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Values Driven Leadership: An Interview with Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl
Episode 625th November 2022 • Turning Points in Leadership • Dr. Kristen Albert
00:00:00 01:03:06

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In this episode, Kris interviews Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl. Connect with Dr. Reichl at

Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl is a champion of mentorship and motivation. Dr. Reichl's mission is to encourage educators and leaders to reflect on our teaching practices while making key changes to refresh strategies that represent a shared vision to enrich the curriculum, classroom, company, and community.

Dr. Reichl’s unique experiences have permitted her to expand her multifaceted career into a portfolio as a clinician, conductor, instructor, writer, and speaker. She is the author of nearly 100 articles that have been reprinted with permission by more than 10 organizations worldwide. She designed these mentoring pieces into a graduate course that she instructs at The University of the Arts (Philadelphia) and VanderCook

College of Music (Chicago). Dr. Reichl also creates inspirational content for a monthly newsletter consisting of almost 2,000 subscribers. Musically, Dr. Reichl has served as an adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor for honor bands in a handful of states. Generally, for all areas and levels of education, Dr. Reichl has presented more than 100 professional development sessions and keynote speeches for educational systems, organizations, and conferences in almost half of the nation's states including international events.

In addition, she has been interviewed for 15 education and leadership podcasts.

Discover more about Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl and her passionate work.

Subscribe to the Making Key Changes newsletter to receive a monthly inspirational message from Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl.

Hire Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl to speak at your next event.

Connect with Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl. She is also active on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



Hello and welcome to Turning Points in Leadership. I am Dr. Kristen Albert, and I'm happy that you joined us today. I want to tell you a little bit about the Turning Points Leadership Podcast so that you have a context for what it is that we do here in the podcast, I interview folks who are changing the image of the leader from having to be someone at the top of the corporate ladder, or holding a title of privilege to be able to have influence.

Instead, my guests are leading change in bold and inspiring ways, and I hope that you, my audience, will be inspired by them and consider how you can become a catalyst for change in your spheres of influence. And today I want to welcome my. Educator, author and speaker, Dr. Laurie Schwartz Reichl. Hi Laurie.

I'm so glad we have this time together today. Thanks for being my guest.


Thank you for having me. I appreciate having the space to share my ideas and experiences to have them heard and be valued, so thank you so much.


Oh, absolutely. One of the things I I have dedicated myself to is especially amplifying women's voices leaders, women who are leaders and amplifying women's voices because we haven't always been heard.

So I'm very excited for you to be able share that with folks. So let me tell the audience a little bit about you. Dr. Laurie Schwartz Reichl is a champion of mentorship and motivation. Dr. Reich's mission is to encourage educators and leaders to reflect on their teaching practices while making key changes to refresh strategies that represent a shared vision to enrich the curriculum, the classroom, the company, and the community.

Dr. Reich's unique experiences have permitted her to expand her multifaceted career. Into a portfolio as a clinician, conductor, instructor, writer, and speaker. She's the author of nearly 100 articles that have been reprinted with permission by more than 10 organizations worldwide. She designed these mentoring pieces into a graduate course that she instructs at the Uni University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Vandercook College of Music in Chicago.

Dr. Reichl also creates inspirational content for a monthly newsletter that has almost 2000 subscribers, which is just incredible musically. Dr. Reichl has served as an adjudicator clinician and guest conductor for honor bands in a handful of states generally, for all areas and levels of education. Dr.

Reichl has presented more than a hundred professional development sessions and keynote speeches for educational systems, organizations, and conferences in almost half of the nation states, including international events. In addition, she's been interviewed for 15 Education and Leadership podcast and is thrilled to be speaking with us today.

Lori, I aspire to be you when I grow up. I just want to say that .

LORI: Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. I aspire to be you when I was in your classroom. So we'll give it back and forth to each other. Oh, yes. My sister and I like to call it the Mutual Admiration Society, so we can consider ourselves fully fledged members.

As you just mentioned when you were in my classroom, and I'm especially interested in spotlighting int individuals who embody leadership without, again, without needing to have a title, a corporation or a title of privilege to make a difference. And one of the things I've been fascinated about watching you, and of course we knew each other back in the early two thousands.

What year did you graduate from


West Chester? December, 2001?


There you go. Okay. And I came there in January of 2001, so we crossed paths for about 12 months. But one of the things that I've been fascinated to know is how you made this shift from boots on the ground educator, to doing what you're doing now.

Could you tell me more about how you stepped into leadership in this way?


Sure. I guess I'll start with my teaching path because I feel like it's very important to learn what I was doing before I was doing my current work. So after graduating from Westchester in December of 2001, and I have to say, Dr. Albert, you were such a ray of light when you came to Westchester. Up until that time, most of the professors and educators that I had were male and we had very few females, and those that were there were much older and farther in their career. So when you came, it was like here. She and you brought such kindness into the classroom space and you made us feel as though we were welcomed.

We could share. I remember having a conversation with you in your office about a concern that I had, and it reciprocated into everything that we did in the classroom, in our student teaching, where we went from there. So even though we only knew each other for about 12 months or so, It was an incredible opportunity to have you as a professor and a mentor in my life, so thank you,


Thank you for those kind words. I receive them. Thank you.


