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Leading Together: Strengthening Relational Trust in Schools

“Leading Together has all the critical features needed to become a model for school change: effective school leadership, positive adult relationships in schools, and relational trust.”
– Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman, University of Virginia, Final Report

Leading Together supports whole school change by bringing the principles and practices of the Courage to Teach® program into schools. This evidence-based professional development program supports whole school change initiatives by strengthening shared leadership, positive relationships, and relational trust in the adult community.

To receive more information about this project, contact Margaret Golden at  Also meet the Leading Together team.


“Leading Together gives teachers and staff more energy and more capacity for doing the hard work that they’re doing back in schools.”
— Margaret Golden, Program Director

“Building trust will be ongoing. We’ll always have to be thinking about each other and how we build a stronger school for our students, as well as keep ourselves healthy.”
— School Leader

Research indicates that the degree of relational trust among adults in a school is a key variable in the success of school reform initiatives and their ability to raise student achievement. Leading Together has all the critical features needed to become the model for school change.

Leading Together focuses on shifting school culture by:

  • Cultivating self-awareness and internal accountability
  • Improving communication
  • Building connection and community
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Strengthening listening and reflecting
  • Sharpening focus and attention
  • Addressing conflict constructively


Research Based:

Palmer, Parker J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, 20th Anniversary ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

Bryk, Anthony S., and Barbara L. Schneider. Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement, The Rose Series in Sociology. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002.

Rimm-Kaufman, Sara E., Micela Leis and Carol Paxton. Innovating Together to Improve the Adult Community in Schools: Results from a Two-Year Study of the Initial Implementation of Leading Together. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia, June 26, 2014.

Bond, Nora. Leading Together Program Evaluation. Medford, MA: Tufts University, August 2016.


This work is shifting how people view each other as coworkers, as educators, as people deserving of mutual regard. Operationalizing the how of being a respectful community is possible in a classroom. Creating this for adults in schools is paramount.
– Nora Bond, Tufts University, Final Report


How to Build Trust in Schools. See this article in the Huffington Post (February 20, 2015) by Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., Education Director, Greater Good Science Center.


Research shows that the degree of relational trust among the adults in a school is a key variable in the success of school reform initiatives and their ability to raise student achievement. The consequences of this lack of community and connection are stark:

The Challenge - Education Statistics3-4 YEARS Average tenure for principals in public schools.

46% Number of teachers who leave the profession within the first 5 years.

$7 BILLION A YEAR Annual dropout rate for teachers is higher than the annual dropout rate for students in some urban school systems.

3-5 YEARS Cost of that teacher attrition.

When educators collaborate in an environment that invites them to bring their best selves to work each day, students and schools flourish. Our pilot program, Leading Together: Building Adult Community in Schools, addresses this need.

Because of your support, more teachers and school leaders are working to overcome these staggering facts by using Courage & Renewal practices to build relational trust.


Be a part of our work.