Leadership Academy Program Details Leadership Academy Program Details Leadership Academy Program Details Leadership Academy Program Details Leadership Academy Program Details
School of Graduate and Professional Studies

Leadership Academy


Colleen Transier
+1 630 637 5749

Leadership Academy - BE the leader who makes the difference


The North Central College Leadership Academy, offered in partnership with IL ASCD, prepares and supports school leaders in utilizing character and virtue education as the foundation for interaction among students, faculty and staff in a school setting. This yearlong program, delivered through a virtual format, features conversations with well-known speakers and thought leaders in the field of character education and school leadership.

Why Character Education?

Character and leadership go hand in hand. Effective leaders build community within their schools and are able to retain high-quality teachers, which translates to enhanced student outcomes.  Further, the goal of a good education is to prepare students academically and to nurture them as individuals who become resilient, empathetic, and contented adults.

Who Should Attend?

  • Preschool, elementary and secondary building and district level administrative leaders.
  • Individual or group registrations are welcome.

Why this Leadership Academy?

  • The Leadership Academy is like no other professional learning experience. It was designed with administrative input to ensure target outcomes are met while focusing on structures of support for today’s leaders.
  • The programming model allows for engagement with speakers, colleagues, and experts in the field.
  • The online presentation structure encourages morning and afternoon interaction while providing time mid-day to attend to professional needs.
  • Connection sessions with a Professional Learning Network supports practical and personalized application.
  • Mini-grant opportunities provide leaders with funds (up to $5000) to support implementation within their building.

What are the Projected Outcomes?

  • Learn from world-renowned thought-leaders in the field of Character Education.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of how to foster a virtue-driven Culture of Character within a school community.
  • Explore opportunities for self-reflection, self-awareness and professional growth.
  • Connect and engage with a diverse network of colleagues encompassing a variety of perspectives and ideas.
  • Acquire Administrator Academy credit (March 3, 2022 session).
  • Work collaboratively with a professional coach to develop and submit a personalized mini-grant proposal rooted in Cultures of Character that will directly impact students and communities.

“As a former teacher, principal and assistant superintendent, I feel it was uncommon to access the level of support that is being offered through the yearlong NCC Leadership Academy. As the demands on school leaders continue to increase, and time for professional growth becomes less available, the opportunity to participate in this enriching opportunity will have tremendous impact on school leaders, and that in turn serves to benefit students, parents, faculty, and staff.”

Colleen Transier, Ed.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Education and Coordinator of the Leadership Academy, North Central College

Academy Format

Year At A Glance


  • 4 Leadership full day sessions with professional speakers followed by guided reflective and application sessions. 
    • Morning Session 9:00 - 11:30 am
    • Afternoon Session 1:00 - 3:00 pm
      • October 21, 2021 
      • December 9, 2021 
      • January 20, 2022
      • March 3, 2022


  • Connection opportunities designed to develop participants' professional learning network and provide guidance on applying the material presented by speakers. These sessions will be facilitated by respected thought leaders in the field of leadership and character virtue education. Academy participants may self-select the date and time that works best for them each month. 


  • Tuesday November 9, 2021: 4:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Wednesday November 10, 2021 9:30 – 10:30 am


  • Monday January 10, 2022 4:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday January 11, 2022 9:30 am – 10:30 pm


  • Wednesday February 16, 2022 9:30 – 10:30 am
  • Thursday February 17, 2022 4:00 – 5:00 pm


  • Monday April 11, 2022 9:30 – 10:30 am
  • Tuesday April, 12 2022 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Grant Project Planning

  • A Cultures of Character Project will integrate learning from all aspects of the Leadership Academy including the professional speakers’ series, guided facilitation sessions, and extended reflection experiences. At the conclusion of the 2021-2022 Academy, those who have fully participated will be eligible to submit a proposal for a mini-grant of up to $5,000 to implement an initiative designed to influence the school’s culture of character.

“IL ASCD has a 15-year tradition of offering the Leadership Institute and the program continues to evolve to serve the ever-changing priorities of administrators and school leaders. We are excited to partner with North Central College by offering ongoing learning, teaming, and coaching experiences in our first annual Leadership Academy.”

Ryan Nevius, Executive Director IL ASCD

Download the Leadership Academy Flyer

  • October 21 Inspirational - A Culture of Character
    • Speaker:  Clifton Taulbert
    • Topic: The Eight Habits of the Heart and an Entrepreneurial Mindset
    • More information


  • December 9 Foundational - A Culture of Character Matters
    • Speaker:  Anthony Muhammad
    • Topic: Cultivating healthy school cultures & creating positive environments in which staff not only tolerate change but also seek and embrace changes
    • More information


  • January 20th  First Steps - A Culture of Character Paradigm


  • March 3rd Forward thinking - Cultivating a Culture of Character
    • Speaker:  Michael Fullan
    • Administrator Academy Credit Available
    • Topics:
      • Make a deep impact today that leaves a growing legacy for tomorrow.
      • Learn to lead well. 
      • Use six specific leadership attributes to stimulate deep learning—and deep leadership—that transforms schools for the future.
    • More information

“Our goal is to acknowledge, appreciate, and serve educational leaders. Through a generous grant donation, we have been able to dream big and design an experience that will be inspirational, insightful, and impactful. We are offering access to prominent thought-leaders and providing support structures for enacting personalized school improvement planning. This unique learning opportunity has limited availability and requires advanced registration.”

