PMP402: Building Trust with Dr. Todd Dain

Dr. Todd Dain has significantly shaped education over a 30-year career, currently leading Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas, since 2015. With a foundation in education from Emporia State and Baker University, he’s held roles as a teacher, coach, and administrator. His leadership is acknowledged beyond the school through his involvement in educational organizations and as a former associate principal and activities director at Blue Valley Southwest High School. Dain’s excellence in coaching led to multiple sports victories and district championships. Honored as the 2023 Kansas Principal of the Year, his impact on Kansas education is inspiring. Additionally, Dr. Dain contributes as an adjunct professor at Baker University and, together with his wife, Dr. Jessica Dain, Superintendent of Piper School District, they are raising three children.

In this episode, Todd Dain and Will Parker talk about important takeaways for school leaders, including:

  • Todd’s background growing up on a dairy farm and the lessons it taught him that he’s used in education leadership.
  • The history of Shawnee Mission South High School, and his school’s achievements, including being named an Apple Distinguished School.
  • The commitment to school culture even with a diverse student population and diverse economic experiences of his community members.
  • Todd’s commitment to exercise, family, and delegation.
  • Being “trust-willing” in order to build the capacity in others to avoid micromanaging outcomes.
  • Why education is a people business and how leaders must leverage that trust.
  • Culture trumps strategy.
  • Why leading begins with knowing your why. “Success is not defined today,” Todd says. “Today is defined ten years from now.”
  • Why not sweating the small stuff, and being mindful of the investment your making in others are two-sides of the same coin of leadership.
  • How Todd plans his entire year out during the summer months, planning for duties and responsibilities of his associate principals, and being clear on the details and follow-through necessary for them to complete their responsibilities.

Todd ends with parting words of wisdom, including to remember relationships come first, learn to listen with empathy, and focus on celebrating the good. 

Also, a shout-out to USAKansas, where Todd has served as President for the association this year! 

Listen to the entire episode for more takeaways! You can connect with Dr. Todd Dain via email: or on social media’s X or Instagram via @SMSouthTDain.

Think someone else would benefit from this episode?
William D. Parker
William D. Parker