Dr. Kristina A. Hesbol is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education, where she teaches doctoral leadership and research methodology courses. Her teaching, research, presentations, publications and service converge on the impact of school and district leadership as praxis in guiding inclusive systems of learners, with social and organizational contexts central to this focus. Her professional work is filtered through the intersecting issues of equity and social justice, systems thinking and leading sustainable improvement. Dr. Hesbol earned a B.A. in Education (DePauw University), an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (National-Louis University), and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (Loyola University, Chicago), and holds a current superintendent endorsement. Her professional work is filtered through the intersecting issues of social justice, systems thinking and leadership for sustainable improvement.
Her research agenda focuses on educational leadership and policy issues across two lines of inquiry. The first is focused on leading change to develop equitable learning organizations, including the principal’s pivotal role in building systemic capacity to improve intractable and complex problems. The second examines networked improvement communities, particularly their capacity to accelerate improvement in rural and remote learning communities. As an investigator of a three-year Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Grant, she is examining the underrepresentation of minority gifted students in rural contexts across the state of Colorado. Her current research examines the behaviors and attitudes of school principals in rural and remote schools, across the US and New Zealand, who lead schools in which traditionally marginalized students demonstrate high levels of learning outcomes. She has launched a Global Rural Innovative School Leadership Networked Improvement Community (GRISL_NIC), comprised of a university faculty member and a practitioner in the field at one of seven IHEs in the US and one at The University of Auckland (New Zealand). With support from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, members of this research project are collaborating to determine whether using improvement science tools in the NIC can accelerate improvement at each node, as well as across the NIC.
Hesbol co-edited a research textbook for Ed.D. programs, Contemporary Approaches to Dissertation Development and Research Methods (2016). Her published chapters include, “Getting Real: Surfacing and Challenging Persistent Oppressive Behaviors of School and District Leaders” in Interrogating Whiteness and Relinquishing Power: White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms (2016), and “Preparing Leaders to Reculture Schools as Inclusive Communities of Practice” in the Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity (2013). Her work has been published in Impacting Education (2017) and critiqued in Teachers College Record (2014).
As a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she was named one of 12 Stafford Fellows for the National Institute for Leadership on Disability and Students Placed At-Risk (NILDSPAR). She was named a Coleman Foundation Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellow at Illinois State University, and a Senior Improvement Research Fellow by the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate. She has served as a mentor for seven Barbara L. Jackson Scholars, and has chaired 16 successful dissertations since coming to the University of Denver in 2013.
Dr. Hesbol has taught preK-high school students, as well as graduate students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and at Illinois State University. She served as a principal in several culturally and linguistically diverse school districts, as the Coordinator of Literacy and School Improvement in a diverse suburban school district, and as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at a large unit school district. She consulted nationally in literacy leadership, and has worked extensively with aspiring and incumbent school and district leaders in leading equitable school improvement, interrogating data to inform instructional decision making, and disrupting organizational change.