Book Reviews

Designing the School Leader’s Portfolio

by Mary E. Dietz

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel
Superintendent, Spokane, Wash., Public Schools

As we strive to develop our school systems as learning organizations, building the capacity of leaders is essential. Mary E. Dietz, a noted consultant, contributes a thoughtful, simple yet powerful methodology to link personal development to the essential work of the school district. Designing the School Leader’s Portfolio uses a solid theoretical base to create a useful how-to manual. The busy school administrator can find useful ways to design a strategic linkage between the district’s mission and the individual work of each school administrator and schools.

Dietz uses the portfolio process as a tool to implement the strategic connection between individuals and their organization. She builds on the solid foundational work of Wheatley, Senge, Sergiovanni and others to provide a step-by-step methodology for advancing in-depth dialogue centered on linking a district’s mission to the personal actions of individual leaders.

Her process starts with a suggested strategy to intensify the purpose of each leader’s work. It then describes ways to focus that work, create a learning plan, develop relationships and measure results.

The simple four-step outline contained in this working manual can be adapted and applied to a variety of leadership challenges, including those faced by superintendents. For example, the process might be adapted to use with the school board in developing a working strategic plan. It is also a framework for devising training for the next generation of principal and district leaders.

(Designing the School Leader’s Portfolio by Mary E. Dietz, SkyLight Professional Development, 2626 S. Clearbrook Drive, Arlington Heights, Ill. 60005, 2001, 144 pp., $24.95 softcover. Available from