Sharon Wysoglad, Character Education Project Director, North Central College

Meet our Character Thought Leaders 

These professionals are thought leaders in the field of leadership and character virtue education. They will lead group breakout sessions and conduct one on one virtual visits with participants throughout the year to develop participants' professional learning network and provide guidance on applying the material presented during the virtual learning days. Read full biographies here.

Suzanne Bright, Ed.D. - President and CEO of Orca Solutions

  • In her role with Orca, she partners with schools and districts across the country in developing and sustaining caring and high-performing school communities.
  • Mentors aspiring principals through the Center for Character and Citizenship
  • Worked with the U.S. Department of Education research project which yielded an evidence-based character education process proven to increase school-wide academic performance and improve culture and climate.
  • Served as principal of a National School of Character in Missouri

Julie Frugo, Ed.D. - CEO/Superintendent of Premier Charter School

  • Founding member and Teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal of the first charter school in St. Louis, MO (Premier Charter School)
  • Created a new framework of leadership called Professional Growth Leadership and collaborated with peers to create the Connected Leader Framework
  • Frequent speaker at ASCD national conferences, the Association for Moral Education, Character Education Partnership and Learning Forward.

Matthew J. Klosterman - Retired Superintendent of Schools, Belleville District 118

  • 36 year career in public education
  • Served in roles including Director of Pre-K, Director of Title I, Director of Special Education, Principal and Assistant Superintendent of Schools with Belleville District 118
  • Led multiple schools to both State and National School of Character designations, and led Belleville School District 118 to National District of Character recognition

Kristen Pelster, Ed.S. - Programming Consultant, Center for Character and Citizenship; Senior Director of Programming, CharacterPlus

  • Led a turnaround of Ridgewood Middle School to its recognition as one of Missouri's Top Ten Most Improved Schools and a National School of Character
  • Named St. Louis Region Middle School Principal of the Year
  • Testified before the United States Senate on the positive impact “social, emotional and character development” has on students regardless of their circumstance.

Julie Sperry, Ed.D. - Director of Leadership Academies, CharacterPlus

  • Served as Leadership Development Specialist and Training Facilitator for Missouri Department of Education
  • Former Executive Director of CharacterPlus and Director of Regional Professional Development Center at EducationPlus
  • Led Brentwood Middle School to State and National School of Character distinctions

The Cultures of Character Project will integrate learning from all aspects of the Leadership Academy including the professional speakers’ series, guided facilitation sessions, and extended reflection experiences. At the conclusion of the 2021-2022 Academy, those who fully participate will be eligible to submit a proposal outlining an initiative designed to influence the school’s culture.

As a result of the generous donation from the Kern Family Foundation, mini-grants of up to $5,000, which includes implementation guidance by a professional coach, will be awarded. 

More details will be provided to those enrolled in the Leadership Academy launching October 21, 2021.

In July of 2021, North Central College was highlighted as a Gold-Level Sponsor for the 4th Annual SEL Summit hosted by IL ASCD and Mindful Practices. Over 250 educators and leaders joined the two-day professional learning event.  Presenters sponsored by North Central delivered messages targeting the impact of a leader’s character. As a result of the dynamic partnership between North Central and IL ASCD a 2021-2022 Leadership Academy is planned to expand on opportunities available to learn and network with thought leaders and world-renown speakers focusing on school improvement through the lens of character-infused practices.

Joe Sanfelippo

Lead From Where You Are:  Leadership is not a title, it’s an action...and it starts from within. Identifying leadership traits in yourself changes your mindset when thinking about leading those around you. Part of our responsibilities as leaders are to identify leadership traits in others. The opportunities are endless for those who choose to lead...it’s our job to find those traits, focus our efforts on growth opportunities, and foster an environment where everyone has a chance to lead. 

Thomas Murray  

 Staying Personal & Authentic in the Midst of Adversity:  The pandemic has brought uncertainty at every turn. Regardless of what happens outside our school walls, together we can work to create meaningful opportunities for those we serve when we hyper-focus on the things that matter most. The work is hard, but our kids are worth it! 

Culture of Character Presenters

Jay Darley

The "Character" of an I.E. School:  Join us to learn about Forest Park Individual Education School (Joliet IL) an elementary magnet program where character skills are embedded into every part of the school culture. Hear testimonials from students, parents, and the Principal of a 2020 National School of Character. 

Vicki Zakrzewski

How Educators Can Help Build a Kinder, More Equitable World: The work of educators shapes human beings—which means that education helps shape our world. So how can formal education play a role in helping educators build a kinder, more compassionate and equitable world?

Amy Eva

Creating a Culture of Self-Care and Emotional Resilience: “Self-care is not a luxury. It is a human requisite, a professional necessity, and an ethical imperative,” say psychologists.  If we want to transform our educational system, we need to start with our school leaders and teachers


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