Penn GSE Alum Joins Mid-Career Program as Leadership Innovation Manager

Archive Notice: The following article was published before Jan 2015.


August 18, 2014 – Digital media has become a crucial tool for modern school leadership. Understanding this reality, Penn GSE’s Mid-Career Program has brought back alumnus Dr. Joe Mazza to help students, faculty, and alumni enhance their influence and engagement.

As Leadership Innovation Manager, Mazza will oversee the program’s new Leadership Makerspace, a digital studio that will further the program’s lifelong commitment to helping participants amplify their voice.

Resources like Twitter, webinars, and virtual conferences are increasingly relevant in day-to-day educational leadership, in addition to traditional forums like school board meetings and district newsletters. Educators and researchers exchange ideas informally, in real-time. Just as important, students and parents want and expect instant updates from the people in charge of their schools.

Mazza will help participants take control of these tools and coach them on creating and strengthening their digital presence and leadership skills.

“I want people to be comfortable using social media in education, learn what it means to be a digital leader, and how to connect family-school partnerships in a transparent way,” said Mazza. “With these innovations we can create more anytime, anywhere learning opportunities.”

Through digital media, educators can create their own community, or Personal Learning Network, by exchanging knowledge with peers around the globe.

The Mid-Career Doctoral Program prepares working professionals for roles in educational leadership through an executive doctorate format. In this program, students investigate the ongoing transformation of educational organizations from a leadership perspective. Graduates often pursue or advance careers in school administration.

Unique to the Mid-Career Doctoral Program is an array of lifetime support benefits, like writing and research coaching. Mazza’s inclusion of digital media literacy will help students and alumni leverage a global community of learners.

Mazza has been integrating education with technology throughout his career. A public school educator since 2000, he is an experienced teacher and administrator. He has worked with students, teachers, and families as a third grade teacher, bilingual assistant principal, middle school vice principal, and elementary principal. In each of these roles he simultaneously served as a TV studio producer, webmaster, and technology integration coach.

A 2013 graduate of the Mid-Career Doctoral Program, Mazza’s dissertation examined school leaders' use of social media to connect home and school. He’s now applying his scholarship directly to his formal doctoral program.

For the past year, Mazza has produced the Mid-Career Innovations Lab, a virtual space for program participants to exchange resources and offer support. He’s now moving this concept into the physical realm through the newly founded Leadership Makerspace. Located on Penn’s campus, this space will promote digital literacy and media engagement for current and future educational leaders.

The Leadership Makerspace is a platform for educational skill sharing. The space includes a digital TV and podcast studio, among other digital resources. For example, participants will be able to host live events in classrooms, from conferences to information exchanges.

“The Leadership Makerspace will allow current students, faculty and program alumni to be producers of their own teaching and learning,” said Mazza. “It’s an incubator for connecting education leaders around the world.”

In addition to digital media fluency, students will be coached on building a Personal Learning Network, promoting transparent collaboration, and effective relationship building.

“We want graduates from the program to be immersed in high and low tech innovation, build confidence with on-demand small group support, and go back into their schools with immediate takeaways on applying this knowledge," said Mazza.

By fostering these learning communities, graduates of the Mid-Career Program will be better equipped to communicate with and engage their educational environments.

“They’ll possess the skills necessary to be the strong leaders our education communities need,” said Mazza.

Connect with Joe on his personal site and on Twitter.