Leadership for School Improvement SIG 101
Leadership for School Improvement SIG 101
SIG Purpose

Welcome! The purpose of the Leadership for School Improvement Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association is to examine how leadership of teachers, principals and superintendents influences instructional capacity resulting in improved student outcomes and how policy guides this collaborative effort. In addition, the Leadership for School Improvement SIG encourages discussion and development of the philosophical, theoretical and empirical tenets guiding school and system renewal. We invite you to join us as we seek to advance this purpose. If you have any questions or comments, please contact any of our officers.

You can find the our Fall 2021 Newsletter here.

Message from SIG Chair

Elizabeth Leisy Stosich profile photo_993

Message from the LSI SIG Chair Fall 2021

Educational leaders continue to face tremendous challenges as they work to keep students safe during the global pandemic, create learning environments that affirm and support each child, and navigate a divisive political landscape. The challenges posed by the pandemic and the inequitable impact on low-income, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities has only heightened the urgency of improving our schools so that all student have educational experiences that affirm their cultural identities, support their social emotional wellbeing, and encourage their academic development. In our roles as researchers, faculty, and graduate students we seek to understand and support the work of educational leaders as they reimagine the practices and policies necessary to make these ambitions a reality.

The pandemic and growing national solidarity in the movement for racial justice has presented new opportunities for research on leadership for school improvement. Reflecting the complexity of school improvement, members of the Leadership for School Improvement SIG are examining the work of leaders from numerous angles, including but not limited to how leaders innovate in times of crisis, how leaders collaborate with diverse stakeholders to understand and address critical problems of practice, how leaders support the wellbeing of not only students but the teachers and leaders who support their learning and development, how district leaders transform central offices to be more responsive to the needs of schools and the students they serve, and the unique challenge of leading for racial equity improvement. Leadership for school improvement is not simply a matter of improving students’ academic outcomes but rather one of supporting the learning and development of children and adults more comprehensively. The mission of the Leadership for School Improvement SIG, for which I am proud to serve as the Chairperson this year, is to examine how leadership exercised by teachers, principals, and superintendents influences instructional capacity resulting in improved student outcomes and how policy guides this collaborative effort. The work of LSI SIG members continues to deepen and expand upon this shared mission. Leading for school improvement is a collective and continuing endeavor.

I am always impressed by the LSI SIG membership for their deep commitments to improving schools, particularly during the professional and personal challenges of the past year and a half. I am excited by the expanding and deepening of the LSI SIG’s work, particularly in support of our graduate students. Thank you to our incredible Researcher Development Program (RDP) Planning Committee and the many LSI SIG members who have served as mentors in supporting the SIG’s promising graduate student members. We are excited to welcome Christine Nganga (faculty advisor) and Shekema Dunlap (graduate student representative), as our newest members of the RDP Planning Committee. Under the leadership of Sonya Hayes (book series editor), the Leadership for School Improvement book series with IAP continues to expand and reflects some of the many perspectives of our SIG members, with upcoming issues on self-care and well-being, equity and access, and improvement science in school improvement. We are excited to welcome DeMarcus Jenkins, Dissertation of the Year Award Chairperson, to the Executive Committee after much service to the SIG. Additionally, we welcome Maxwell Yurkofsky (website manager) and Shaun Shephard (graduate student newsletter editor) and thank them for their service to the SIG. The commitment of our Executive Committee, the many contributors to RDP, and our members are essential to advancing the mission of the LSI SIG. As I take on the position of LSI SIG Chair, I am grateful for the continued support of past chairs David DeMatthews and Rebecca Thessin.

Our next event, a lunch at the UCEA 2021 Convention, will take place on Friday, November 12th from 12-1pm at Elevator Brewery and Draft Haus. We will engage in research-focused conversations on improvement-related topics while we reconnect and eat! We are excited to connect with many of the LSI SIG members as we come back together as a community committed to advancing the knowledge and practice of leadership for school improvement.


Dr. Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, LSI SIG Chairperson

Assistant Professor

Fordham University

LSI mission:

to examine how leadership exercised by teachers, principals, and superintendents influences instructional capacity resulting in improved student outcomes and how policy guides this collaborative effort.

Who We Are

2021 - 2022 LSI SIG Executive Committee 

Chairperson: Elizabeth Stosich, Fordham University

Immediate Past Chairperson: David DeMatthews, University of Texas at Austin

Program Chairperson: Julia Mahfouz, University of Colorado, Denver

Secretary/Treasurer: Meredith Wronowski, University of Dayton

Dissertation Award Chairperson: DeMarcus Jenkins, The Pennsylvania State University

Book Series Editor: Sonya Hayes, University of Tennessee

Newsletter Editor: Matthew Shirrell, The George Washington University; Doug M. Wieczorek, Iowa State University (mentor)

Newsletter Managing Editor: Shaun Shephard, The George Washington University; Brandon Clark, Iowa State University (mentor)

Researcher Development Program Faculty Advisors: Stephen Kotok, St. John’s University; Christine Nganga, The George Washington University; Jennifer Clayton, The George Washington University (mentor)

Researcher Development Program Founding Director: Alison Wilson, South Dakota State University

Graduate Student Representatives: Parker Morse, Clemson University

Website Manager: Maxwell Yurkofsky, Radford University

Structure & Government


Each year we elect a Dissertation Award Chair which rotates through the executive council positions. The committees are ad hoc and appointed by the chairperson. Please contact the chairperson if you would like to be involved.

