In the early morning of Saturday, February 18, 2017, a courageous and brilliant woman ended her struggle to over-achieve against a brutal, unforgiving disease… pancreatic cancer.
“I get most excited about helping teachers do a better job in the classroom, so education can be more responsive to students—teaching kids, not subject areas. I’ve always wanted to make a difference.”
Deborah brought to her leadership of CTL deep experience at all levels of education—as a classroom teacher, principal, district assistant superintendent, and university faculty member, all in her native California, and as executive director of the Gheens Academy, which provides instructional leadership and professional development for the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, one of the largest school districts in the nation.
Deborah guided CTL staff and partners to develop innovative strategies and approaches that were geared toward sustainability beyond the life of an individual project. She had a knack for capturing in practical terms concepts about educational leadership and learning, and for helping educators to understand what’s really going on in classrooms, and to build relationships with their students and with one another.
While teaching at California State University, Hayward, Deborah received an Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award for developing a master’s degree program focused on action research and school leadership. She has worked as a professional development consultant in many California school districts, as well as for the Kentucky Department of Education. The subject of Deborah’s doctoral dissertation was the role of the superintendent in promoting principal instructional leadership, and she served as a designer and facilitator for the Danforth Foundation’s Forum for the American Superintendent.
Deborah published numerous articles on educational leadership and change, and co-authored The Constructivist Leader, published by (Columbia University) Teachers College Press, which received the National Staff Development Council’s Outstanding Book of the Year Award, and has been widely used in principal development programs. On behalf of CTL, she wrote the book Teaching for Results: Strategies for Improving Student Performance, published by Phi Delta Kappa.
Deborah was particularly interested in issues related to equity and diversity among learners, and in opportunities to ensure that every student has a shot at a quality education. She noted, “When what happens in a classroom is good, it’s a wonderful experience for everyone.” CTL will continue to strive to meet the high expectations that Deborah set as we honor her legacy and commitment to teacher and learning for all.