Since its inception in 1943, the Center for School Study Councils (CSSC) has worked to improve the quality of education in school districts across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As the longest continuous study council organization in the country, CSSC serves as a catalyst for public school superintendents to be proactive leaders and facilitates their professional learning and application of that learning.

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About The Center for School Study Councils

Four people present on a speaker panelTo realize our missionmembers identify key issues which affect public education across districts and participate in a unified series of monthly professional development workshops to address those issues. Those workshops provide a setting for intellectual stimulation, skill development, and professional problem solving all focused on the superintendents' leadership roles. Members also engage in a variety of activities to learn more about those issues and enhance leadership in their schools, districts, and communities. Affiliation with Penn GSE includes a variety of benefits, connecting participating superintendents and their districts to faculty and other resources at the University of Pennsylvania.

A speaker presenting in front of a screen

The Center also works with affiliated districts and other organizations to design and implement initiatives to address educational and community challenges.

The Center for School Study Councils is part of CATALYST @ Penn GSE, a center connecting people and ideas across diverse constituencies to develop innovative ways to address persistent and emerging problems in education.

Our Mission

Superintendents Learning, Speaking Out, and Acting on Important Issues

Participants in the Center for School Study Councils identify key issues affecting public education and engage in the following leadership activities:


Council members participate in workshops and seminars featuring nationally recognized experts. These workshops and seminars enable members to develop and share their knowledge and expertise.

Speaking Out

As educational leaders, superintendents create the context for public conversation about education. The Center supports members in articulating issues and solutions in their districts and across the region. 

Acting Together

The Center for School Study Councils provides a platform through which members develop a support network for collaborative action. This platform includes sharing ideas and successful practices as well as developing new ways to share resources and expertise.

The Center accomplishes this mission through four series of monthly professional development workshops for school superintendents as well as through special projects developed in response to requests from affiliated school districts and Intermediate Units.

A speaker presenting to a group of educators

Benefits of Membership

The Center for School Study Councils provides the following benefits of membership.  These benefits are in addition to monthly workshops that are intellectually stimulating, build the superintendent’s professional tool kit and provide rich and focused problem-solving and networking.  These workshops are eligible for Act 45 credits through the Pennsylvania Department of Education with a yearly membership and a prescribed minimum attendance for the year:  


  • The ability for assistant superintendents (or other administrators seeking Act 45 credit) to affiliate with the Study Councils at half-price and receive Act 45 credit for required participation.
  • The ability to bring up to two guests from your district to the meetings, thus extending the basic benefit of membership across your leadership team.
  • Access to just published articles on education, leadership, management and other areas of concern and interest to school superintendents.
  • Access to the University of Pennsylvania library system.
  • Discounts to participate in special Catalyst @ Penn GSE sponsored programs (e.g., short cycle inquiries on problems of practice, workshops on strategic leadership, training in designing and leading public meetings, etc.).
  • Notification of and free access to lectures at GSE and across Penn (including Wharton, the School of Arts and Sciences, Social Work, etc.).
  • Discounted consulting services and technical assistance (e.g., community budgeting process, strategic visioning, board goal setting, program evaluation services, etc.).
  • Free books from our speakers at Joint Council and other meetings.
  • Access to notes from all study council meetings (from study council in which you belong as well as from meetings of other study councils).
  • Increased access to University facilities for educational programs (Annenberg Center and University Museum.
  • Access to a database of outstanding consultants from the University of Pennsylvania, the Delaware Valley, and across the country who have participated in Study Council Activities.
  • A free or reduced-fee consulting service of faculty from the Graduate School of Education across the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Invitations to serve as guest lecturers in University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education courses. Study Council members also teach courses on educational leadership and administration.


The Center for School Study Councils provides four broad kinds of programs and technical assistance to superintendents and their affiliated school districts.

