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Getting Smart Podcast

Apr 14, 2020

In this episode, Tom Vander Ark is speaking with Daniel Gohl. Dan is the Chief Academic Officer at Broward County Public Schools. The district serves the greater Fort Lauderdale area of South Florida and has nearly 270,000 students on 241 campuses. It’s the sixth-largest district in the country. Dan has been a learning leader in Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Houston, Texas. In his fifth year in Broward, as part of Superintendent Robert Runcie’s team, Dan oversaw the development of a great system of schools with well-developed personalized learning, the biggest speech and debate program, and the biggest computer science program in the country.


In this interview, Dan speaks about their crisis response program, Learning Never Closes. He reflects on leading through crises, including hurricanes and mass shootings, and talks about why this pandemic is far more challenging.


The Getting Smart team thinks that you’ll find Dan to be one of America’s most thoughtful education leaders just as they do!


Key Takeaways:

[:10] About today’s episode.

[1:05] Tom welcomes Dan Gohl to the podcast!

[1:15] Dan tells the story of opening the McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C.

[2:35] Dan speaks about his background in science and involvement with the Science Academy of Austin (that led to an opportunity that took him to D.C.).

[4:25] Why did Dan end up in Austin in the fall of 1986? And what kept him there?

[7:27] Dan speaks about his stint in Zimbabwe.

[8:05] Dan shares more about his career after coming back to the States in 1990.

[8:52] Dan speaks about his time in Newark in 2010 where he was leading the change effort.

[11:28] Tom and Dan talk about when they connected again when Dan was CAO during the PowerUp Initiative in 2013 America’s biggest move to 1:1 and blended learning.

[12:21] Dan shares what he ended up doing after leaving Newark.

[14:37] Now five years in as CAO at Broward County, Dan recaps some of the advances he has made thus far and what he’s proud of.

[21:45] Jessica chimes in to share an important resource: the Getting Through microsite!

[22:25] What happened when the governor closed the schools? What has Broward County Public Schools done to move their learning to digital?

[27:37] What advice has Dan given teachers about learning expectations, workloads, and the challenges they may face going forward? What have they employed to aid teachers to continue to teach their students?

[31:13] What does Dan mean by a ‘rhizomatic approach?’

[33:56] Dan takes time to remember those who were lost from tragedies in the past. He also shares how this crisis is different from past crises.

[39:06] Dan shares some of the lessons in leadership he has learned due to this crisis.

[43:03] Tom thanks Dan for joining the Getting Smart podcast!


Mentioned in This Episode:

Daniel Gohls LinkedIn

Broward County Public Schools

How Houston Schools Are Making it a Great Global City,” by Tom Vander Ark (A Getting Smart article covering the PowerUp Initiative launched by Terry Grier)

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 234: “Terry Grier on Developing More Than 80 System Leaders


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