PMP141: How Culture Drives Successful Learning Communities – Interview with Dr. Kyle Palmer

Recently, I had the privilege of talking to Dr. Kyle Palmer about the lessons he has learned in his years as a teacher, principal and district leader.

Photo by rebe_zuniga – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License

As we talked about the successful professional learning teams his teachers have led, Kyle commented that when our hearts hurts when students fail, then we are willing to do whatever it takes for them to learn. His commitment to building strong cultures was a good reminder of why your school leadership matters.

Meet Dr. Kyle Palmer

Kyle Palmer is currently in his second year as Executive Director of Human Resources for the Center School District of South Kansas City, MO. Before this transition, Dr. Palmer spent the previous ten years as principal of nationally recognized Lewis and Clark Elementary in Liberty, MO. Kyle began his career as a 4th grade teacher in Ankeny, Iowa in 2000.

In 2013, he was named the Distinguished Principal for the Clay-Platte region of Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals in 2013. Under his leadership, Lewis and Clark Elementary was designated as an “National Model PLC School” by Solution Tree in 2013 and 2015 as well as an “ICLE Model School” in 2015, 2016, and 2017. In his “spare time” Kyle consults with the ICLE (International Center for Leadership in Education), Solution Tree, and as a certified John Maxwell Speaker, Trainer, and Coach.

Interview Takeaways

Here are some of the topics we discussed together in this episode:

  • After years of leading a school, Kyle talks about the changes he experienced leading from a district level.
  • He explores why some leaders fail when they focus on so many tasks that they fail to accomplish any well.
  • With a unique perspective on both building and district leadership, Kyle offers thoughts on what challenges or pitfalls that principals may want to avoid.
  • Kyle discusses the research he has done into Professional Learning Communities: why some work better than others.
  • As he thinks about partnering with parents, Kyle also discusses lessons he want principals to keep in mind about keeping perspective.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Kyle is a passionate believer in the power of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and transforming schools to be more future-ready. Kyle’s research and dissertation on the “Existence of a Knowing-Doing Gap in PLC Implementation in LPS” led him to a deeper understanding about the power of establishing a culture that focuses on the practices of people working in a collaborative culture focusing on student learning. In the end, each of us can benefit from remembering that positive cultures drive positive changes.

Now It’s Your Turn

How can you seeing your school from another’s perspective to refresh your own? How can you stay focused on the main goals of your school so that you are not sidetracked by its many other urgent demands? What is one step you take today to stay connected to heart of education – helping all students learn?

You can stay connected with Kyle via Twitter @drkylepalmer or by email at

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Principal Matters–The Book!

School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

Messaging Matters

Harness the power of messaging to create a culture of acknowledgment, respect, and celebration. Written specially for leaders, this title is divided into three parts, helping readers to maximize their role as chief communicators with students, teachers, and parents and community. Each chapter includes suggestions for using digital tools to enhance messaging and ends with reflection questions and practical next steps.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker