Candid Conversations about Education with Dr. Eric H. Tornfelt – PMP327

Will Parker and guest Dr. Eric Tornfelt discuss the state of U.S education and ways to care for those in your schools.

Dr. Eric H. Tornfelt is Assistant Principal at Sedgefield Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Furman University in 2003 and began his teaching career in the fall of 2004 at Sun Valley High School in Union County, NC, teaching Social Studies and coaching the Men’s Varsity Golf Team.

From 2007-2013, he served on the inaugural faculty of Mallard Creek High School from where he also participated in their literacy design collaborative team. In 2012, Dr. Tornfelt was honored as Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the year.

Dr. Tornfelt was named Assistant Principal at the nationally recognized Piedmont Middle School in 2013. Dr. Tornfelt joined the administrative team at Garinger High School in July of 2015 as a part of the Beacon school turnaround initiative. In 2018, Dr. Tornfelt became Assistant Principal at Sedgefield Middle School in Charlotte, NC where he currently serves. During his time at Sedgefield, Dr. Tornfelt has supported the transition of a major student reassignment plan at the school.

His leadership experiences have also included fostering an exceptional IB learning experience for students, participating in grant programs with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-leading strategic task force initiatives. Dr. Tornfelt completed his Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and his Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership from Wingate University.  His dissertation is titled A Case Study Analysis of a Faith Based Partnership in a Middle School.

He is also the author of the book, The Crumbling Schoolhouse: A Candid View of American Education which is available on Amazon.

Highlights from the conversation include:

  • Eric was born in Egbe, Nigeria, and returned to the United States when he was six months old. He tells an inspiring story about his Assistant Principal, Mr. Dayton, who checked on him in middle school after Eric broke his arm.
  • He also operates from 3 core values:
    • Dignify all stakeholders.
    • Use truth to lead.
    • Teaching is an art.
  • Sedgefield is a Title I school where students are integrated from diverse income levels within the community. With 500 students, he has the ability to know students well. They created mentoring clubs for boys and girls, and they have a great sensory lab.
  • His dissertation identified ways that faith-based communities have strong collective purposes for caring for others, and schools can leverage these resources for mobilizing help for schools, including adult mentors for students. Eric believes in cultivating “high dosage” interactions.
  • Eric is a realist. Even as he leads a school, he knows educators face teacher shortages, tensions in student development, and weaknesses exposed by the pandemic. His book explores these issues and provides guiding questions for educators to dig deeper into solutions.
  • His parting advice: “Be committed to what is important and stay centered in your core values.” 

You can connect with Eric via Twitter @drtornfelt or email at: eric.tornfelt@cms.k12.nc.us

Have other questions or interested in coaching on school culture, student engagement, or problem-solving? Reach out to discuss options available at will@williamdparker.com.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker
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