Responding to “How Finland Broke Every Rule – and Created a Top School System”


Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing, screen-based schools & loosened teacher qualifications, try warmth, collaboration, & highly professionalized, teacher-led encouragement & assessment.

Educational leaders,

For years we have talked about why countries like Switzerland, China, & Finland grossly outperform America in the educational arena. As we embark on the precipice of the shift happening in public education, it is time to take a critical lens to the nuts & bolts behind these countries’ success. Finland has long been known for creating a system of top-notch educators, shattering the status quo in teacher preparation, & providing students with quality learning environments that truly embrace them where they are. This article, How Finland broke every rule – and created a top school system by William Doyle further expounds on this country’s success through his experience in a Finnish 4th grade classroom.

American school teachers & school leaders who battle with classroom management programs, procedures, & processes could glean major takeaways from Finland’s approach. According to 4th grade Finnish teacher, Jussi Hietava, he allows his students “to slouch, wiggle & giggle from time to time if they want to, since that’s what children are biologically engineered to do, in Finland, America, Asia & everywhere else.” With respect to the biological mindset & proclivities of an elementary-aged students, Finnish schooling works with students natural selves versus against it creating a peaceful & effective progression for both the student & the teacher to continue exploring the teaching & learning process.

Not only does the system embrace children mentally, but they also embrace teacher leaders as the professionals they are. Doyle notes that teacher leaders are, “not strait-jacketed by bureaucrats, scripts or excessive regulations, but have the freedom to innovate & experiment as teams of trusted professionals.” With such elevated status matching that of medical doctors, lawyers, & Harvard professors, Finnish teachers are highly coveted professionals that require a Masters degree along with specializations simply to lead a classroom! This speaks volumes to the level of systemic impact possible for other countries that do not place the same value on the teaching profession. As Time magazine so poignantly conveyed the plight that American public school teachers face simply to make ends meet, there are far-reaching takeaways that we can take from the Finnish system in taking the first steps to re-branding American public education.

Check out the full article below, & I want to hear from other school leaders & teacher leaders. What are some other takeaways we can glean from international public education? What course of action is necessary to begin re-branding the American public school system?

OPINION: How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system


Shifting the Conversation III | Rebrand NC Education

Rebrand NC Education hosted its third Shifting the Conversation at NC State University with the theme “Future Focused Schools Led by Future Focused Leaders.” As leaders from across the state gathered at the Talley Student Center we engaged in interactive & innovative discussion around creating 21st century learning environments for 21st century learners. RE-Brand NC Education featured two keynote speakers – Dr. Latoya Dixon, Director of Innovation for the South Carolina Department of Education & Adam Dovico, principal of Moore Elementary & former curriculum director for the Ron Clark Academy! Both speakers challenged our ideals & approach to public education, offered insight on ways to transform school culture, & ultimately provided tools for school leaders to rebrand the narrative around teaching & learning.

We are proud to be recognized & featured by EdNC, one of the leading sources of educational news, data, & analysis about education for the people of North Carolina. They featured a perspective on “Shifting the Conversation” on all of their media outlets & the response has been phenomenal. Check out our feature article below for full videos from Dr. Dixon & Mr. Dovico as they shared their expertise & knowledge with NC School leaders:



EdNC Feature: Shifting the Conversation| Rebrand NC Education

It is time for North Carolina school leaders to define innovative
school leadership for North Carolina schools.

As the co-founder of RE-Brand NC Education, I could not be more proud to be featured by EdNC as they highlight the work happening with RE-Brand NC Education. What started as a conversation with another like-minded change agent has developed into a passion project, labor of love, & interactive platform that is gaining momentum by the day. I am excited to shift the conversation around public education in NC & help to shatter the status quo for NC school leaders! Check out this awesome feature from EdNC & make sure to check out our platform at



Shifting the Conversation I | Rebrand NC Education

If you are not at the table, you are on the menu. Public education is on the menu.  –     Dr. Hemphill

It is time for school leaders to define innovation for public education. We invited a group of dynamic educational change agents to pull a chair up to the table in order to activate the dialogue surrounding innovation in the public education arena & to begin developing an arsenal of innovative tools & strategies for schools & classrooms across our state. Tune in to this “Shifting the Conversation: A Recap” to see what some of the leading transformational leaders across NC had to say about changing the educational game. We invite you & other educational leaders to join our “Shifting the Conversation” movement & to stay tuned for our next meeting in April 2018!

