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Ellie Drago-Severson

Professional Background

Educational Background

  • B.A., Long Island University
  • Ed.M. (Human Development and Psychology), Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Ed.D. (Human Development and Psychology), Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University

Scholarly Interests

Leadership for adult development. Supporting teachers, principals, assistant principals, superintendents and other educational leaders in their professional and personal development in K-12 schools and adult education settings (domestically and internationally). Designing learning environments that support adult and leadership development. Coaching for growth. Adult learning and literacy. Enhancing doctoral research training. Qualitative research methodology.

Selected Publications

Selected Books

Drago-Severson, E., Blum-DeStefano, J., Asghar, A. (forthcoming 2013). Leading and learning for growth: Preparing leaders for building capacity in our schools and systems. Thousand Oaks,CA : Corwin/Sage Inc.

Drago-Severson, E. (2012). Helping educators grow: Practices and strategies for leadership development. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

Drago-Severson, E. (2009). Leading adult learning: Supporting adult development in our schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage Press. Selected as the National Staff Development book of the fall 2009.

Drago-Severson, E. (2004).  Becoming Adult Learners: Principles and Practice for Effective Development. New York: Teachers College Press.
Drago-Severson, E. (2004). Helping Teachers Learn: Principal Leadership for Adult Growth and Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Awarded National Staff Development Council's 2004 "Book of the Year."

Selected Articles
Drago-Severson, E., Blum, J., & Asghar, A. (fall 2012). Learning and leading for growth: Preparing leaders to support adult development in our schools. Journal of School Leadership (pp. 1-48).

Drago-Severson, E. (2012). The need for principal renewal: The promise of sustaining principals through principal-to-principal reflective practice. Teachers College Record (pp. 1-85).

Drago-Severson, E. (March 2012). New opportunities for principal leadership: Shaping school climates for enhanced teacher development. Teachers College Record, 114(3), 1-30. Also available online 2/2011:

Drago-Severson, E. (October 2011). How adults learn forms the foundation of the Learning Designs standard. Journal of Staff Development, 32(5), 10-12.

Drago-Severson, E., Maslin-Ostrowski, P., Hoffman, A. (spring 2012). Resisting fragmentation: Calling for a holistic approach to professional practice and preparation for educational leaders. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 7(1), 5-43.

Drago-Severson, E., Asghar, A., Blum-DeStefano, J, & Roloff Welch, J. (April 2011). Conceptual Changes in Aspiring School Leaders: Lessons from a University Classroom. Journal of Research on Leadership Education 6(4), 83-132.

Drago-Severson, E., & Aravena, J. L. (April 2011). The power of connectivity: Multilayered program grooms assistant principals' leadership skills. Journal of Staff Development, 32(2), 50-53.

Drago-Severson, E. & Pinto, K. (2009). School leadership in support of teachers' learning: The dramatic differences that financial resources make. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 8(4), 1-31.

Drago-Severson, E. (Fall 2008). 4 practices serve as pillars for adult learning: Learning-oriented leadership offers a promising way to support growth. The Journal of Staff Development, 29(4), 60-63. Feature article.

Drago-Severson, E. (2007). Helping teachers learn: Principals as professional development leaders. Teachers College Record, 109(1), 70-125.

Drago-Severson, E. & Pinto, K. (April-June, 2006). School leadership for reducing teacher isolation: Drawing from the well of human resources. The International Journal of Leadership in Education: Theory and Practice, 9(2), 129-155.

Drago-Severson, E. (forthcoming).  Helping teachers learn: Principals as professional development leaders. To appear in Teachers College Record.

Drago-Severson, E. (2005). How Principals Help Teachers Learn and Grow: Practices and Principles for Effective and Sustaining Professional Development. The Texas Principals' and Supervisors' Newsletter, 1-10.

Drago-Severson, E., & Santos, M.  (2005). Adult Learning and Development Today. In D. Ness (Ed.), Encyclopedia on Education and Human Development. M. E. Sharpe Publishers.

honors and awards

Awarded the 2005 Morningstar Award for Excellence in Teaching, Harvard Graduate School of Education

National Staff Development Council 2004 "Book of the Year" awarded to Helping Teachers Learn: Principal Leadership for Adult Growth and Development

Chair, Adult Literacy and Adult Education Special Interest Group (American Educational Research Association, 2005-06, 2004-05)

principal publications

ORLA 4044: Leadership for adult development

In this course we will explore an expanded notion of leadership that includes supporting adult development as a focal concern. Participants interested in organizational and individual leadership and growth, especially teachers, principals, superintendents, and other leaders, will study how constructive-developmental theory and pillar practices for supporting adult growth can enable leaders to support adults transformational learning. Permission of the instructor is required.

ORLA 4900: Research and independent study in educational leadership

For students wishing to pursue independent study and/or research on topics not covered in regular courses. Requires faculty member's approval of a study plan, reading list, and final paper or other products or projects. Permission required from individual faculty.

Centers and Projects

The Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Public School Principals