The Focus 3 Blog

Culture and Leadership in Education

We sometimes forget that the educational world is very much results-driven. The work we do is too important; what is required of us demands elite performance. Results are not created in a strategic plan or organizational charts. The results you achieve are earned through the culture YOU create and lead. There are no shortcuts, you must be relentless in doing the work.

My name is Dawn Sayre. I am a teacher and coach at heart. I have had the privilege of serving and leading in the public education arena the past 23 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, high school principal, middle school principal and curriculum director. I recently accepted a position with Focus 3 as the Director of Education Partnerships.

I grew up in a small town in Southern Ohio called Londonderry in Ross County. It was there that my core values were formed by my family, friends, teachers, coaches and community. These are the core values which still guide me on a daily basis:

  • Do the right thing even when it is not easy or popular...ESPECIALLY when it is not easy or popular.
  • Treat others as you want to be treated
  • Work hard, EARN everything, and take ownership of your actions.

These core values continued to serve me well as I went to college at Otterbein (College) University to pursue my degree in education and continue my basketball career. I have had tremendous life experiences (good and bad) that have even further solidified my belief that the most important skills we can teach our young people are behavioral skills.

In each leadership position I have had the opportunity to hold, I have lead with the heart. This doesn’t mean “warm and fuzzy”. It means that I have elevated my love for those I lead without lowering my standards and expectations.

I was first introduced to Focus 3 seven years ago when our Superintendent of the Hilliard City Schools, Dr John Marschaussen, brought Tim Kight to our administrative retreat to talk about the importance of culture and leadership in our district, schools and classrooms (aka our 20 square feet). I have been a student of leadership all my life. I have read many books, listened to podcasts, and have been to conferences to try and learn the secret to successful leaders and leadership.

When I heard TK speak for the first time in my leadership journey, I heard ACTION, I learned of a SYSTEM that can help adults and students build skills to improve personal behavior. I was hooked and went to work right away. I wanted to start my inner Journey to Elite. For clarity, when I say Elite, I simply mean to be better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today and be the best version of “you”! This is so I can support those I lead on their journey to ultimately better serve today’s youth and those who support them.

Over the past seven years, I have witnessed the power of a common culture and the power of prioritizing culture over instruction. Yes, I said that CULTURE comes FIRST and INSTRUCTION comes SECOND. If you want better academic results then LEAD a better culture that will drive the behaviors which produce better results.

As I reflect on “why” I made the decision to leave a district I love, a district that I had been for 23 years, a district that has supported my growth personally and professionally, a district that is home to some of my greatest friendships, I go back to my core values. I believe with all that I am, we are in a crisis in our society. We must teach adults and students alike, how to effectively respond to life’s events in a disciplined, intentional and skillful way.

We need to equip adults and students with the skills to:

  • Do the right thing even when it is not easy or popular...ESPECIALLY when it is not easy or popular.
  • Treat others as you want to be treated
  • Work hard, EARN everything, and take ownership of your actions.

I am extremely excited to begin this new journey! As a partner with Focus 3, we will work together to integrate a systemic approach to build your culture, based on your values, to achieve elite results. This work is not easy and it takes time and commitment. It demands that leaders walk the walk and do the work. Let’s get started on your Journey to Elite!

Be Elite,

D. Sayre

*If you are interested I wrote a blog when I was the principal at Hilliard Heritage Middle School that shared our road map for our Journey to Elite. I wrote this in 1/20/16.


Topics: Culture First

Dawn Sayre

Dawn Sayre

Dawn is an accomplished speaker and educator with nearly 25 years of experience working and leading public educators. Dawn is leading the Focus 3 Education Partnerships.

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