, Patience with People: A Conversation with Tom Schimmer

Former teacher, school administrator, and district-level leader Tom Schimmer has always felt a drive to impact people—although not always as an educator. As a lifelong sports fan, he first dreamed of coaching. It was only after he began teaching that he developed a passion for the work and embarked on a career in education that has spanned more than 30 years and taken him to 19 different countries. Tune in to hear how Tom went from Boise State punter to one of the top experts in education. He chats about growing up in Vancouver, his love of baseball and sitcoms, and why “Schimmering it” is the key to lower-stress travel. Gain insight into his strategy for presenting effectively, the parallels of coaching and presenting, and the simultaneously exhilarating and grueling realities of being an international speaker.


An Unconventional Path to Success: A Conversation with William M. Ferriter

Deeply rooted in the culture of Buffalo, New York, William “Bill” M. Ferriter has always felt a need to share his passion for community with the students he teaches. As a young teacher, he took that passion to North Carolina, where he began his career with third-grade students. He then made his way through different grades before finally becoming an eighth-grade science teacher—a position he still holds today. A prolific writer and speaker, Bill is passionate about crafting compelling content. Through his writing, he serves as a mentor for budding educators. Bill has published eight books individually, along with five collaborations, and is motivated to bring his experience and story to other teachers. Listen in as Bill talks about his life, family, and career.


A Conversation with Jack Baldermann: Success is a Team Effort

From Illinois High School Principal of the Year to one of three National Principal of the Year finalists, Jack Baldermann has been a passionate educational leader for more than 30 years. Born and raised in Chicago, he learned the value of collaboration and hard work from a young age, lessons that he carries with him to this day as principal of Westmont High School and a Solution Tree PLC at Work® expert. Follow his journey from high school basketball benchwarmer to principal of one of the highest-performing PLCs around the globe. Listen as he shares his love of sports and music, what life has taught him about teamwork, and how Westmont students turned a popular internet meme into their very own “Sentinel Baby.”


Season 2 - Welcome to the Treehouse

Solution Tree CEO Jeff Jones welcomes listeners to Season 2 of podcast interviews with some of the most gifted authors and presenters in the field of education.


A Conversation with Mike Mattos and Anthony Muhammad: Revisiting PLC at Work®

For both Mike Mattos and Anthony Muhammad, discovering the PLC at Work® process completely changed how they view education. Now, years later, they’re not just believers in its transformative power—they’re proud advocates whose new book, Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work®, is an essential read for any educator who is serious about PLCs. In this recorded Facebook Live chat, you’ll learn more about Mike and Anthony’s introduction to PLC at Work® process and how they’re continuing its legacy. Gain insights and observations from their research and experience, explore the crucial distinction between PLC at Work® and other PLC models, and discover why the process is more relevant now than ever before.


A Conversation with Eric Twadell: From Floods and Fire to Winds to Change

To the education field, Eric Twadell is superintendent of Adlai E. Stevenson District 125, which is often considered the birthplace of the PLC movement. But to the people closest to him, Eric is a proud husband and father, a former Boy Scout, an avid snow skier, and an enthusiastic Peloton user. Discover how an “average” student from Illinois became an education expert who brought change to one of the most recognized and celebrated schools in America. Hear fun and inspiring stories about his personal experiences, including how his high school burned down, why he chose teaching over law, and why he considers himself the luckiest guy in the world.


A Conversation with Timothy D. Kanold: Early Life Struggles, Filling Big Shoes, and Finding Successes

Award-winning educator, celebrated author, and sought-after consultant Timothy D. Kanold is a national thought leader in mathematics. But it wasn't always a smooth, easy road to success. Listen as Dr. Kanold describes overcoming the challenges of his past, from struggling with school and homelessness as a child to dealing with poverty and isolation early in his teaching career. Discover how key mentors and family helped guide his life's path, including the challenge and privilege of filling the superintendent role formerly held by Richard DuFour.


