BookNook Insights

Culture of Achievement: Insights from Dr. Deborah L. Wortham


In our quest to help schools deliver an excellent and equitable education, BookNook partnered with renowned educational leader Dr. Deborah L. Wortham. In a recent webinar, Dr. Wortham shared her expertise in creating a culture of achievement to transform low-performing schools into successful institutions. Here are the key takeaways from the webinar, including some of  Dr. Wortham’s insights.

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Dr. Deborah L. Wortham is an accomplished educator, author, and national speaker with extensive experience in turning around underperforming schools. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her dedication to educational equality and excellence. Connie Warren, Content Marketing Manager for BookNook, served as the moderator for the webinar. With over 20 years of experience in education, Connie continues to make a positive impact for students.

Discovering the “Why”

A personal experience fueled Dr. Wortham’s journey in education. As a teenager, she cared for her sister, Laurie, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Laurie’s words resonated deeply, encouraging Dr. Wortham to be the best she could be. Driven by a desire to help others, she embarked on a mission to make a lasting impression on the world through education.

Challenges in Low-Performing Schools

Dr. Wortham discussed common challenges in low-performing schools and how they can be used as fuel for future success. She emphasized that the effort required to transform a low-performing school is no different from what it takes to maintain a high-performing one. Belief systems, embracing a growth mindset, and creating systemic stamina were key elements for success.

Strategies for Success

Dr. Wortham shared several strategies she has used to fuel success in low-performing schools. She highlighted the importance of reflection, taking ownership, and creating a cohesive culture. Dr. Wortham emphasized the power of collaboration and shared responsibility by finding and teaching students, monitoring their progress, and emphasizing the community’s role in ensuring all students graduate on time.

The Role of Instructional Leadership

Dr. Wortham discussed her role as an instructional leader and how she empowered campus leadership to do the same. She emphasized the significance of inspiring individuals to fulfill their purpose and prioritize student voice. By fostering a culture of collaboration through morning messages, learning walks, and embracing student, teacher, and family voices, Dr. Wortham created a sense of community and unity within her districts.

Vitalizing Voices

Dr. Wortham highlighted the importance of vitalizing voices and enabling students, teachers, and families to actively participate in shaping their educational experience. By encouraging students to advocate with excellence and creating platforms for dialogue, such as student circles, teacher circles, and meetings with clergy, Dr. Wortham continues to empower stakeholders and strengthen community engagement.

Dr. Deborah L. Wortham’s insights during the webinar provided valuable guidance on creating a culture of achievement in both low-performing and high-performing schools. By reflecting on her personal “why,” addressing common challenges, implementing effective strategies, and prioritizing vitalized voices, educators can create environments that motivate and empower students and teachers alike. BookNook’s online learning platform is a valuable resource for achieving these goals, enabling students to become confident and capable readers on the path to success.

Watch the webinar
Listen to the podcast