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District Leader


District Leader: Transforming Education is a podcast about moving and inspiring educators and non-educators alike to believe in the power of education, its leaders, and its transformation. Each week, host Luis Valentino interviews district leaders who share powerful stories.

District Leader: Transforming Education is a podcast about moving and inspiring educators and non-educators alike to believe in the power of education, its leaders, and its transformation. Each week, host Luis Valentino interviews district leaders who share powerful stories.


United States




District Leader: Transforming Education is a podcast about moving and inspiring educators and non-educators alike to believe in the power of education, its leaders, and its transformation. Each week, host Luis Valentino interviews district leaders who share powerful stories.




(213) 248-7408


Student-Centered Learning, Personalized Instruction, and Life-Ready Competencies

The pandemic has presented schools with a variety of challenges, but thanks to adaptability, modern learning tools, and mature students, the Ephrata Area School District in Lancaster County Pennsylvania has risen to the challenge. Today, we speak with Dr. Brain Troop, who serves as a member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and is part of the EdLeader21 Network advisory committee. In this hopeful episode, we kick things off by taking a look at how Brian’s district has...


Change, Leadership, and Work-Life Balance

Episode 40: Show Notes The pandemic has shown that change is possible and that educators can serve high levels of instruction to students across a number of different modalities. As Dr. PJ Caposey explains in today’s episode, “your zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of your education.” An acclaimed keynote speaker and superintendent, today we speak with PJ about leadership, work-life balance, and how we can change our systems to offer a better education for all. After introducing PJ,...


Transforming Education Systems During Crisis with Matt Pope

Episode 39: Show Notes. As we consider the challenges of keeping our education systems up and running, we must also consider the opportunities that are becoming visible to us, including school and district cultures we are creating, the systems and structures we have put in place, and the transformative practices we have established. In the middle of this crisis, where is the silver lining? And how do we organize ourselves to benefit from it? Could this be the tipping point we have all been...


Servant Leadership, Equity, and Student Success

Episode 38: Show Notes. Despite the barrage of research advocating for change, our school system is largely the same as it has been for generations. For Brady Cook, Superintendent for the Michigan Center School District, the pandemic has a silver-lining — finally, teachers are being given the opportunity to change the system. Today, we speak to Brady about how his district has adapted to the pandemic and how we can turn the pandemic “into the biggest positive in the history of...


Remembering Where the Diamonds Are in Difficult Times with Superintendent, Dr. Yvonne Curtis

Episode 37: Show Notes. The pandemic has forced institutions across the board to change and adapt, and schools have moved at warped speed, into unknown territories, pushing harder and faster than many in and out the system thought was capable. Although the challenges that have come with this time have been undeniable, today’s guest, Dr. Yvonne Curtis believes the current moment also brings infinite opportunities for change and growth. In this episode, we learn more about her career, the...


Superintendent, Paul Marietti

Episode 36: Show Notes. The pandemic has put enormous strain on schools and if there is one thing we can take away from it all, it is a reaffirmed belief in the value of education. My conversation today is with Dr. Paul Marietti, Superintendent of the Fowler Unified School District about how he and his community have taken up the many challenges posed by the COVID outbreak. Paul spent the bulk of his education career in Southern California as a teacher and site and central office leader...


Superintendent, Gustavo Balderas

Episode 35: Show Notes In our conversation today, we will be discussing the question of staying focused on the right work and its role in disrupting the system in ways that responds to the inequities the pandemic has made more visible for all of us. Our guest today is Dr. Gustavo Balderas, Superintendent of the Edmonds School District in Edmonds, Washington. Dr. Balderas has been an educator for thirty years and has served as a teacher and school administrator. He has also served in...


Superintendent, Martha Salazar-Zamora

When it comes to leading through an ongoing pandemic and amid the threat of multiple natural disasters, our guest today, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora, believes in having a well-thought-out plan and communicating it clearly to all parties. When drastic, unexpected things happen, the best thing district leaders can do is to formulate a plan and to outline each required step so that everyone is on the same page, even when things are adjusted last minute. And to do this well, Martha...


Superintendent, Anibal Soler, J.

If leadership is challenging on a good day, the pandemic has plummeted almost every organization in the world into an impossible situation, requiring leaders and teams to shift gears overnight and come up with solutions to problems they have never had before. Our guest today, the Superintendent of Schools for the Batavia City School District, Anibal Soler, Jr., knows all about these unexpected responsibilities put on parents, teachers, and school leaders when the crisis hit the US in March...


