Lawton educator Linda Dzialo has been chosen to become the new executive director of Great Expectations, a scientifically based professional development program that provides teachers with skills needed to inspire students to pursue academic excellence.
Dzialo was selected Monday, June 29, during a meeting of the organization’s board of directors. She assumed the position July 1, filling a vacancy being created by the retirement of longtime executive director Cheryl Price.
“In our statewide search for someone to take over for Cheryl, the Great Expectations board has found the perfect leader in Dr. Dzialo,” said Charlie Hollar, founder of the program. “With her vast educational experience and multitude of talents, she will provide visionary leadership to carry Great Expectations into the future.”
Hollar added that his Oklahoma-based program is poised for national expansion: “GE is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and is looking forward to many more years of training teachers. It has demonstrated excellence in the schools that have implemented it, and we’re excited about taking it to districts across the country.”
“Great Expectations has positively impacted hundreds of Oklahoma schools,” she said. “In addition it has expanded to numerous other states. The professional development it provides guides teachers to utilize the best teaching practices, as well as build a school culture of exemplary citizenship and mutual respect. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead it.”
Dzialo, who was deputy superintendent of the Lawton Pubic Schools, is well acquainted with the program. Not only has she participated in the program’s summer institute for five consecutive years, four schools in her district have achieved “model school” designation through the program. One of them was the first middle school in Oklahoma to become a model school.
With a focus on the human quality of teaching and learning, Great Expectations promotes student self-esteem, attendance, discipline, and parent participation – all of which result in improved academic achievement. Drawing from many learning theories, professional development is grounded in the belief that all students can learn, no matter what labels have been placed on them.
Founded in 1991 in donated space at Northeastern Oklahoma State University, more than 40 percent of Oklahoma school districts have sent teachers through the program. Great Expectations has now expanded training into Michigan, Missouri and Texas. From a humble beginning of 175 teachers and administrators who attended the first workshop 17 years ago, the program has now trained more than 34,000 educators.
Dzialo has more than 35 years in the field of education. She worked as a teacher, counselor, principal and executive director of secondary education before becoming deputy superintendent for the Lawton Public Schools. She also has higher education experience, serving two years as vice president of student affairs for Cameron University.
Dzialo has also been active in community affairs, founding Lawton Food 4 Kids, chairing the Lawton-Fort Sill Military Child Committee, helping found Fit Kids of Southwest Oklahoma, serving as president of the United Way of Lawton-Fort Sill board of directors, and working actively on nearly a dozen other local and state advocacy programs.
She has been recognized numerous times for her community work, including being included twice among “50 Making a Difference in Oklahoma” by the Oklahoma Journal Record, and her selection as “Community Leader of the Year” by Leadership Lawton last month.