For more information or to join us at our next “Shifting the Conversation” event email

Leadership with Latoya – “Leaders on the Grow: Teacher Leadership Matters” Podcast

I was honored to be featured on the “Leadership with Latoya” podcast this morning with Dr. Latoya Dixon as a part of her “Leaders on the Grow” series! Teacher leadership is a growing area for conversation & research in the academic arena, so I was ecstatic to join Dr. Dixon for this worthwhile & timely discussion. Check out our conversation on teacher teachership & the changing landscape of public education by clicking on the link below. #teacherleadership #schoolleadership #leadershipwithlatoya #publiceducation #inspiration #education #motivation #scholar #moldmaker #scholarvlogger

Episode 10 Season 1: Teacher Leadership Matters


Dr. Mary Hemphill – 2017 NC Regional Principal of the Year Finalist

To say I’m grateful to represent & serve the students, faculty, staff, & community of IEJ Elementary is an understatement. I am in awe of what God can do & continues to do in my life. This year we focused on learning, literacy, & leadership, & I am truly a PROUD PRINCIPAL! Blessed beyond meausre to serve the Sandhills region this year! Let’s revolutionize education! #blessed #grateful #proudprincipal #studentsfirst#teacherleadership #regionalprincipal #inspiration #education #motivation#scholar #moldmaker #scholarvlogger

Hemphill Notches Regional Principal of the Year Honor

Thank you so much to #MeredithCollege for this wonderful article & continuous support! I am a proud Angel alum & an even prouder public school principal. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to represent my district & region! #proudprincipal #publicandproud #fearless #blessed #inspiration#education #motivation #scholar #moldmaker #scholarvlogger

Click here to check out the feature by Meredith College:


Puckering Up for AR Points

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday in the month of March, we challenged our IEJ Jets to read 10,000 AR points, & yesterday was the big celebration! If students met their goal, I had to pucker up to a pig named Holly…sheesh! Literacy unlocks the door to all other learning so I puckered up! #studentsfirst #beingfearless #ARCelebration #anythingforthekids #studentsfirst #literacymatters #inspiration #education #motivation #moldmaker #scholarvlogger

Check out our school’s Facebook page for the live video here:


When the Only Real Choice Is Private: My Unlikely Attraction to School Vouchers | by Marilyn Rhames

I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Marilyn Rhames at an educational event in DC this past week. Marilyn has taught in district and charter schools in Chicago since 2004 & now serves as an alumni support manager at a K-8 charter school, helping graduates persist through high school and on to college and careers. Rhames authors a popular self-titled blog for Education Post. A 2016 Surge Institute fellow, Rhames is dedicated to promoting more diverse education leadership to improve the education of students of color. She was also a Teach Plus teaching policy fellow in Chicago from 2010 to 2012.  In 2011, Rhames founded the Christian nonprofit Teachers Who Pray, which to date has more than 70 school chapters nationwide.




This particular blog is a dynamic piece that speaks to the realities of parent choice & public education as it relates to school vouchers! I appreciate Marilyn sharing her experience as it sheds light on the realities that parents are facing in the cornucopia of issues surrounding public education. Check out her blog here & leave a comment on this unique perspective:


How to Relax | Self-Care Saturdays

Check out the first video in my Self Care Saturdays series. We live in an age where productivity & busy schedules go hand in hand. But moldmakers that do not take care of themselves are not nearly as effective as leaders, movers, & shakers. Here are some tips to help you relax & take care of YOU! Make sure you subscribe to the Scholar Vlogger for more inspiration, education, & motivation for moldmakers!