Superintendent, Socorro Shiels

My guest today is Socorro Shiels, Superintendent of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District. Socorro serves nearly 4000 students across five elementary schools, two middle schools, and both a comprehensive and continuation high school. She previously served as Superintendent of the Santa Rosa City School District, and as Director of Education for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. In my conversation with Socorro, we will be discussing race, equity, and social justice,...


Welcome to Season 2

After a two year hiatus, the District Leader Podcast is back to bring you inspiring conversations with school district leaders across the country. The show is hosted by Luis R. Valentino, a career educator whose 30 years of experience is brought to bear in his discussions around the challenges and possibilities of reimagining the future of education. With educators facing some of the most difficult conditions in US history, including reopening during the pandemic, we aim to give you deeper...


Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today

My guest this week is Dr. Michael Lubelfeld, Superintendent of the Deerfield Public Schools, in Deerfield, IL. Originally, also had Dr. Nick Polyak, Superintendent of the Leyden Community High School District #212, in Franklin Park, IL scheduled to join the conversation. Unfortunately, he was called away, and was unable to join us. If the the names sound familiar, it is because both Mike and Nick were previous guests on our program. Nick was our guest, Episode 07, and Mike was our guest,...


Fred Navarro, Ed.D.

My guest this week is Dr. Fred Navarro, Superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, California. A career educator, Fred started his career as a teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District. He has a wide range of experience having served in several positions during his career, including activities director, assistant director of human resources, middle and high school principal, and assistant superintendent of instruction. He served as superintendent...


Retired Superintendent Ricardo Medina

My guest this week is retired superintendent Ricardo Medina. Ricardo has had an extensive career in education. He has served as teacher, site administrator, and district leader. Ricardo served as Superintendent with the Coachella Valley Unified School District, and the Central Union High School District in California, and the Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools in Michigan. He later served as Chief Human Resource Officer with the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in San Jose,...


Superintendent, Phil Ertl, EdD

My guest this week on District Leader is Dr. Phil Ertl, Superintendent of the Wauwatosa School District, in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Phil has served as the Superintendent of Schools in Wauwatosa School District, in Wisconsin, since 2005. Wauwatosa is an inner ring suburb of Milwaukee that serves a diverse student population of 7,300 students. Phil started his career in education as a teacher and coach in the Marble Falls Independent School District in Texas and the Tomah Area School District in...


Happy Holidays

Hi everyone, and welcome to District Leader. We’re taking a break for the holidays, but will be returning with incredible guests in the new year. In the meantime, I invite you to listen to our past District Leader podcasts. For educators this is a special time to power down from the work of school and district, and all of the challenges faced on a daily basis. The respite comes with an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, read a good book, watch all of those shows that have been...


Randy Ziegenfuss, Ed.D.

My guest this week is Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss. Randy currently serves as Superintendent in the Salisbury Township School District, in Allentown, PA. Prior to his current position, Randy was a classroom teacher, Department Chair, Technology Integration Specialist, Director of Technology and an Assistant Superintendent. Randy is also Clinical Adjunct Professor of Education at Moravian College, teaching courses in inquiry, assessment and technology in the undergraduate, graduate and principal...


Hector Montenegro, Ed.D.

My guest this week is Dr. Hector Montenegro. Hector taking a sabbatical from his work as Superintendent, but yet appears to be as busy as always. Hector is President and CEO of Montenegro Consulting Group, and a Senior Associate for Margarita Calderon and Associates. He provides training on English learner teaching strategies, and leadership development for administrators and instructional coaches. Hector specializes in the teacher coaching process through the use of technology, video...


Cindy Zurchin, Ed.D. (22)

Cindy started her career in education as a high school teacher for at-risk youth. She gained experience at the elementary, middle and high school levels as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in urban education. She served as an assistant superintendent and superintendent of suburban school districts. Her last assignment was as Superintendent of the Abridge Area School District in Abridge, Pennsylvania. Years after her discovery that school culture was the key, Cindy created the...


Thanksgiving Message

Hi everyone, and welcome to District Leader. Thank you for joining us. You know, I had a great conversation with Superintendent Zurchin to share with you this week. But instead, we're taking a hiatus, with the hope that you have begun to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. We will be returning next week with my guest, Dr. Zurchin. There is much that we can be thankful for in life. Certainly there is much that I am thankful for. We are thankful for our loved ones,...