Defining problems.

Designing solutions.

Driving transformation.


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About Education Partnerships

Working with leaders to navigate the complexity of school system transformation and improve teaching and learning through a social justice lens.

System-level public education leaders have tremendous responsibilities and face numerous, complex challenges. Leadership turnover at the top makes it difficult to sustain practices and positive change. School system leaders often feel very isolated in their practice. Internal leadership and management capacity building is often lacking at multiple levels.

Leaders of school systems seek to learn about and to implement adaptive change, with the goal of equity and excellence. And educators, families, and partners are looking to bridge the gaps that exist between schools, district offices, and communities. These are just some of the challenges facing system-level leaders.

PDK Education Partnerships does not offer one-size-fits-all solutions. Rather, we see ourselves as partners in the process of identifying complex challenges and designing and implementing sustainable, equity-minded, systems-level solutions that create lasting change and allow students, schools and communities to thrive.

For there to be a true sense of community, trust must exist. For me, trust was built with PDK during my transition into the role of Superintendent of the Renton School District in Washington state. Over a 6-month period, I partnered with PDK Solutions to help my executive team get clear about our mission, core values, and priorities for the 2017-18 school year. This work was critical to the successful launch of the school year and has provided clarity for our decisions as leaders.

Damien Pattenaude

Superintendent, Renton School District

The work of PDK in facilitating work around Equity and Opportunity resulted in valuable insights for our team as well as new tools to advance the work within our organization and community.  I was impressed with the level of preparation, understanding, and skill in navigating difficult conversations with a diverse group of participants.

Scott A. Menzel, Ph.D.

Superintendent, Washtenaw Intermediate School District

Our Approach

Our framework for change management rests on the following six elements, organized around a set of guiding and adaptive questions. Working with the school system’s leadership team and other relevant stakeholders, we perform a deep analysis of these six elements and then develop solutions based on each school system’s unique needs.


What do we believe about students, families, and communities and why?


How do we make decisions? Who’s involved, both formally and informally, and why?


How do we allocate time, people, and money according to our needs and vision?


What do children need to know and be able to do, and what do adults need to know and be able to do in service of children?


Who is doing the work and what are the systems and practices that ensure that people are continuously growing?


How do we interact with each other and our community in service of our goals?

We believe that system leaders need to learn how to engage those most affected in the definition of the problems and the design of solutions, and implement solutions through an adaptive approach with an equity lens. Our approach and actions are based on PDK’s core values: social justice, engagement, excellence, and results.

We do not offer one-size-fits-all solutions; rather, we work with the leadership team and others to ensure that they have a comprehensive understanding of their challenges and the necessary elements of success and an adaptive approach to make these changes.

Who We Are

Joshua P. Starr, Ed.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Joshua P. Starr has been the Chief Executive Officer of PDK International since July 2015. Dr. Starr has worked in public education since 1993, as a teacher, central office leader and Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Starr is a passionate champion for all students and is committed to ensuring that PDK International continues to serve as a unique and trusted voice that supports the teaching profession.

Read Josh’s Blog

Reginald Johnson, Ed.L.D.

Chief Program Officer

Dr. Reginald Johnson joined PDK in April 2017. Dr. Johnson brings experience as an educator, consultant, coach and system leader with a deep focus on issues of equity, instruction, family and community engagement, and leadership development. Dr. Johnson is passionate about improving opportunities and outcomes for young people and communities, especially those that have been marginalized and underserved.


PDK International is partnered with Curriculum Management Solutions, inc. (CMSi), a premier educational consulting group focused on curriculum auditing and evaluating the design and delivery of curriculum with all its incumbent processes and operations for nearly 40 years. In addition to providing options for curriculum audits for schools and districts, PDK and CMSi are partnering to provide a range of trainings and workshops to assist districts in everything from maximizing teacher capacity, to designing and developing curriculum, writing policies, and streamlining curriculum management processes. Audit Training provides an intensive look at the tools necessary to evaluate your system with a view to improving processes and focusing initiatives for improved student performance.

Josh and Gislaine provided much needed leadership and thought partnership during my transition process. Their work was excellent and has provided us with an essential tool in moving our work forward.

Dr. James Lane

Superintendent, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Chesterfield County Public Schools

The Challenge

In July 2016, James F. Lane started as the Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, a high-performing school division in Virginia with a long history of success. During his first six months, Dr. Lane met with hundreds of stakeholders to learn more about the school division and then engaged PDK Education Partnerships to help him create a transition plan.

The Solution

PDK Education Partnerships provided support to Dr. Lane with his transition into the superintendency. Through a three-month process, we examined existing documents and data and facilitated transition team engagement meetings, interviews, and focus groups. This led to the creation of a transition report with our insights into the issues identified by the superintendent and the culture of the district; our suggestions about short, near, and long-term priorities for the system; and questions and recommendations for the district to consider going forward.

New Haven Public Schools

The Challenge

Dr. Carol D. Birks assumed the leadership of New Haven Public Schools in March 2018, the second largest public school system in the state of Connecticut. Although there have been many achievements, like many urban school districts, New Haven Public Schools continues to face many challenges, including issues of equity throughout the system, significant financial constraints, and gaps in student opportunities and achievement levels, just to name a few. 

The Solution

PDK Education Partnerships facilitated the creation of a Transition Report that brought together approximately 70internal and external experts on five distinctive teams examining the areas of Learning and Teaching, Talent Management and Development, Family and Community Engagement, Organizational Efficiencies and Effectiveness, andEquity and Accessfor strengths, needs and recommendations.  Each team conductedobservations, interviews, and document analysis to then analyze, disseminate, and develop a Transition Reportto guide the work in New Haven Public SchoolsThe recommendations featured in the Transition Report were developed with an emphasis on bold and practical ideas based on political, financial and other constraints that exist and would best help transform New Haven Public Schools.

Community of Learning and Practice: Navigating the complexity of school system transformation.

PDK Education Partnerships launched the inaugural cohort of its Community of Learning and Practice in 2017. The cohort continued through 2019, engaging school systems leaders with a proven track record and commitment to leading for social justice, equity, and excellence. Our aim was to provide more support to system leaders with defining problems, designing solutions, and driving transformation through a social justice and equity lens. The cohort fostered collaboration, support, accountability and learning among participants, enabling a candid and productive dialogue focused on challenges and solutions.


Get In Touch

Interested in partnering with us? Want to learn more?

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By Phone:

(571) 335-0681

By Email:

By Mail:

1820 N Fort Myer Dr., Suite 320

Arlington, VA 22209

About PDK International

Established in 1906, PDK International supports teachers and school leaders by strengthening their interest in the profession through the entire arc of their career. We honor educators as professionals who learn daily from their work and want to share their knowledge with others to transform the lives of their students and their own specialized work. As a social sector organization, we elevate the discourse around teaching and learning with the goal of transforming the student experience to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education.

1820 N Fort Myer Dr., Suite 320,

Arlington, VA 22209

(571) 335-0681

(800) 766-1156

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