The live webcast was organized by the HOPE Foundation and the School Improvement Network, and it marked the official launch of the foundation’s Courageous Leaders Network. The network is an initiative committed to building a professional community of educators who examine and develop best practices to improve achievement for all school students and also provides access to the latest tools and resources to further help our hard working teachers develop a collaborative culture.

I have been involved in the education community all of my life. Beginning first as a high-risk youth, I was blessed with mentors who guided me and helped me to achieve my own dreams—not just of graduating high school, but moving into college and graduate school before starting my own education foundation.

I’ve spent the better part of 15 years researching schools across the country, and working to get at the heart of what works when it comes to improving our schools. Through all my years advocating enduring education reform, I have worked with schools across the country on why the importance of courageous leadership is crucial and the steps needed for true school reform.

There are so many untold stories of our successes with students in our schools: the teacher who invested in a struggling student, or the principal who took extra time to foster a young person’s growth.

These acts have ripple effects that continue for generations, creating a collective culture in which courageousness is the norm—creating places in which the entire school community can realistically expect sustained success for themselves and for all students.

Alan M. Blankstein is author of the award-winning book, Failure Is Not an Option: Six Principles That Guide Student Achievement in High-Performing Schools, now out in its second edition by Corwin Press. More than 200,000 people received copies of the first edition, which has become a gold standard in school reform and sustaining learning communities, and this second edition, a joint publication of Corwin, the HOPE Foundation, and the National Education Association, is again an instant best seller.