Focus on Leadership

"My goal is to increase teacher effectiveness more through dialogue and reflection than through mere measurement and externally-imposed accountabilities."
Tom Stekol, Ed.D.
Director, Employment
Development & Evaluation

Dr. Tom Stekol is currently the Director of Employee Development and Evaluation for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In this capacity, he is responsible for the direction and execution of comprehensive professional development programs designed to increase the knowledge and skill of school-site administrators in all areas related to teacher evaluation. In the 2010-11 school year, over 800 school-site administrators in the Los Angeles Unified School District participated in a series of professional development modules created by Dr. Stekol.

Dr. Stekol earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984. He subsequently earned a Masters of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1988, after which he decided to return to California, where he began his teaching career at 66th Street School in Los Angeles. Four years later he earned his second Masters Degree from Pepperdine University in Education Administration and began serving as the Title I/Bilingual Coordinator of 122nd Street School. Fifteen months later, he became Assistant Principal of 102nd Street School and after two years of service, moved on to Sherman Oaks Elementary School where he served as Principal for five years. It was during his tenure at Sherman Oaks Elementary School that Dr. Stekol began his doctoral studies at the University of California Irvine as part of the joint UCI/UCLA Ed.D. program in 1999.

As Principal of Sherman Oaks Elementary School, I began to focus intently on transforming the teacher evaluation process from a perfunctory exercise to one that could yield personal insights and professional growth.

This work became the focus of Dr. Stekol's doctoral studies, which he continued after his promotion to the position of Field Director in the LAUSD’s Office of Staff Relations. As a Field Director, Dr. Stekol guided school-site administrators through the rigors of the LAUSD-UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement with special emphasis on the areas of evaluation and discipline. In 2006, Dr. Stekol completed his Ed.D. with the submission of his dissertation titled: Enhancing Teacher Understanding of Evaluation Criteria through Guided Reflective Writing. Dr. Stekol’s research examined how teachers could improve both their understanding of evaluation criteria based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession and the application of that understanding to the improvement of their teaching practice.

Dr. Stekol’s research led him quite naturally to the work he now pursues as the Director of Employee Development and Evaluation. With considerable attention now being paid to the prospect of statistically-algorithmic forms of evaluation, Dr. Stekol focuses on essential fundamentals of teacher evaluation that are seldom developed and easily overlooked. Using a constructivist approach, Dr. Stekol guides school-site administrators in processes of development designed to be self-sustaining.

Through a program of professional development modules, administrators learn how to lead in a collective bargaining environment, how to develop and understand evaluative criteria, how to use data with teachers, how to observe effectively, how to offer feedback, and, ultimately, how to build effective teacher teams in their schools.

Dr. Stekol’s expectation is to increase teacher effectiveness more through dialogue and reflection than through mere measurement and externally-imposed accountabilities.