Season 4, Episode 13 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Dwight Carter

by | May 10, 2023 | 0 comments

6 min read

Learning to “Be Great” with Dwight Carter 

This is Season 4, Episode 13 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Dwight Carter. It was originally recorded live for a virtual audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware Academy for School Leadership, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Dwight Carter tells us about being great as a school leader, his five principles of leadership…and so much more.


Dwight Carter Brings Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners

Dwight Carter is a nationally recognized school leader from Central OH and has been an educator for 27 years. He is currently the Director of Student Support Systems for the Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools District. 

Here are just a few of his awards and accolades:


  • He was inducted into the Jostens Renaissance Educator Hall of Fame. 


  • He was named a National Association of Secondary School Principals Digital Principal of the Year


  • He was an Academy of Arts and Science Education High School Principal of the Year


  • He was the 2015 Ohio Alliance of Black School Educators Principal of the Year


  • And he was a 2021 Columbus Afrocentric Early College Sankofa Emerging Leader Award winner. 


He is the co-author of three books: What’s In Your Space? Five Steps to Better School and Classroom Design (Corwin, 2015), Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How to Survive Hyper-change (Corwin 2017), and the second edition of Leading Schools in Disruptive Times (Corwin, 2021).


His newest book is Be Great: Five Principles to Improve School Culture from the Inside Out


FocusED Show Notes with Dwight Carter

Dwight starts with a simple definition of culture: the accepted behaviors within the organization.

Dwight runs us through the five competencies of school culture. 

  1. Be Grateful 
  2. Be Relational 
  3. Be Enthusiastic 
  4. Be Authentic 
  5. Be teachable 

Joe asks about simple steps that adults can take. Dwight responds with the first principle about gratitude.  

Dwight talks about “what we can control” and brings up the topic of hyper-change. We have total control over our attitudes and actions. 

Don’t miss what Dwight says about the difference between being a “doormat” and a “doorway.”

Dwight reminds us of a Todd Whitaker quote: “When the principal sneezes, everyone catches a cold.” 

What Dwight talks about in terms of “teachable” reminded us of our work in an effort to create learning cultures. 

Don’t miss what he says about the difference between “being judgemental” and “evaluating others.”

Dwight is calling for a shift from teaching to learning–moving from a focus on what teachers are doing to a focus on what students are doing. 

Another shift that Dwight wants to see has to do with assessment and grading. We couldn’t agree more. 

Dwight mentions the book, Because of a Teacher, Volumes One and Two

Dwight highlights the work of his superintendent, Kim Miller, and the book that she has her team reading, The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.

Dwight wants more to be written about our fear of equity. He tells us that equity is not a zero-sum game. Everyone stands to gain.  

He reminds us of CAT–cope, adjust, and transform. 

Dwight Carter Quotes from FocusED

Be specific when showing gratitude. ~ Dwight Carter

The only two things we can control are our attitude and actions, which requires high levels of self-awareness and self-control. ~ Dwight Carter 

There’s a difference between reacting and responding. ~ Dwight Carter 

To be teachable means the willingness to learn. ~ Dwight Carter 

As an assistant principal, one of your most important jobs is to make your principal’s job easier. The best way to do that is to do your job well. ~ Dwight Carter

You can’t be out-happy, happy. It’s important to be happy in your role. ~ Dwight Carter 

We live in a gray world. There’s nuance to everything. ~ Dwight Carter 

Related School Leadership Content from TheSchoolHouse302

Douglas Reeves Joins Joe and T.J. on the Leading Better & Growing Faster Podcast

Steven Covey Joins Joe and T.J. for a Conversation about Trust

Passionate Leadership


Thanks for listening to FocusED, an educational leadership podcast brought to you by TheSchoolHouse302 @, where we publish free leadership content. Go to the site, subscribe, and you’ll get all of our content sent directly to your email. 

 FocusED is your educational leadership podcast where our mission is to dissect a particular focus for teachers and school leaders so that you can learn to lead better and grow faster in your school or district. Let us know who you would like to hear from next.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Resources for You

Grab a Copy of One of Our Books:

Invest in Your Best: 9 Strategies to Grow, Support, and Celebrate Your Most Valuable Teachers
Click to pre-order it on Amazon

7 Mindshifts for School Leaders: Finding New Ways to Think About Old Problems.
Order it Here

Retention for a Change is an Amazon Best Seller and our Latest Book: Order it Here
Have you read Candid and Compassionate Feedback? Click here to order from Amazon.
Passionate Leadership is an Amazon Best Seller. Click here to order today.
Click here to order from Amazon.