Book Review                                              Page 45


My Life in School   


A Memoir

by Tom Sobol, Public Schools of Tomorrow, Scarsdale, N.Y., 2013, 216 pp. with index, $29.95 hardcover

My Life in School, a memoir by Tom Sobol, retired New York State commissioner of education and superintendent in Scarsdale, N.Y., imparts a powerful message to all educators.

Sobol sees American society today divided between those who want to dismantle the public school system and those who want to improve it. Some regard teachers as the problem and others see them as the solution, and when caught in such ideological divides, the author says, educators struggle to make the school day productive for children.

His insights aren’t at all bleak, though. Sobol inspires readers with hope that policymakers will listen to practitioners to ultimately settle on the most effective strategies to educate students in the 21st century.

In My Life in School, the author uses his own experiences and in-depth knowledge to provide school leaders with a renewed sense of hope and energy. He begins his story in childhood, as a student navigating the public schools, and then shows readers his path to some of the most desired education leadership posts anywhere, tracing his journey from the Scarsdale superintendency to state education commissioner to faculty member at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Sobol is a brilliant writer and shares an honest story of his personal and professional journeys, detailing the victories and triumphs as well as the obstacles and challenges he faced. His message may serve as a catalyst to encourage teachers to consider leadership positions in schools and districts. His memoir also provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on our roles in supporting the success of public education.

Reviewed by Diane E. Reed, associate professor and director, Graduate Educational Leadership Program, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, N.Y.


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