Books

Making Change Happen

Reviewed by Frank Kelly

Executive Director, Canadian Association of School Administrators, Oakville, Ontario

 

School leadership is a complex task. The effective principal masters a multitude of skills and then learns how to use these skills when interacting with staff and community members. The leader who improves the quality of learning must understand the process of change and transmit that passion to others.

 

Bill Lamperes, author of Making Change Happen, was the principal of Centennial High School in Fort Collins, Colo., where he coordinated the successful transformation of a school on the brink of closing. He started with what he calls a “vision of earning a diploma” and spread this vision into everything that might have an impact on students and staff. During his 12 years at Centennial, Lamperes set clear targets for attendance, involvement and achievement.

 

His book is filled with practical lessons in direct leadership. Each section is a formula for how to accomplish a specific task. It starts with a plan of analyzing the school culture to determine how to move forward. Then the principal explains his techniques for mobilizing staff to build a different outcome. Lamperes details the communication plans he used to share information with the school community, gather responses, establish the vision and bring the school community to a commitment to make it happen.

 

In analyzing the political side of administration, Lamperes offers tips for harnessing internal and external forces. New principals and central-office administrators will benefit especially from his specific references on how to court key people and develop professional relationships.

Making Change Happen is a well-organized reference starting with the author’s commitment to the task at Centennial and ending with his reflections on the cycles of vision and change.

 

(Making Change Happen: Shared Vision, No Limits by Bill Lamperes, Rowman and Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2005, 259 pp., $34.95 softcover)