A Conversation with Douglas Rife: Never Judging a Book By Its Cover

With 46 years in the publishing industry, Solution Tree Publisher Douglas Rife is no stranger to the book biz. Besides heading up our press efforts, he’s also President of Solution Tree International, an avid blogger, published author, and gravestone aficionado. Discover Mr. Rife’s fascinating story, including family tales, cemetery adventures, and how he’s seen the publishing game change over time. You can find educational books and other teaching resources by visiting the Solution Tree bookstore.


A Conversation with Dr. Tina Boogren: Putting Yourself First and Pelotons

When she isn’t writing books or coaching educators, you’ll most likely find Dr. Tina Boogren hitting the pavement, riding the Peloton, and prioritizing her own well-being. A long-time Solution Tree and Marzano Resources associate, Tina has spent her career serving others...uncovering her true passion for professional wellness along the way. Listen as this self-proclaimed “gold star junkie” shares her journey to becoming a self-care guru. From a shy girl in Cedar Rapids to burning the candle at both ends, discover how Tina Boogren learned the importance of putting yourself first in order to be at your best for your students. Hear about the life-changing work she’s doing now to help others do the same!


A Conversation with Dr. Luis Cruz: Leaving Behind Luigi for Luis

Captivating audiences everywhere with his charisma, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more vibrant speaker and educator than Dr. Luis Cruz. Teacher, principal, writer, presenter... Luis has donned many titles over the years, but none compare to the one he holds now: cultural champion. Embracing his Latino heritage and diverse upbringing, Luis has pursued his passion for equity, making it his mission to ensure students of color, low-income students, and particularly ELLs succeed. Listen to the story of how Luis went from playing in the parking lots of Pico-Union in Los Angeles to leading the charge for lasting change in today’s education system. Discover fun anecdotes, stories of fame, and TikTok tales too!


A Conversation with Shannon Ritz - From Pom-Poms to PD

Solution Tree’s Vice President of Professional Development Shannon Ritz has built herself quite the resume. With 20 years under her belt, Shannon’s tenure at the Tree rivals even that of CEO Jeff Jones. From coaching a national champion cheerleading team to growing Solution Tree’s PD from the ground up, Shannon is a phenomenal leader who helps educators make a difference daily. Tune in for an inside look at how Solution Tree’s PD works, how it’s changed over time, and where it’s headed next. Learn some fun facts about Shannon along the way too!


A Conversation with Cassandra Erkens - Happy Accidents and Assessments

From facilitating workshops to finding innovative solutions, Cassandra Erkens embodies a true teaching professional. When she’s not spending time with her three kids or finding local treasures from each city she visits, Erkens is working hard to reinvent the assessment wheel. As a founding member and leader of the Solution Tree Assessment Center, Cassie is all about leveraging testing as an inspirational tool to drive achievement. Discover her journey to becoming the crown jewel of assessment. Listen as she shares her bumpy start, finding Camelot at Eden Prairie, the shift to presenting, and even how she shoots the occasional potato gun with her family.


A Conversation with Dr. Robert J. Marzano: Our Rockstar of Research

Dr. Robert J. Marzano, Cofounder and Chief Academic Officer of Marzano Resources, guides us through his life-long path to educational research and how his hard work, perseverance, and dedication to his career has influenced thousands of educators around the world. You’ll hear how Bob, a well-known “rockstar” in the field of education - with more than 50 years of experience, 50 books published, and more than 200 articles written - worked his way up to calling the shots on research, turning theories and data into real-world instructional strategies and practices in K-12 schools. You’ll also hear about a couple other rock stars he’s worked with along the way.


The Recipe for Success – A Conversation with Phil Warrick

Dr. Philip B. Warrick was named 2005 Nebraska State High School Principal of the Year, 2004 Nebraska Secondary School Principals Region One Principal of the Year, and 1998 Nebraska Outstanding New Principal of the Year and Nebraska Secondary School Principals Region One Assistant Principal of the Year, just to name a few of his professional accolades. In our newest episode, Phil talks about finding his path to school leadership after college, co-creating the High Reliability Schools concept with Dr. Robert J. Marzano during his time at Round Rock High School in Texas, and the “new normal” for schools these days. He also shares some insight into his family life and newfound hobbies since quarantine. From being a quarterback at Chadron State College, to educating students and leading schools, to making scones during the pandemic, you'll find out what motivates and drives Phil.