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Growing for Justice - Book Cover

Growing for Justice

A Developmental Continuum of Leadership Capacities and Practices
By: Eleanor Drago-Severson, Jessica Blum-DeStefano, Deborah Brooks Lawrence

Joint Publication with Learning Forward

This groundbreaking book, drawn from a first-of-its-kind study, helps school leaders take concrete steps toward improved advocacy—wherever they are in their social justice journey.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781071818893
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2023
  • Page Count: 240
  • Publication date: April 03, 2023

Price: $39.95



Be the leader you want to see in the world.

Educators committed to social justice enter into the work in markedly different ways. Drawing from research with 50 educational leaders from across the United States, Growing for Justice explores how leaders committed to social justice support the growth of others while also developing their own capacities to engage, connect, and lead for change. This groundbreaking book, informed by adult developmental theory and based on a first-of-its-kind study, helps school leaders assess their own strengths and areas for growth—and then take concrete steps toward improvement. Features include:

  • Exploration of meaning-making systems and how they affect leaders’ understandings of diversity, equity, and social justice
  • A research-based, developmental model of justice-centering educational leadership capacities and practices
  • Leaders’ personal stories of growth and development as advocates
  • Planning activities and reflective exercises to drive decision-making, action, and internal capacity-building

Wherever you are in your social justice journey, wanting to do better is the first step toward actually doing better. With this book’s help, you’ll outline the supports, stretches, and scaffoldings you need to continually grow for justice.



Eleanor Drago-Severson photo

Eleanor Drago-Severson

Ellie Drago-Severson is Professor of Education Leadership and Adult Learning and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. A developmental psychologist, Ellie teaches, conducts research, and serves as a consultant to school and district leaders, systems leaders, and teacher leaders in public, charter and private schools and systems—on professional and personal growth and learning; leadership that supports principal, teacher, school, and leadership development; and coaching and mentoring in K–12 schools, university settings, and other adult education contexts domestically and internationally. She is also an internationally certified developmental coach who works with leaders to build internal capacity, lead on behalf of social justice, and grow systemwide capacity.

For more than three decades, Ellie’s research, teaching, and partnerships in the field have sought—synergistically—to explore, and extend the possibilities of adult development and developmental leadership as levers for internal capacity building at the individual, team, organizational, and societal levels. Her work explores interconnected streams that focus on: the connection between internal capacities and educational leaders’ practice on behalf of social justice, a developmental approach to feedback for growth, pressing challenges national and international educational leaders are facing and helping them to manage them, leadership preparation and development, a new, learning-oriented model for leadership development, supporting adult development in individuals and teams across and within systems, supporting diverse adult English Language Learners and those who serve them, and growing teacher leadership. Consonant with the urgent conversations about transforming schools, systems, and society as more learning- and equity-oriented contexts, her work foregrounds how we can support leaders’ internal capacity building in schools, organizations, and leadership preparation programs, and how these capacities inform the gifts leaders are able to give to those in their care, each other, and the world as they lead for social justice. Ellie loves opportunities to accompany school leaders in their vital work—and never takes it for granted. Instead, she considers it a gift.

At Teachers College, Ellie is director of the PhD Program in Educational Leadership, teaches aspiring and practicing principals in the Summer Principals Academy, aspiring superintendents in the Urban Educators Leaders Program, leaders from a variety of different sectors in the Accelerated Educational Guided Inquiry Studies (AEGIS) Program, and also coaches leaders in the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Leaders and in her private coaching practice to help leaders grow their practice and themselves. She also serves as faculty director and co-facilitator of the Leadership Institute for School Change at Teachers College. Ellie is author of the best-selling books Helping Teachers Learn (Corwin, 2004) and Leading Adult Learning (Corwin/The National Staff Development Council, 2009)—as well as Becoming Adult Learners (Teachers College Press, 2004) and Helping Educators Grow (Harvard Education Press, 2012). She is also a co-author of Learning for Leadership (Corwin, 2013), Learning Designs (Learning Forward & Corwin, 2014), Tell Me So I Can Hear You (Harvard Education Press, 2016), and Leading change together (ASCD, 2018).

Ellie’s work has earned awards from the Spencer Foundation, the Klingenstein Foundation, and Harvard, where she served on faculty for 8 years and was awarded the Morningstar Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Dean’s award for Excellent in Teaching. Most recently, Ellie received three outstanding teaching awards from Columbia University. She has earned degrees from Long Island University (BA) and Harvard University (EdM, EdD and Post-Doctoral Fellowship). Ellie grew up in the Bronx and is very grateful for the way in which it and that community has shaped her life.
Jessica Blum-DeStefano photo

Jessica Blum-DeStefano

Jessica Blum-DeStefano is an instructor and advisor at Bank Street College of Education, where she teaches adult development and qualitative research methods. Her teaching, scholarship, and approach to leadership foreground the power of growth and interconnection—especially as they relate to individual perspective transformation, authentic collaboration, and capacity building systemwide. Toward these ends, her work is inspired by an interdisciplinary tapestry of ideas—including adult developmental theories, social justice frameworks, the history and philosophy of education, organizational studies, student voice, and qualitative/mixed-methods research—as well as the nine rewarding years she spent as a teacher and school administrator in K-12 alternative education settings. Jessica earned her PhD in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and holds additional degrees from Emory University (BA), Hofstra University (MA), and Teachers College (M.Phil.) Jessica is a coauthor of Learning for Leadership: Developmental Strategies for Building Capacity in Our Schools (Corwin, 2013), Tell Me So I Can Hear You: A Developmental Approach to Feedback for Educators (Harvard Education Press, 2016), and Leading Change Together: Developing Educator Capacity Within Schools and Systems (ASCD, 2018).

Deborah Brooks Lawrence photo

Deborah Brooks Lawrence

Deborah Brooks Lawrence, EdD is a native New Yorker, who believes that equitable access to viable resources will pave the road for universal recognition and sustainability of Human Rights; and as educators we without question need to prepare all of our practitioners and students to embrace the possibilities of equitable opportunity. This is couched in her witness to, and participation in, the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements as well as her first-hand witness to Apartheid and Nyerere’s Pan Africanism. It is through this inclusive lens that she weaves theory, research, advocacy and practice in her current role as a City Research Scientist with the City of New York. Alongside her current role, Deborah was a Teaching Fellow in Educational Leadership and Development for the Summer Principal's Academy (SPA) at Columbia University, she co-taught a Dissertation Research course, at Teacher’s College Columbia University, and designed and teaches a course on the historical and philosophical foundations of education at Bank Street College of Education. Prior to this work, Deborah taught Logic and Rhetoric for Antioch College’s NY Extension, taught in a charter elementary school and was the founding director of the only supplemental educational program to mandate parents’ attendance to learn and discover alongside their children. Deborah’s scope of work includes work as the interim Director with ReServe (Organization for retired individuals), Education Director of in-school, out of school, and after-school programs throughout NYC for a large non-profit, work on tolerance with the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), and pivotal work with immigrant populations, disenfranchised adults, marginalized children and families, education and child welfare practitioners. She is the co-author of Inherited Wisdom: Drawing on the Lessons of Formerly Enslaved Ancestors to Lift up Black Youth (Cognella, 2022).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Interlude 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Interlude 2

Chapter 7



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