Principles of Leadership: Essential Leadership Principles with Dr. Kamela Patton

August 29, 2023
James Kent


How do education leaders create systems to achieve predictable success? What are the essential leadership principles that the best educational leaders know to make a difference in learning every day? And most important: what lessons can people use to live life with passion and purpose to make a difference in the world and the students and communities that depend on these educators?

If there is a secret formula to answer these questions, it’s held in the Collier County, Florida, school district, comprised of over 48,000 students. Their recipe includes 5 conditions that support excellence in teaching, including a shared vision, instructional materials, professional learning, empowered leaders, and effective use of data. And their former head chef of these essential leadership principles is Dr. Kamela Patton. Dr. Patton received the honor of Florida’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. She was also a national finalist for 2022 Superintendent of the Year and 2021 Collier County Citizen of the Year.

On the Change Starts Here Podcast, host Dustin Odham seeks out the educational innovators who demonstrate transformational leadership and inspire others to do the same. Odham spoke with Dr. Patton on Change Starts Here to learn more about her twelve years as Collier County Superintendent and her philosophy on leadership principles.

Odham and Dr. Patton discuss following:

  • Solving the leadership gap in education
  • The ingredients that comprise a great superintendent
  • The essential leadership principles

“Another principle would be a crisis is not the time to build partnerships,” Dr. Patton said. “Here’s what I mean by that. In Florida, we have lots of Hurricanes. If you’ve not really worked with your county folks and worked with the EMS and all these folks ahead of the hurricane and a shelter opening, you’re in trouble. More generic in any school district today would be safety. You need to routinely meet with your local police, emergency management systems, and fire and rescue folks, and it’s not just talking; it’s practicing with these groups.”

Dr. Kamala Patton is an American educator who served as the superintendent of Collier County Public Schools from 2011 to 2023. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Tennessee, a Master of Education degree from Tusculum College, and a Doctor of Education degree in Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University.

Before she was appointed superintendent, Dr. Patton served as the Deputy Superintendent of Collier County Public Schools and held administrative positions in several other school districts in Florida and Tennessee. She has been recognized for her leadership and educational achievements, receiving awards such as the Florida Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year and the Florida Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Leadership Award.

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