People Are Talking

Bryan Hassel

Co-Director, Public Impact

Dan was the point person in Project L.I.F.T.’s implementation of my organization’s Opportunity Culture initiative. Since L.I.F.T. was the first set of schools to undertake this work, our team worked hand-in-hand with Dan for two years through all the initial challenges and successes.

He brings a deep HR background, but he can and does think outside the box of conventional human capital strategies. He’s willing to challenge every assumption to deliver great talent for classrooms. And he’ll do what it takes to get the job done. Resolve is the perfect name for his company.

Dan did an amazing job recruiting teachers for Opportunity Culture positions in Project L.I.F.T. The first year, more than 30 people applied per open position, from literally all over the country. When most high-need schools struggle to fill vacancies, Dan used high-paid teacher leader roles to flood his schools with applicants.

Alison Welcher

Director of School Leadership, Project L.I.F.T., Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Dan served as my Human Capital Strategist while I served as a principal with CMS. The role of a principal is complex, and the challenges that a high-need principal faces can at times seem overwhelming. Dan’s expertise and leadership in human capital not only supported the transactional work of recruiting, selecting, hiring and retaining staff, but also the transformational work to think differently about how we staff high-need schools.

Dan was critical to the success of Ranson IB Middle School from 2011 to 2015, when he facilitated the collaboration with Public Impact to implement Opportunity Culture. His passion for what’s possible motivated me to take a risk on a new staffing strategy that would ultimately result in Ranson IB becoming one of the highest-gaining schools in terms of student growth in the state of North Carolina. Dan served as a thought partner, strategist, motivator and critical friend through a change process to transform human capital at Ranson IB. Dan’s direct support to me as a school leader resulted in a significant impact in increasing student achievement at Ranson IB.

Aimee Wagner

Principal Intern, Queens University SELA Program
Multi-Classroom Leader, Earth & Environmental Science, West Charlotte High School

Dan recruited me to teach at Project L.I.F.T. during the summer prior to the first year of the initiative’s implementation. He was instrumental in walking me through the hiring and licensure process, as I was an out-of-state teaching candidate.

His interview process is extremely unique. One of the characteristics we value most in teaching candidates is a growth mindset. The interview questions that Dan utilizes in his screening process allow our hiring team to easily access whether or not the candidate possesses a growth mindset and will be open to coaching. We have been able to hire mission-aligned staff as a result of implementing Dan’s processes.

Greg Schermbeck

Founder and Principal, Schermbeck Consulting

Dan and I worked together to help rework teacher pay and performance evaluation within a larger EDU reform initiative. Every interaction with Dan was pleasant and made me believe he wanted to cut bureaucracy and do what was best for kids.

He has a unique ability to merge best business practices that align with the organizational structure of school districts. I appreciate that Dan values time, efficiency and results that benefit all stakeholders. My experience working with him provided insight into how to be practical and efficient in bringing change and results to systems that need it the most.

Katharine Bonasera

Principal, Allenbrook Elementary

Dan and I have worked together since December of 2013. He is the one who recruited me and encouraged me to apply for the principal position at Allenbrook. In our time together, we’ve worked closely to implement and refine the opportunity culture plan at Allenbrook, fill key vacancies and recruit high-quality teacher candidates.

He has a deep understanding of the strengths and opportunities for growth at my school. He spends time with me to understand our goals and then develop strategies that best match the school. I appreciate how he is constantly thinking outside the box and brings new and innovative ideas for our talent strategy.This helps our school really shine as we work to recruit and retain the best talent for students.

Every year that I’ve worked with Dan, we’ve increased the quality of talent that we are recruiting to Allenbrook. Additionally, we’ve refined our Opportunity Culture plan to best match the needs of the school and now have a complete career pathway in place which we hope will lead to teacher retention. I think the most notable positive impact is the work Dan has done to move up our staffing and hiring timelines. We are getting fully staffed sooner with higher-quality candidates because we are starting the process much earlier in the year.

Kristin Cubbage

Multi-Classroom Leader II, K-2, Ashley Park PreK-8 School

My interactions with Dan have always been professional, positive and fun. He is an extremely hard worker with incredible vision for ways to change current situations to make them better. He’s innovative and a risk taker, which isn’t normal in education. He makes changes that benefit every student, teacher and leader in our schools.

Dan is extremely personable. He makes you feel like he’s a good friend, but at the same time, he challenges you and exposes you to new opportunities. Dan recognizes talent instantly and works tirelessly to stimulate the leaders he has found and employed. He has connected me with so many opportunities in my school district. I’ve traveled, been in videos, written articles, been interviewed by magazines and sat on panels to help other districts, and this isn’t normal in our schools today. Dan creates these opportunities for many teachers and leaders in our schools. He is unique because of how he finds talent and then finds ways to reward us and to keep us stimulated.

Dan has recruited and retained the best teachers I have. He found one of my highest-performing teachers and even though she had little experience, he took a risk on her because he knew her personality was right for our school. She has turned out to be incredible and a perfect match on my team. Dan has also helped me in my Multi-Classroom Leader role, has given me the opportunity to travel and work across the U.S. with other educators, has chosen specific coaching models that allowed me to receive prestigious coaching from district partners, has empowered me to help hire teachers and coaches, and has asked me to work with him on special projects for the district. My entire career has changed since working with Dan, and I would not have had the opportunity or exposure to any of it without him. He knows his staff members so well that he can easily plug them into roles that will benefit the school district and their personal careers. I can’t say enough about Dan. He is seriously the best. I have loved working with him, learning from him and having him on our team.

A. Jordan Todd

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the Year 2016, Walter G. Byers, a CMS Strategic Staffing School

I met Dan during the Project L.I.F.T. interviews at the start of this initiative in CMS four years ago. He was my direct point of contact for Project L.I.F.T. since the first day. He delivered all of L.I.F.T.’s information and important notices to staff. He handled all of my HR, licensure concerns and personal issues with care. He provided opportunities for me outside the classroom and encouraged me to participate in different facets of L.I.F.T.

Dan was very enthusiastic when describing L.I.F.T.’s initiatives and why he believed I should be a part of this movement. He took the time to get to know me and my background to determine the best placement for me as well as additional opportunities. Dan knew me by name since the beginning and always made me feel that I was important and necessary in this field. I appreciate the attention that he has given me throughout the last four years of L.I.F.T. His passion for making a difference in the lives of our students matched mine.

He has always provided support, answers, and immediate feedback. I was able capitalize on a number of opportunities outside of the classroom simply because Dan identified specific qualities that I had. He has always kept me connected and informed. He has been extremely supportive and encouraging. Last year, he encouraged the development of my professional development for a teacher-led conference. He has been instrumental to my success and I am grateful to have worked with him.

Anna Spangler-Nelson

Chairman and Executive Vice President, Spangler Companies, Inc.
Project L.I.F.T. Co-chairperson

Dan’s work directly and very positively impacts Project L.I.F.T.’s top priority: the recruitment of top teaching talent. He has measurably and meaningfully improved the quality of our talent pool, and we are grateful for his innovative and tireless effort. I don’t know that we could be doing this work without Dan; he has been passionate about the cause, loyal to the work, and is a highly valued member of the L.I.F.T. team.