Certificate Program in Leadership Dynamics

This professional development program, which focuses on leadership thinking, is a unique synthesis of research and theory in cognitive science and lessons from cases of leadership in extremis (in extreme circumstances). It combines these two areas of study to produce principles and strategies for the dynamic and complex challenges faced by contemporary leaders.

The courses in this program include:

  • The Contemporary Leader: Leading in an Age of Complexity
  • The Leader-Follower Dynamic: A Contemporary View of Teamwork
  • The Challenge of Change: Leading an Agile Organization
  • Expert Decision Making: Hard Thinking for an Uncertain World
  • Leading in a Culture: Aligning Energies for High Performance
  • Mind Power: Tapping the Genius of Teams
  • When You’re Asked to Do the Impossible: Leadership When the Stakes are Highest
  • Crisis Leadership: Preventing, Containing, Restoring, Learning
  • The Educator as Design Thinker: The How and the Why (for Educators)
  • Strategic Insight: Innovative Thinking in War, Business, Science, and Design (for Government & Business)
  • Optimizing Strategic Thinking: Enhancing Design & Avoiding Pitfalls (for Government & Business).
    This program is offered by Catalyst @ Penn GSE at the University of Pennsylvania and delivered by Ideatects, Inc. The successful completion of four courses by an individual earns the Certificate in Leadership Dynamics.

Customized Professional Development

The Study Council staff works with affiliated school districts and other educational organizations to develop professional development workshops and retreats to meet identified organizational needs. Sample programs include:

Workshop Series

  • Excellence and Equity Workshops
  • School Leadership for Community Engagement
  • An Appreciative Look at Change

Organizational Retreats

  • System Thinking and Acting Systemically
  • Understanding and Applying Appreciative Inquiry to Leadership Activities 

Strategic Planning

The Study Council staff has adapted a variety of strategic planning models for use with educational organizations. Those adaptations incorporate aspects of idealized redesign, appreciative planning, future search, and deliberative planning into more traditional models of strategic planning to create a process that best fits the needs of our clients.

Public Leadership and Community Engagement

Public leadership is an essential component of the superintendency. This leadership goes beyond traditional public relations and beyond making district policies and practices available to parents of children in schools. Given the essential role of parents and communities in the education of the children, both must be engaged as partners, as co-producers of the educational program.We work with districts to design ways to engage stakeholders in productive deliberative dialogue that can inform superintendent and board decision-making, building stronger school-parent-community collaboration.

Member Districts and Superintendents 2020-2021

The Center for School Study Councils is a collaboration comprised of school districts organized into five separate study groups. While the original study councils were centered in the greater Philadelphia region, our membership has expanded north, south, east, and west. Those districts extend north into Berks and Bucks Counties, south into Delaware, east to the New Jersey coast, and west into Franklin County, Pennsylvania (west of Harrisburg).

Philadelphia Suburban School Study Council, Group A

Suburban School Study Council, Group A was the original School Study Council at the University of Pennsylvania. Formed in 1943 by superintendents in the inner-ring suburbs of Philadelphia, the Council expanded in 1998 to include suburban districts in New Jersey and more recently Delaware. The Council meets monthly, September through June, at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Appoquinimink School District | Dr. Matthew Burrows
  • Bensalem Township School District | Dr. Samuel Lee
  • Bristol Township School District | Dr. Melanie Gehrens
  • Bristol Township School District | Dr. Sharon Vitella
  • Bucks County Intermediate Unit | Dr. Mark Hoffman
  • Burlington County Institute of Technology | Dr. Christopher Nagy
  • Cheltenham Township School District | Dr. Wagner Marseille
  • Cheltenham Township School District | Dr. Tamara Smith
  • Cherry Hill Public Schools | Dr. Joseph Meloche
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit | Dr. Noreen O'Neill
  • Eastern Camden County Regional High School | Mr. Robert S. Cloutier
  • Haddon Township School District | Dr. Robert Fisicaro
  • Haddonfield Public Schools | Mr. Charles Klaus
  • Hatboro-Horsham School District | Dr. Scott Eveslage
  • Haverford Township School District | Dr. Maureen Reusche
  • Kennett Consolidated School District | Dr. D. Dusty Blakey
  • Lower Merion School District | Dr. Alexis McGloin
  • Moorestown Township School District | Dr. Scott McCartney
  • Mt. Laurel Township School District | Dr. George Rafferty
  • New Castle County Vocational Technical School District | Dr. Joseph Jones
  • Norristown Area School District | Mr. Chris Dormer
  • Pennsbury School District | Dr. William Gretzula
  • Perkiomen Valley School District | Dr. Barbara Russell
  • Radnor Township School District | Mr. Kenneth E. Batchelor
  • Upper Darby School District | Dr. Dan McGarry
  • Upper Darby School District | Dr. John Council
  • Upper Darby School District | Mr. Edward Marshaleck
  • Wallingford-Swarthmore School District | Dr. Lisa Palmer
  • William Penn School District | Dr. Eric Becoats

