My Town Tutors had a great year in 2012, expanding our network of local teachers who tutor and communicating with more teachers and parents than ever. in 2012 we had over 35,000 people visit our site from all 50 states.
One of our most popular posts is our Connected Educators list. Our followers love connected educators who are willing to share there knowledge and experience, however our list only includes twitter profiles. Many of our followers want to learn more about some incredible individuals! That is why we will highlight one connected educator during each week of 2013. So here it is!

Connected Educator of the Week

What is your current job of position?
I am the principal of Oregon High School, in Oregon, Illinois. OHS is a small school of 500 students who has recently been named one of the nation’s top high schools by US News and World Report.
What is your educational background?
I began my career working in the inner-city of Chicago at Percy Julian High School. I found myself in the inner-city largely because of my experience as a Golden Apple scholar. The Golden Apple Foundation selects high school students and provides them training and support with the understanding that scholars will work in schools of need. After working in Chicago as a teacher I began my administrative career in Rockford, Illinois serving as an Assistant Principal at an urban high school. After two years I decided to pursue the principalship and became the high school principal in Oregon, IL (45 minutes South of Rockford) at the age of 28. I have been here for four years and am currently working toward my Ed.D at Western Illinois University.
Describe your educational philosophy and educational vision?
My educational and leadership philosophies are very similar. I believe in a strong combination of support and accountability. I want excellence, but as a leader or as a teacher it is my job to provide you the necessary support to reach that end goal. As I look toward the future of education I believe one thing very strongly – the best schools in 2018 will be the ones preparing for 2023, not the ones focused trying to be the best in 2013. The educational world is changing and trying to be the best at what is the norm now will now serve your school well in the future.
How do you grow and engage your professional learning network?
My personal philosophy in engaging my PLN is to view my relationship with them as give and take. I need to do my part to contribute to the profession through blogging, writing, speaking, and active social media use in order to my fair share because I read and use any and every resource made available to me through their hard work.
What is the greatest benefit of your professional network?
Two major assets to being involved in an active PLN. First, with my electronic colleagues I am able to work through conversations and issues sometimes many times before I engage my faculty and staff in such discussions. This process forces me to reflect on my views and philosophies which has been incredibly useful in my continued growth as a leader. Second, is the personal connection with some ‘educational heavyweights’ and the feeling of never being behind the trend or having to guess what is coming next.
If you blog, what is the focus of it? How long have you been writing? Who is you audience?
I have been an active blogger and writer for about 13 months. In that time I have blogged for many sites, inclusive of Edutopia, ASCD, ASCD Express, Eye on Education, My Town Tutors, and Golden Apple. I have also published one book through Eye on Education and have a second manuscript currently under review. I try to write for both teachers and leaders and generally write first and foremost for me. While that might sound weird, writing helps me iron out my own thoughts and after working through that process of reflection I try to judge whether or not my work would be valuable to my colleagues. If I find it to be so – then I either seek to publish the work on a site like the ones mentioned above or just add it to my personal blog at

How do you use social media to connect with other educators? What is your advice to teachers on social media and education?
I use Twitter actively and have found it to be the most beneficial free Professional Development I have experienced outside of direct mentoring from my supervisors. I encourage teachers to simply ‘give it a shot.’ I feel as though any teacher, graduate student, or even friend that has given Twitter a legitimate shot has found it as beneficial as I have – so I don’t feel as though I need to sell the product, I just need to get them enough exposure that they find the benefits on their own.
What advice in general do you have to teachers today?
I have two general pieces of advice for teachers today –

  1. Stretch – Find ways to intentionally improve yourself every day. The largest determinant in whether you will continue to grow as a professional is you. Nobody became a teacher thinking they would be average – so do not settle for that now.
  2. Be learner-centered – I challenge teachers to take everything they do for one week inside and outside of the classroom (those things that pertain to school of course) and reflect upon whether it was done because that is the way we do school or because it is truly learner-centered. The truly great teachers are learner-centered.

Describe a teacher who has had a significant impact on your professional development?
I view my current boss, even though he is a Superintendent, as the teacher who has had the biggest impact on my career. He has supported my goals about my own personal professional development when many others would not have, but more importantly he has never put a ceiling on what I can become. Instead, he continues to raise the minimum level of what I can achieve and continues to push me to new heights. This is something that in transferable to anybody in education regardless of whether a teacher, building leader, or district leader. See minimums, not maximums. See basements, not ceilings.
What book would you recommend to teachers?
Besides for my own , I think two books are great reads for teachers. Todd Whitaker’s What Great Teachers Do Differently is such an easy read and conveys such wisdom for teachers. His writing style is not stress-inducing, but still inspires action. Second, is Eric Jennsen’s, Teaching with Poverty in Mind. This book helps teachers truly grasp what poverty does to children and with the economic times in the country – this is a must read in most districts.