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SEEing to Lead

Jan 2, 2023

Bo Ryan is principal of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School in Hartford, CT. Ryan also served as a Principal for Woodside Intermediate School in Cromwell, CT. He is passionate about building and sustaining professional learning communities; and led both schools to Model PLC status. Ryan has been an educator for 27 years with a background as a teacher, coach, director, adjunct professor, and administrator. His first job was as a graduate assistant football coach for Syracuse University where he was a full time football coach and graduate student. He was a part of 2 bowl victories and 1 Big East Championship with the team. His teaching career began at JC Clark Elementary in the city of Hartford. In the school, Ryan created various before school and after school programs for students in the neighborhood. His daily morning gym program was open for all students an hour before school and served hundreds of students on a daily basis. Also at JC Clark, he started a basketball team in the school to help the students most at-need. The season was from October to May. Ryan also coached football, basketball, and served as director of the National Youth Sports Program at the local college during the summer. In addition, Ryan taught a graduate class at St. Joseph’s College for 4 years on using PLCs as the system for creating interventions.

Ryan is a board member for the Connecticut Association of Schools Student Services Team. As a teacher, he was named both educator and teacher of the year. As a director, he led his camp, NYSP, to national recognition. As a coach, he coached and supported athletes at both the collegiate and high school levels. At Woodside Intermediate School, they also were named a model SRBI and PBIS sight and welcomed visitors from all over. The school also served as a Professional Development School with Central Connecticut State University with college students, staff, and interns in the building at all times. A partnership was also created with Wesleyan University athletic department as athletes visited the school during recess and other times to support students. During his time at Woodside, Ryan presented on Professional Learning Communities to educators in CT and Massachusetts, presented on reading instruction to the CT Reading Association, and presented on RTI or SRBI in CT. Ryan helped open at brand new school in Hartford in a renovated factory. During his time, the school was selected a model professional learning community just 4 years after it opened. They were also selected a Solution Tree Success Story and featured on their website. As an educator, Ryan believes in relationship building with students and connecting with the community, as evident in 25 years of home visits. Ryan is currently a Solution Tree associate and certified PLC, RTI, and priority school presenter. He has presented across the United States on creating and sustaining PLCs in schools with the focus on the team.

Bo earned undergraduate degrees from Western Connecticut State University, a master’s degree from Syracuse University, and his sixth-year degree from Southern Connecticut State University.

Key Takeaways:

  • It's important to recognize where we have benefited and give back.
  • Educators have to realize that the student experience isn't always the same as their own personal experience when they were in school.
  • We improve ourselves and make the culture better by realizing and utilizing the importance of teams.
  • Team meetings have to be guided by a process and coached by a leader first if they are going to be effective.
  • Tight loose leadership is key if you are to have effective PLCs in your building.
  • It's important to focus on solutions rather than continue to highlight problems.
  • Implement systems that change mindsets.
  •  PLC work has to be research based.

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Book: Brilliance in the Building