Rebecca Thessin

Rebecca Thessin
Assistant Professor, Educational Administration
(202) 994-1342

Rebecca A. Thessin is an Assistant Professor of Educational Administration at the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Dr. Thessin conducts research in the areas of instructional leadership, professional learning, school and district improvement, and leadership preparation. She recently concluded a study funded by the Spencer Foundation to examine how principal supervisors and principals collaborate to facilitate school improvement in high needs schools.

Prior to her current position, she served as the Chief School Improvement Officer for the Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Schools, and she also served as the Associate Superintendent for Professional Development and School Support for this same district. In these roles, she implemented a districtwide approach to school improvement and coached principals at the district’s traditionally lowest-performing schools to improve teaching and learning. She previously served as the Director of School Improvement and Professional Development in the Stamford, CT Public Schools; as the Aide to the Deputy Superintendent in the Boston Public Schools; as an administrative intern at a Boston high school; and as a high school teacher in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.

Dr. Thessin holds a doctorate in the Urban Superintendency from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Master’s degrees in School Leadership and in Education Policy and Management from Harvard and a Bachelor’s degree in History and Teacher Preparation from Yale University. Dr. Thessin teaches in GW’s Educational Administration licensure and doctoral programs, and frequently instructs courses on instructional leadership and action research, as well as on the administrative internship.


Thessin, R.A., Shirrell, M., & Richardson, T. (accepted). Distributing leadership development: Principal supervisors’ interactions with school leadership teams. Planning and Changing 49(3/4).

Thessin, R.A. (accepted). Coaching and collaborating for instructional leadership. School Administrator.

Thessin, R.A. & Seashore Louis, K. (2020, April). The principal’s role has changed – How are central offices changing their approach? The Learning Professional.

Thessin, R.A., Clayton, J., & Richardson, T. (2019). An exploration of a new superintendent’s transition team as a facilitator of organizational socialization of senior district administrators. International Journal of Leadership in Education, DOI: 10.1080/13603124.2019.1673904

Thessin, R.A. & Seashore Louis, K. (2019, August). Preparing effective principal supervisors. Kappan Magazine, 101(1), p. 48.

Thessin, R.A. & Seashore Louis, K. (2019). The role of districts and other agencies in supporting school leaders’ instructional leadership. Journal of Educational Administration 57(5), 434-444.

Thessin, R.A. (2019). Establishing productive principal/principal supervisor partnerships for instructional leadership. Journal of Educational Administration 57(5), 463-483.

Thessin, R.A., Clayton, J.K., and Jamison, K. (2018). Profiles of the administrative internship: The mentor/intern partnership in facilitating leadership experiences. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 1-28.

Thessin, R. A., Scully-Russ, E., Hildreth, J., and *Lieberman, D. (2018). Key features to inform student outcomes: Learning from a high school healthcare education program. International Journal of Educational Reform 27(2).

Thessin, R. A., Scully-Russ, E., & Lieberman, D. (2017). Critical success factors in a high school healthcare education program. Journal of Career and Technical Education, 32(1), 51-72. Retrieved from:

Thessin, R. A., & Clayton, J. (2017, January). Metro Nashville Public Schools transition team report. Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Jones, C. M., & Thessin, R. A. (2017). Sustaining continuous improvement through professional learning communities in a secondary school. Journal of School Leadership, 27(2), 214-241.

Clayton, J., & Thessin, R. A. (2017). Voices of educational administration internship mentors. Mentoring and Tutoring: Partners in Learning, 25(3), 291-308. doi:10.1080/13611267.2017.1364836

Allen, J. G., & Thessin, R. A. (2017). The extent to which the school leader makes efforts to close black male achievement gaps that promote reconciliation of value differences within the school organization. Journal of Ethical Educational Leadership, 4(7), 1-37. Retrieved from:

Clayton, J., & Thessin, R. A. (2016). Learning from graduates and interns: Examining graduate and student experiences in the education administration internship. Education Leadership Review, 17(1), 17-42.

