The NCUST Review: What Great Schools Do

The NCUST Review: What Great Schools Do

The NCUST Review podcast was designed to discuss topics grounded in the educational research of the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST). The mission of NCUST is to support district leaders, school personnel, and their communities with research-based practices, policies, and procedures that have successfully ensured equity and excellence for all children who enter their schools. The NCUST Review: What Great Schools Do podcast, hosted by award-winning school administrator and podcast host Debra McLaren, Ed.D, shares the stories and lived experiences of those schools, districts, and their leaders who have successfully transformed particularly urban schools into places where all students achieve academic proficiency, evidence a love of learning, and graduate well prepared to succeed in post-secondary education, the workplace, and their communities.


April 15, 2024 22 mins

Dr. Thiel is one of the executive coaches for NCUST working with school districts and their leaders to improve the educational outcomes for all students. Having served as a classroom teacher, elementary school principal, and district peer coach for several years, he eventually became the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the largest elementary school district in the state of California. Dr. Thiel was instrumental in e...

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Dr. Codrington has a track record for advancing and improving educational outcomes for all students. Most notably she opened the newest school in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and in its inaugural year realized tremendous academic achievement results with 81% of the students meeting or exceeding standards for English Language Arts and 72% meeting or exceeding standards for mathematics. Listen to this episode to learn m...

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February 12, 2024 20 mins

Dr. Matthews has served as superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, the San Jose Unified School District, the Inglewood Unified School District, and most recently the San Francisco Unified School District. Prior to serving in Inglewood, Dr. Matthews was credited with raising academic achievement in the San Jose Unified School District, narrowing the achievement gap between Latino and white students, and passing landma...

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January 16, 2024 27 mins

Principal Pantelidis is a two-time NCUST America’s Best Schools Award winner. Even though 87% of the students were Latino or Black, met low-income criteria, and none were admitted through selective processes, Patrick Henry School, in New York City’s East Harlem, continues to be one of the highest-performing schools in the state of New York. Find out in this episode of the NCUST Review what makes the difference and what great school...

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December 12, 2023 21 mins

In this episode of the NCUST Review, we will hear from Dr. Francisco Escobedo, the Executive Director of NCUST. Dr. Escobedo has served as principal, and superintendent, and is currently a member of the California State Board of Education. He has earned numerous awards and led his previous school district to achieve the “positive outlier” status from the Learning Policy Institute in 2019. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of...

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November 9, 2023 16 mins

Dr. Helen Griffith is the inaugural executive director and now superintendent of the Preuss School UCSD. She has won numerous awards for her leadership in education, particularly around equity advancement and diversity. She has had the privilege of opening three new schools in the county of San Diego, leaving a legacy of educational excellence. Discover the practices and procedures that Dr. Griffith has successfully implemented to ...

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October 18, 2023 19 mins

Dr. Joseph Johnson is the founding executive director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) at the San Diego State University Research Foundation (SDSURF). While serving at NCUST, he was also a professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University (SDSU), then dean of the College of Education, and finally the university’s interim provost and senior vice president. Earlier in his career, he serve...

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