It’s easy to become mired in darkness because of the current state of affairs within the world. Particularly when it comes to education policy. People on both sides of the political aisle will be the first to tell you schools in the United States of America are in a serious state of crisis. It’s easy to become lost in the decision-making process, and the strong opinions of the thought leaders both within the unions and within the charter school movement.


Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.’s new book wisely steers the conversation away from the specificities of such arguments, instead settling for something anyone on either side of the issue can agree with. Start with establishing a firm sense of Trust. There cannot be a successful relationship between an educational leader and the community with which they have been chosen to serve if there isn’t a sense of transparency, clarity, and humanization with respect to the leader’s conduct. Travis’s book, titled TrustED: The Bridge to School Improvement, has a sort of upbeat but never maudlin tonality to the clinical preciseness of its content.

Travis makes the reader feel genuinely empowered, part of this due to his avoidance of excess flowery word choice, or wandering into more ideologically tangential waters. The book is first and foremost a study of how to institute the kind of trust he swears by, a lot of it boiling down to a certain personal responsibility, corporate philosophy, and adherence to development psychology.

“A school leader’s public reputation is based on their integrity and moral fiber,” Travis writes. “…When leadership decisions are public, positive, and grounded in the core values of the school’s mission, reputation is enhanced. Conversely, when decisions and actions are made behind closed doors, negative, and motivated by priorities other than those born out of the school’s primary focus…reputation is diminished…Every individual approaches life through a worldview. Everyone sees the world around them through a philosophical and theological lens. A school leader’s worldview affects all they think, say, and do. When it comes to the development of the school, there is no way to approach a task without it being impacted by one’s worldview.


Therefore, it is essential that leaders first recognize their personal beliefs and values – and address the influence these perspectives may have on school improvement.” It’s a decidedly holistic touch to something that easily could have been a drier, more pedestrian kind of reading experience. But Travis knows storytelling ingredients, even in the nonfiction subcategory of leadership advice, are always the best policies for presentation. Things are communicated to the reader in clear and concise terms, but with a muted panache that keeps the more emotional side of the reader’s intellect engaged.

After all, establishing trust isn’t just about keeping good on one’s promises, Travis writes. It’s an ability to speak to the people themselves, to have them be emotionally invested in you not just for your capabilities, but for your genuine concern for them and looking out for them. In short, at the risk of being quaint, focus on what makes the relationships bloom, Travis argues.

From there lies the path to working everything else out.

Cyrus Rhodes