Episode 49 - Networking for Impact in Education with Cheryl Cook

Episode Summary

In this LEAD on READ episode, co-hosts Danielle Scorrano and Jamie Williamson interview Cheryl Cook, the executive director of The Association of LD Schools (ALDS). ALDS is a formal community for schools that educate students with learning differences like dyslexia.  

This episode invites READers to learn about 

  • the benefits of networking in education for building relationships, sharing resources, and inspiring each other. 
  • how collaboration fosters communities of advocacy in LD schools. Simply put, “we are stronger together.” 
  • why alignment of personal and organizational values matters in educational workplaces. 

This episode is timely for expanding information, inspiration, and impact for professionals across educational organizations to actualize their purpose, build leadership skills, and collaborate with others to better serve our students. 

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.”

1. What it means to be a leader in education right now 
Listen to 15:19 – 18:20 to learn more. 

Relationship-building is at the center of effective leadership. Leaders leverage relationships to lift up the potential of others.  

“I really believe leadership in education is about building relationships and growing other leaders around you. It's a hard job and not one person can do it.” 

Cheryl discusses the power of building connections in the field of education and the benefits of intentionally expanding our professional networks. 

2. The Association of LD Schools (ALDS) 
Listen to 19:04 – 23:08 to learn more. 

ALDS was founded in 2023 as a formal community for schools that specialize in education with learning differences. Learn more about ALDS here: https://ldschools.org  

“I am really excited about the opportunity to make it easier for other people to be able to find those same connections [that I found].” 

ALDS brings together educators with a shared sense of purpose and service of students with learning differences to build connections, learn from each other, and ultimately make a greater impact for students. 

“My passion truly comes from being able to see our schools improve and therefore, help more kids get the services that they need.” 

3. The Role of Alignment and Values 
Listen to 36:07 – 47:32 to learn more. 

Cheryl, Danielle, and Jamie discuss the importance of personal and organizational values as providing clarity and guidance for prioritizing what is important and identifying the behaviors that operationalize these priorities. Cheryl shares the values of ALDS as connection, collaboration, and growth. 

Recognizing the degree to which personal and organizational values align or enrich your experiences in these spaces requires awareness and intentionality.  
Listen to 40:12 – 47:32 to learn more. 

“I do believe that you can have values that are part of who you are at home, and values that are part of who you are in your organization life, but they have to align in some way. They don’t have to be the same values, but they certainly can’t collide in any sort of way that makes you feel like you’re not able to be your whole self or your true self when you are in either environment.” 

4. LEAD on READ Reflection Bookmarks 
Listen to 51:29 – 54:31 to learn more. 

At the end of the episode, Jamie and Danielle ask Cheryl to respond to leadership reflection prompts. Read her answers below: 

  • I am in alignment when the things that matter most to me personally are things that I see in the organization and the work that I'm doing with other people. 
  • One non-negotiable act of self-care is traveling.  
  • Being an advocate means being able to speak for people who can’t or don’t know how or don’t have the words to speak for themselves. 
  • When I get stuck, I call someone! 
  • My hope for the community, as leaders, is we will be better for kids. Collaborating, connecting, and growing together is the key to ensuring that all kids get the support and resources they need to be successful in life. 


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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.

Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests and does not constitute an endorsement by The Windward Institute or The Windward School.