Thessin, R. A. (2015). Learning from one urban district: Planning to provide essential supports for teachers’ work in professional learning communities. Educational Planning, 22(1), 15-27.

Thessin, R. A. (2015). The need to use evidence in school-based K-12 improvement efforts. Kappan Magazine.

Jones, C. M., & Thessin, R. A. (2015). A review of the literature related to the change process schools undergo to sustain PLCs. Planning and Changing, 46(1/2), 193-211.

Jones, C. M., Thessin, R. A., & Clayton, J. (2014) The culture of one school sustaining the work of continuous improvement through professional learning communities. Journal of Ethical Educational Leadership, 1(10). Retrieved from

Baxter, V., Thessin, R. A., & Clayton, J. (2014). Communitarian leadership practice acquisition in educational leadership preparation. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 9(2). 10-27. Retrieved from

Thessin, R. A., & Clayton, J. (2013). Perspectives of school leaders on the administrative internship. Journal of Educational Administration, 51 (6), 790-811.

Thessin, R. A., & Starr, J. P. (2013). The district’s role in leading improvement: Professional learning communities as the starting point. In K. Hewitt, C. Childers-McKee, E. Hodge, & R. Schuhler (Eds.), Postcards from the schoolhouse: Practitioner scholars examine contemporary issues in instructional leadership. Ypsilanti, Michigan: NCPEA Publications.

Thessin, R. A. (2012, March). Next Steps in DC education evaluation and research (Working paper no. 2.1). Washington, D. C.: The George Washington University.

Thessin, R. A., Ed. (2011, Sept.). Transition team report. Rockville, MD: The Montgomery County Public Schools.

Thessin, R. A., & Starr, J. P. (2011, March). Supporting the growth of effective professional learning communities districtwide. Kappan Magazine.

Thessin, R. A. (2011). Teaching notes and appendices. In L. Boozer, L. Kelley, R. Peterkin, & D. Jewell-Sherman (Eds.), Every child, every classroom, every day: Notable superintendents and researchers tackle the critical issues facing our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Thessin, R. A. (2007). Building assessment literacy: Newton North High School gets smart about data. In K. P. Boudett, & J. L. Steele (Eds.), Data wise in action: Stories of schools using data to improve teaching and learning (pp. 29-50). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

In the News


Dr. Rebecca A. Thessin and Karen Seashore Louis published “The principal’s role has changed: Is principal learning keeping up?” in the April 2020 issue of The Learning Professional.

Dr. Rebecca Thessin, Dr. Jennifer Clayton, and doctoral student Tamilah Richardson (Educational Administration) attended and presented at the University Council for Educational Administration conference in Houston, Texas. Dr. Thessin led a Critical Conversation on the topic of instructional and leadership coaching with Shelby Cosner (UIC) and Sarah Woulfin (UCONN). She also organized a symposium entitled, “System Support for School-Based Instructional Leadership: An Interactive Symposium” in which she presented a paper. Dr. Clayton presented a paper entitled, "Equity-Minded Leadership: How School Leaders Make Meaning of Building Mindsets and Practices." Tamilah Richardson gave a presentation entitled, “Exploring How to Mitigate the Early Career Minority Teacher Shortage Through Teacher Leadership.” They also collectively attended and facilitated the Leadership for School Improvement Business Meeting while they were in Houston.

Dr. Rebecca Thessin, Dr. Jennifer Clayton, and GSEHD alumna Dr. Kim Jamison (Ed.D., Educational Administration) recently published an article in the Journal of Research on Leadership Education entitled, “Profiles of the Administrative Internship: The Mentor/Intern Partnership in Facilitating Leadership Experiences.”

Dr. Rebecca Thessin, Dr. Ellen Scully-Russ, and GSEHD alumna Dr. Daina Lieberman (Ed.D., Educational Administration) recently published an article in the Journal of Career and Technical Education entitled Critical Success Factors in a High School Healthcare Education Program. The research reported in the article was supported by funds from the Claude Moore Foundation.