Researcher Development Program (RDP)

The Researcher Development Program (RDP) seeks to expand access to academic networks that dually support graduate students’ personal and professional well-being and scholarly development.

The RDP fulfills its mission by:

  • Striving to create accessible, inclusive, and humanizing professional development spaces
  • Promoting sustained, professionally enriching collaboration between faculty members and graduate students
  • Providing research, writing, presentation, and publication opportunities aligned with participants’ academic and professional goals
  • Promoting opportunities for faculty members to hone their mentorship skills.

We kick off this academic year with 14 mentors and 17 mentees! Currently, the RDP Planning Committee is supporting mentors and mentees as they begin their semester, setting their goals for the year, and planning how they will develop their final projects. Throughout their experience, we intend to support their relationship building, creativity, and project development. Here we provide a list of the mentor-mentee matches for the 2021-2022 cohort.


Mentee University Affiliation Mentor
Qiyang Zhang The Johns Hopkins University  Martin Scanlan, Boston College
Valeria Orue Dominguez University of California, Riverside Barbara L. Pazey, University of North Texas
Mary-Louise (Molly) Leger University of California, Los Angeles  Kristy Cooper Stein, Michigan State University
Jon Delperdang Delta State University  Julia Mahfouz, University of Colorado-Denver
Lihuan Chen The University of Hong Kong  Kimberly Kappler Hewitt, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Ashley Shen The Johns Hopkins University  Khalid Arar, Texas State University
Rubén Antonio Sánchez Hernández  The University of Hong Kong  W. Kyle Ingle, University of Louisville
Ann DeChenne Walden University Kristy Cooper Stein, Michigan State University
Joy Rushing Auburn University Emily Hodge, Montclair State University
Hilario Benzon University of Colorado Denver David G. Martinez, University of South Carolina
Fatema Al Attar United Arab Emirates University UAEU Khalid Arar, Texas State University
John McCandless Auburn University Abdelaziz Zohri, Hassan First University of Settat
Charlene Evans-Smith, EdD The George Washington University Meredith Wronowski, University of Dayton
Noor Doukmak University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Amanda J. Cordova, North Dakota State University
Donna Lyons University of Central Florida Katilin Anderson, Lehigh University
Rhonda Humphries The George Washington University Charles Lowery, Ohio University
Yichuan Zhao The Johns Hopkins University  Emily Hodge, Montclair State University


Dissertation of Year Recipients

 2020: Maxwell Yurkofsky, When Reason Confronts Uncertainty: Continuous Improvement, Technical Ceremonies, and the Changing Structure of American Schools, Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education, Advisor, Jal Mehta. 

2019: Bryan VanGronigen, An Examination of the Structures, Functions, and Perceived Effectiveness of School Leadership Teams in Underperforming High Schools, Ph.D., University of Virginia, Advisor, Dan Duke

2018: Mary Bussman, Peer Equity Coaching to Increase Cultural Responsiveness in Teaching and Leading, Ph.D., University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, Advisor, Karen Seashore Louis

2017: Kathryn Wiley, Unfulfilled Promises: Equity & School Discipline Practices in an Innovation School, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, Advisor, Michele Moses 

2016: Romy DeCristofaro, A Multi-Case Study Reflection within Collaborative Teacher Inquiry, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, Advisor, Shelby Cosner

2015:Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, Learning to Teach to the Common Core State Standards: Examining the Role of Teachers’ Collaboration, Principals’ Leadership, and Professional Development, Ed.D., Harvard University, Advisor, Susan Moore Johnson

2014: Doug Wieczorek, A Repeated, Cross-sectional Analysis of Principals' Professional Development and Instructional Leadership Behaviors in the First Decade of the Educational Accountability Era, Ph.D., Syracuse University, Advisor, George Theoharis

2013: Emily Palmer, Talking about Race: Overcoming fear in the process of change, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Advisor, Karen Seashore Louis

2012: Angela Urick, To what extent do typologies of school leaders across the U.S. predict teacher attrition? A multilevel latent class analysis of principals and teachers, Ed.D., University of Texas at San Antonio, Advisor, Alex Bowers

2011: Kerri J. Tobin, Identifying Best Practices for Homeless Students, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, Advisor, Joseph Murphy

2010: Hans W. Klar, Laying the groundwork for distributed instructional leadership in urban high schools: How principals foster department chair instructional leadership capacity, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Advisor, Paul V. Bredeson

2009: Jennifer K. Clayton, Changing diversity in U.S. schools: The impact on elementary student performance and achievement, Ph.D., Old Dominion University, Advisor, William Owings



Key Initiatives

Newsletter Issues

 FALL 2017

 SPRING 2017

 FALL 2016

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