Philadelphia Suburban School Study Council, Group B

Suburban School Study Council, Group B was formed in 1954 to serve school districts in the outer ring suburbs of Philadelphia. It serves school superintendents and districts from Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties. The Council meets monthly, September through May, in facilities provided by the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit.

  • Berks County Intermediate Unit | Dr. Jill Hackman
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit | Dr. George Fiore
  • Delaware County Intermediate Unit | Dr. Maria Edelberg
  • Delaware County Intermediate Unit | Dr. Shellie Feola
  • Downingtown Area School District | Dr. Emilie Lonardi
  • Downingtown Area School District | Dr. Louis Chance
  • Downingtown Area School District | Dr. Robert A. Reed Jr.
  • Exeter Township School District | Dr. Kimberly Minor
  • Great Valley School District | Dr. Dan Goffredo
  • Great Valley School District | Dr. Stephen O'Toole
  • Great Valley School District | Dr. Joanna Wexler
  • Jenkintown School District | Dr. Jill Takacs
  • Kutztown Area School District | Mr. Christian Temchatin
  • Montgomery County Intermediate Unit | Dr. Regina C. Speaker
  • Muhlenberg School District | Dr. Joseph Macharola
  • Owen J. Roberts School District | Dr. Kathryn Soeder
  • Phoenixville Area School District | Dr. Alan Fegley
  • Reading School District | Dr. Khalid Mumin
  • Ridley School District | Ms. Lee Ann Wentzel
  • Ringgold School District | Dr. Cathy Taschner
  • Rose Tree Media School District | Dr. Eleanor DiMarino-Linnen
  • Springfield Township School District | Dr. MaryJo Yannacone
  • Uncommon Individual Foundation | Dr. John Crosby
  • West Chester Area School District | Dr. James Scanlon
  • Wilson School District | Dr. Richard Faidley

Bucks-Mercer School Study Council

The Bucks-Mercer School Study Council was created in 2019 by superintendents in northern Bucks County and adjacent PA and NJ counties. The Council meets monthly, September through June, at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.

  • Bucks County Technical High School | Dr. Leon Poeske
  • Central Bucks School District | Dr. John J. Kopicki
  • Council Rock School District | Dr. Robert Fraser
  • Middle Bucks Institute of Technology | Ms. Kathy Strouse
  • Morrisville Borough School District | Mr. Jason Harris
  • New Hope-Solebury School District | Dr. Charles Lentz
  • Pennridge School District | Dr. David Bolton
  • Pennridge School District | Dr. Kathy Brewster-Scheid
  • Pennridge School District | Dr. Tony Rybarczyk
  • Quakertown Community School District | Dr. William Harner
  • Quakertown Community School District | Dr. Lisa Hoffman
  • Southern Lehigh School District | Mrs. Kathleen Evison

South Penn School Study Council, Group D

South Penn School Study Council was formed in the 1957 to serve school superintendents and their districts in south central Pennsylvania. Drawing from districts in Cumberland, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties, the Council meets monthly, September through May, in facilities provided by the Pennsylvania School Board Association.

