Minds Unleashed

How One Principal Discovered the Path to Success

Todd Whitaker, Sam Miller and Ryan Donlan

​Uncommon Sense is Half the Work
Ryan A. Donlan​

Principals: Educational leadership continues to be the most powerful key to ensuring the successful future of all other professions, and thus, the quality of lives for people around the world. This book, your weekly reader, will allow you to have the conversations to help faculty and staff, to help kids. More importantly, these readings invite your thinking to go to different places in your mind as you search for meaning. They are designed to cause new thinking about some familiar issues, and of course, creativity in their solutions. It is this book’s intent to offer solutions for leaders at all levels to do things right, and to do what’s right, or better said, to do things “right-brained.”


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How Superintendents Can Get their School Boards to Do the Right Thing (Eye on Education)

Ryan Donlan and Todd Whitaker 

The Secret Solution

How One Principal Can Lead Path the Right-Brained Way

Ryan Donlan & Steve Gruenert

Gamesmanship for Teachers

“Finally someone understands that it is not only foolish to legislate academic excellence, it is impossible.”— Robert D. Gulash, dean of students, Caseville Public School

“Ryan Donlan's perspective on teaching and education is provocative, even though his message may seem irreverent in places. He will challenge what you believe the state of affairs should be. He is impassioned, borne by his professional experiences. Through his opinions, he encourages the reader to consider carefully how things are and what should change.”— Michael B. Gilbert, professor and chairperson, Department of Educational Leadership, Central Michigan University

“With this book, Ryan Donlan has done what should be done on a daily basis for the veteran teacher. Too often these teachers are left to survive on their own—"they know what they are supposed to do." The veteran teacher needs support and praise for a job well done. As administrators, educators, and society as a whole, we are not positive enough and do not praise others for a job well done. Donlan has captured the essence of life for the veteran teacher. His book lends encouragement to those teachers and shows them how they can support themselves if nothing else. It is those teachers that make all other professions possible.”— Dale L. Moore, principal, Marlette High School, MI.


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Learn how to turn your school board members into heroes by helping them make smart, worthwhile decisions that they will deserve to brag about. In this much-needed book, Ryan Donlan and Todd Whitaker offer practical strategies to help superintendents develop better working relationships with their boards. You’ll discover how to:


  • reconnect board members to the real purpose of education, despite their agendas
  • work with your board more effectively during meetings and at times in between
  • guide board members into more productive roles when they overreach beyond policymaking
  • connect and communicate with board members regardless of personality
  • encourage board members to play to their strengths
  • start each school year undefeated and know when it is time to move on.


Each chapter contains hero-making tips to help you get started. The book also includes a special feature on board personalities and the Process Communication Model® (PCM), a method that will make it easier to avoid miscommunication with board members. With this practical book, you'll be able to overcome the challenges of the superintendent–board relationship so that your board can make better decisions for those who matter most―the students.


RYAN DONLAN is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership Department at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, and is an authority and trainer in promoting positive human relations, leadership development, and school improvement.


TODD WHITAKER is a professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a former teacher and principal and has written over thirty books and has presented to hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.


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The School Board Member's Guidebook

The Hero Maker

Every student deserves a high-impact, well-qualified, and governance-driven school board. In this helpful book, best-selling authors Ryan Donlan and Todd Whitaker show you as a school board member how to make smart, worthwhile decisions that will lead to positive change in your district. The School Board Member’s Guidebook addresses the challenges of making realistic choices that will truly benefit the school and have a lasting impact. Topics include:


  • How to work and communicate effectively with the superintendent during the year;
  • How to find common ground with colleagues;
  • How to represent the interests and needs of the community at large;
  • How to keep your constituencies focused and informed through strategic planning and structured committee participation;
  • How to host constructive and cordial school board meetings;
  • How to capitalize on individual talents and strengths;
  • And more!


Each chapter offers strategies, tips, and sample scenarios. With these resources and the practical advice throughout the book, you’ll be able to make a lasting difference in the lives of every student in your district. You’ll be a Difference Maker.


TODD WHITAKER is a professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a former teacher and principal and has written over thirty books and has presented to hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.


RYAN DONLAN is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership Department at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, and is an authority and trainer in promoting positive human relations, leadership development, and school improvement.


The secret of effective leadership can elude even the best principals. In The Secret Solution, How One Principal Discovered the Path to Success, a principal travels a journey through four distinct leadership styles as he works to transform a school. On this journey, he encounters characters familiar to all of us who have worked in education, including superstars, fence-sitters, and even bullies. This quickreading parable provides practical guidance for both current and future administrators, immediately relevant in applying knowledge to practice. Readers will quickly recognize staff from their own buildings who come to life in this engaging story.


TODD WHITAKER is a professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a former teacher and principal and has written over thirty books and has presented to hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.


RYAN DONLAN is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership Department at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, and is an authority and trainer in promoting positive human relations, leadership development, and school improvement.


SAM MILLER is superintendent of the Solon Community School District in Solon, Iowa. He is a former teacher, coach, and principal, and serves as a consultant in leadership development and school improvement.

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Becoming a Difference Maker for Your District (Eye on Education)

Ryan Donlan and Todd Whitaker


​​​A LEADERSHIP AND ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE SPECIALIST