Four Leadership Shifts to Build More Equitable Schools

A new school year is on the horizon with equally unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Our key leadership shifts—Partner, Believe, Adapt, Simplify—are what every education leader needs right now.
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Michele Caracappa
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Now more than ever, our students need bold, visionary leaders. We need leaders who seek a new way forward, rather than a return to “normal.” We need leaders who ensure all children, especially those from historically marginalized communities, are given every opportunity to turn their aspirations into reality.

At New Leaders, we develop visionary leaders. Each Tuesday in July, we’ll be featuring a leader who is “doing school” differently, rising to meet this moment and the next.

To guide your leadership in the months ahead, we identified four key leadership shifts as the hallmarks of how we must move our schools forward. Replacing deficit mindsets with growth and equity mindsets. Moving away from remediation (and pity) toward acceleration and compassion. Replacing quick fixes with solutions that fit the unique needs of students, families, staff. And more.

For each of the four shifts, we recommend a bold action:


Instead of doing “for” our communities, we build together.

Leaders drive change by engaging constituents at all levels, understanding their concerns and aspirations, and working together to meet their needs. Community members, family, staff, and students create the solutions that address their school’s unique context.


Rather than repair perceived “deficits,” we invest in assets.

Leaders drive change by embodying a core belief that students, staff, and communities are highly capable and draw upon tremendous strengths. It is the system—not the students or their zip code, race, or socioeconomic status—that is the source of inequity and the locus of change.


Instead of seeking quick fixes, we meet the moment.

Leaders drive change by committing time, people, and resources to unearthing new solutions to challenges for which there is no one right answer or easy fix. Leaders put people first, listening to multiple perspectives, shifting mindsets, and partnering with constituents to move forward.


Rather than adding more rollouts, we prioritize for impact.

Leaders drive change by purposefully identifying what is added and what is taken away. When leaders streamline the number of new initiatives and subtract other demands, implementation flourishes because core constituents have the time, resources, and focus to ensure—and to sustain—success.

We know there is no cookie cutter solution to drive success. We know federal investments make a significant difference, and also that dollars alone will not drive the change within us and around us. Your leadership matters more than ever. Bold actions and new mindsets, along with resources and commitment, build schools that foster a more just world.

Tune in each Tuesday in July to read inspiring stories, access valuable resources, and join a cadre of leaders who are actively building a more equitable future for our nation’s children.

Get started today by downloading your copy of the Four Leadership Shifts today!

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Michele Caracappa

Michele Caracappa

Michele Caracappa is the Chief Program Officer for New Leaders, where she oversees the design, development, and delivery of the organization’s leadership development programs. A founding member and former Chief Academic Officer for Success Academy Charter Schools, Michele drove instruction across 46 schools. Under her leadership, the network became the highest-achieving school system in the state of New York.

Michele Caracappa

Michele Caracappa

Michele Caracappa

Michele Caracappa

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