RTI believes that strong, effective leaders are crucial to the overall effectiveness of schools and districts. Our approach to developing high-functioning leaders emphasizes a competency-based, gradual release approach for skills development that is tailored to meet each individual’s needs. Using district and school goals, strengths, and challenges as means of development, we partner to embed supports that are part of the day-to-day work of the participants. RTI provides leaders the tools and resources they need to solve their most pressing issues that will result in sustainable performance. Ultimately, our goal is to assist schools and districts in their efforts to strengthen the leadership pipeline.

Group of people talking in a meeting

Therefore, leadership development occurs at every stage in the leadership journey: teacher to teacher leader to assistant principal to principal to central office leader to superintendent. Using a combination of leadership theory, best practices paired with application and practice, and ongoing reflection, leaders are able to grow professionally and develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to advance to the next level of leadership.

RTI provides leadership development for individuals, cohorts of leaders, and teams. For individuals, emphasis is placed on topics that include developing an understanding of strengths-based leadership and developing strategies to build buy-in around school and district vision, goals, and initiatives with key stakeholders. For teams, RTI focuses on bolstering vertical development, individual ownership of development, and collaborative problem-solving strategies through the following cyclical process:



A process to build understanding of local context and establish an assessment of readiness. During Discovery, a relevant dilemma to serve as the focal point of the engagement is established. In addition, the team identifies a specific leadership competency area upon which to focus development efforts.



A co-designed approach that involves a process to sharpen understanding of the dilemma and to map the approach to action. This phase includes data gathering, target setting and planning with each of the team members. Analysis concludes with the development of a formal action plan and agreed upon measures of growth.


Action Cycle

A blend of direct support to solve an immediate dilemma with competency-focused team development. The Action Cycle includes a deliberate focus on reflective practice as the previously developed action plan is executed. At the conclusion of each action cycle, a brief period of evaluation and refinement takes place to measure growth and refine the approach.

Project Examples

RTI partners with innovative schools, districts, states, and organizations to address education challenges. Here we highlight two of those partnerships.

Cumberland County Schools

Cumberland County Schools, in collaboration with RTI, developed a Leadership Empowerment and Administration Development (LEAD) program for assistant principals that aspire to be principals. Through a year-long, cohort-based leadership development approach, LEAD prepares assistant principals for the demands and rigors of principalship that includes group workshops, team development, and reflection opportunities.

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District has a strong history of leadership development, with the Learning Leadership Institute (LLI) acting as a valuable professional learning mechanism for school-based leaders. RTI has been supporting the yearly LLIs to create a sense of community where leaders see themselves as part of a culture of learning. Through customized professional learning, RTI is building the professional capacity of leaders to understand and develop their own competencies in research-based practices such as those that support pedagogical practices that support academic rigor and building a school culture of opportunity for all.

Leadership Development Experts

Our Education Services team is led by former teachers, principals, administrators, policy experts, and strategists who have the practical experience to translate ideas into action.


LaChawn Smith

Education Consultant

Center for Education Services

Dr. LaChawn Smith is an education consultant with more than 30 years of professional experience in Pre-K-12 education working with school-based and district...


Years in Public Education

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Expert in Education Leadership


Chelsea Smith

Education Consultant

Center for Education Services

Dr. Chelsea Smith is an education consultant with over 12 years of experience as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, and principal. All of Smith’s...

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Expert in Leadership Development

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Expert in Teaching and Learning