Building a Culture of Empathy and Curiosity with Tom Willis | Rebel Educator® | Tanya Sheckley

February 15, 2024

On this Rebel Educator® podcast, Tanya Sheckley has a conversation with Tom Willis about essential skills school leaders need to be effective, empathetic, and supportive leaders who create a community that supports growth. Tom is a former classroom teacher and a prior CEO for Cornerstone, a school system in Detroit. He also believes in the power of lifelong learning.  These beliefs have shaped his primary goal in life: helping others move beyond their self-limiting beliefs so they can reach their God-given potential.  

He was fortunate to earn an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  

He thanks God every day for his amazing wife and three wonderful children.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Tom’s transition into educational leadership and the challenges he faced.
  • The essential skills and characteristics needed for effective leadership in a school district.
  • The importance of having educators model SEL behaviors and emotional intelligence in their schools and classrooms.
  • The role of curiosity in education and leadership.
  • Asking the right questions to facilitate conversations.
  • How to shift from being a “doer” to a leader who supports growth.
  • The fundamental job of a leader.

You may also be interested in listening to more Rebel Educator® podcasts and reading articles written by Tanya Sheckley for Intrepid Ed News.

Tanya Sheckley

Tanya Sheckley is Founder and President of UP Academy, an elementary lab school which values innovation, empathy and strength and incorporates a unique neuro-development program for children with physical disabilities. Tanya’s vision and mission show it’s possible to celebrate differences, change what’s broken in the American education system, and that all children can receive a rigorous, well-rounded education. She is an Edpreneur, Author of Rebel Educator: Create Classrooms of Imagination and Impact and host of the Rebel Educator podcast. She speaks frequently on the future of education and entrepreneurship. She is a rebel educator who works with new and existing schools to question the status quo and develop innovative student experiences through inclusion and project-based learning.

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