Season 5, Episode 6 of the FocusED School Leadership Podcast with Guest Lee Roland

by | Jan 23, 2024 | 0 comments

6 min read

Failure is Not an Option with Lee Roland

This is Season 5, Episode 6 of FocusED, and it features our guest, Lee Roland. It was originally recorded in front of a live audience in Delaware and provided as a professional development experience in collaboration with the Delaware Department of Education, Wilmington University, and The School House 302. Don’t miss what Lee Roland says about his journey as a school leader and radical change in schools.


Lee Roland Brings a Tons of Experience to FocusED Listeners


Lee Roland has been a leader in education and the community for more than 35 years. He has served as a teacher, administrator, Board member, principal, Executive Director, and pastor. 

Lee is a passionate speaker, practical trainer, and dedicated advocate for a better future for all. His book, Fantastic Voyage, chronicles his journey of leadership and radical change at Tulakes Elementary. 

Voyage Consulting was born out of a desire to inspire, equip, and empower others to believe, pursue, and achieve equity and success for all individuals, especially children, in our community.

FocusED Show Notes with Lee Roland

Lee starts by talking about his own confidence with writing a book and the encouragement he got from others when they visited his school and wanted him to document what he was doing so that others could replicate it. 

Lee wants readers to take his content and make it their own. “Take what he says, personalize it, put your name on it,” he says. We have to borrow from one another. 

Joe asks a direct question about imposter syndrome and Lee’s thoughts about writing and publishing a book. 

Lee jumps into the need for a growth mindset. “We can build anything.” 

Lee talked about his early years, and that failure was never an option. People always have looked to him for inspiration, and he has embraced the charge. 

He talks about how the staff and community are looking to school leaders for hope. 

Lee isn’t shy to point out that there’s often an elephant in the room…race and poverty are two that we have to face. 

Wearing uniforms made a difference in a school where many of the students didn’t have regular outfits. This created a team feel.

Lee addressed the thoughts and motivation that come from fear…the fear of change. He encourages school leaders to work with “designated leaders” as well as “undesignated leaders.” 

Don’t miss what he says about building relationships. “We’ve heard it said, but we have to make deposits with people.” ~ Lee Roland 

One sentiment that we take away from his message is that we have to lead with our hearts. People can feel it, and it’s contagious. 

Joe underscores that fear presents itself, but it’s often not real. 

Lee encourages the concept of “collaborative leadership.” What he says reminds of the “shirtless dancing guy video.” 

You’ll want to hear what he says about the fact that educators often return to schools to work in a scene of a “non-crime” but the community is often returning to school as a “scene of a crime” that they remember when they were in school.    

Listen to what Lee says about being intentional with every single event that the school hosts. 

Lee says that we make things too complicated. Just think about a student who doesn’t come to school regularly and what can happen if we get them to come to school 5 more days this year than last. 

Students at Lee’s school received an effort grade every day. This was born out of a desperate love for them and making sure that everyone worked toward excellence. 

Teach them well from bell-to-bell. ~ Lee Roland 

Lee wants to see a whole-child approach to learning (some call it social and emotional learning), but Lee says that we need to address trauma. Plus, he wants the energy in a school to be about the students. Every Student: “I am the agenda.” 

He points to Ron Edmonds’ work.  

As a final point, he tells listeners to “lead with love.” No one can follow if you don’t lead first. 

Related School Leadership Content Based on This Show

Black Students. Middle Class Teachers by Jawanza Kunjufu 

Balancing Care and High Expectations with Guest Joy Kelly 


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. 


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