  • Camp Hill School District | Dr. Patricia Sanker
  • Central York School District | Dr. Michael Snell
  • Chambersburg Area School District | Dr. Dion Betts
  • Derry Township School District | Mr. Joseph McFarland
  • Lincoln Intermediate Unit | Dr. Jeffrey West
  • Manheim Central School District | Dr. Peter Aiken
  • Mechanicsburg Area School District | Dr. Mark Leidy
  • Northeastern School District | Dr. Stacey Sidle
  • South Eastern School District | Dr. Nathan P. Van Deusen
  • South Western School District | Dr. Jay Burkhart
  • Southern York County School District | Dr. Sandra Lemmon
  • Southern York County School District | Dr. Robert Bryson

South Jersey School Study Council

South Jersey School Study Council was formed in 2001. It serves school superintendents and their districts in Burlington, Gloucester, Camden, Mercer, Monmouth, and Salem counties in New Jersey. The Council meets monthly, September through May, in facilities provided by Camden County College.

  • Commercial Township School District | Ms. Kristen Schell
  • Delsea Regional School District | Dr. Piera Gravenor
  • Edgewater Park Township School District | Dr. Roy Rakszawski
  • Hamilton Township School District | Mr. Frank Vogel
  • Medford Township Public Schools | Dr. Joseph Del Rossi
  • Pitman Public Schools | Dr. Patrick McAleer
  • Roosevelt Public School | Ms. Mary Robinson Cohen, Esq
  • Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional School District | Ms. Virginia Grossman
Member of CSSC at the Franklin Institute

Notes and Video Recordings of Meetings

Each of the four Study Councils meets monthly, with all four groups coming together for the “Joint Study Councils Meeting.” In addition to written notes about each meeting, we’ve recorded a selection of the Joint Study Councils Meetings noted below.

If you are interested in copies of any of the meeting notes or recordings, please contact the Center office at 215-898-7371 or


Mario Moussa, Ph.D., MBA
Collaboration and Culture:
How to Get Things Done With and Through Others 
April 24, 2017

Mark Angel
The Science of Innovation:
What Public Education Leaders Can Learn from Silicon Valley's "Lean Learning" 
October 11, 2016

Reb Rebele
Building Strong Cultures of Productive Collaboration:
Working Together for Better Schools 
April 19, 2016 

Colonel (retired) Charles D. Allen
Strategic Thinking for Leaders: 
Lessons from the Military for Senior Leadership and Managing Change 
October 21, 2015

Bena Kallick , Ph.D. 
Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 
16 Essential Characteristics for Success 
October 15, 2014

C. Richard Shell, Ph.D.
Rethinking and Launching Your Personal Search for Success
April 2, 2014 

Katherine Prince, KnowledgeWorks
Recombinant Education – Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem:
Digging Deeply into the Future of Teaching and Learning
October 8, 2013

Peter Gronn, Ph.D.
The Educational Leader's New Work: Understanding & Dealing with Its "Greedy" Nature 
October 16, 2012 

Michael Useem, Ph.D.
The Leader's Checklist
April 25, 2012

Yong Zhao, Ph.D.
Catching Up or Leading the Way: Reimagining American Education in the Evolving Global Context
October 12, 2011

Michael Baime, M.D.
Mindfulness Education for Leaders: Tools for Maintaining Professional and Personal Balance
April 27, 2010

Daniel Greenberg, Ph.D.
Growing Up in a World Transformed
October 20, 2009

John J. DiIulio Jr., Ph.D.
Creating Public Value: Leadership and Management Challenges and Opportunities
April 15, 2009

Russell Ackoff, Ph.D.
Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track
October 21, 2008


Contact Us

For more information, contact:

Tim Foxx
Center for School Study Councils
University of Pennsylvania