Oh, you're welcome.

After leaving Westchester the next day, I graduated on a Sunday, and the next day I started a long-term sub position, which lasted about a few weeks outside of Westchester in the Colonial School, Plymouth White Marsh School District.

But I eventually transferred to Daniel Boone School District a few months later where they had a position available and I became the first full-time band director for that school system for five years. I was responsible for helping to grow the program. It had been a junior. Senior high band and it went to a middle school high school program.

I was responsible for creating, designing, and implementing that curriculum, and I had 212 musicians that I was responsible at the time. So at the age of 23, I looked like some of my eighth graders at the time, but I had to manage the space as this leader to help them aspire to what they wanted to do and to encourage them to continue.

I was there for five years. I loved my time there. I would've certainly spent my career there. Had I not met my husband who I, he's an electrical engineer from the Baltimore, DC area and his job, and he made it very clear was stationed in that area, and that if we were going to continue a life together and wanted to, build a life together, that one of us would move.

And so I made that decision. I was ready for a change. And so I made that decision to move from rural Pennsylvania to suburban urban Baltimore. And from there I went from teaching in a rural school where, The demographics were very similar from ethnicity to race, to special education, to socioeconomics, even religion, to a school that had 74 nationalities represented.

We were a Title I school. We were placed into corrective action while I was there, which means we were taken over by the state because we couldn't pass or certain population of students, so they say couldn't pass standardized test scores. But even during that time we proved that music was a great place in their life, and that oftentimes that's the reason why children come to school.

I had an administrator who supported my teaching efforts and supporting the subject that I was teaching. It wasn't an easy change. So I went from teaching in a very large school where I felt very comfortable to a much smaller school completely different demographics, different needs. We had students who were homeless didn't nearly have the resources that the children I had at the previous school did.

But that was a blessing in disguise. And I needed to experience that opportunity to help a different population of students and their families and to embrace the uniqueness that those children, that community, and their families could bring. And I walked in there and thought, if we're gonna do this, I'm gonna love them like human beings first, and then we'll make music second.

And so once I realized, Just needed someone in their life that could support them, that could love them, and could believe in them. The music came, and so after eight years of being at this school that had originally been a revolving door of band directors, we were the featured middle school band at our state music conference, and we shared our love of music and learning with the community.

We went, if you're a musician, you'll understand this, but we went from performing grade one music to successfully performing grade four music at this middle school level, and the families and students just rallied around what it meant to embrace our uniqueness and to unify a cohesive sound. At the end of eight years I was ready for a change.

I felt as though the program was able to maintain itself. I loved everything about who I was working with, who I was leading. Who I was serving, but ready for a change. And my principal was asked to open the 20th middle school in our county at the time, and she was able to invite five teachers from the current school to open the brand new school with her.

So she asked three special education teachers, the science team lead, and myself, a music educator band director. And I thought that spoke volumes about where the importance of the new school was going to be. I took about three weeks to make my decision, but after I threw up, over eight cried, I decided I was ready for a change and I was ready to help another community and to inspire them.

And so I made that change. I was there for about a year and a half. Loved every minute of opening that brand new school and developing that curricula and inspiring those students. But at the age of 37, I had my first child, Harper, and then two years later, at 39, I had my son Hudson. And I made a very clear decision that as I was halfway through my career, I wanted to really focus on family.

And so I went to my school system and asked, could I work part-time after my 12 weeks of normal maternity leave, could I return on a part-time basis? This was in 2016. And they said no. And they, not just for me, but for anybody. They would not take a full-time position and turn it part-time. They did offer me, and I'll give them credit, they did offer me part-time positions, but it was not in the area that I felt were my strengths, nor that I knew that I would want to leave my children every morning to pursue a different position.

So I made the decision to go on leave, and then eventually I left the school system. And during that time, it was my mission to stay as active within education. Also within music education and to remain relevant, it was important to me to stay up on all of the new teachings. I ended up going back and re earning my administrator cert certificate and then eventually earning my doctorate a few years later and to offer what I could to music teachers.

And it became very clear that what I had to say was resonating with other people. And so I started by writing a column for a music education magazine, and very soon, some of my colleagues said, Lori, this work is transparent into any area of education or even outside of education. And so I started to write a little bit more generally then.

And so my column was then picked up by the National Association for Music Education, and that allowed me to touch 130,000 music educators at a time and to share my work and so forth. And so I realized with the support of my husband, my family, and many people that helped with childcare along the way, that teaching does not have to be in the constraints of a school building or four walls.

It can be anywhere. It can be within your home, it can be within your community. Just like you say, you don't necessarily have to have that title to be a leader. And it took me time to. Develop that and to understand that. But once I grasped that concept, I just kept going with it. And so the opportunities have been tremendous.

Now I have the opportunity to speak to educators, and not only within education, but other companies and leaders too, on how we can reflect on our teaching and leading practices and create a shared vision for those we serve, be it students, be it teachers, if we're an administrator, our clients, our employees, and have that shared vision, not only in our classroom as educators, but in our companies and within our communities.

And it's just been amazing to see. And every day, every week, every month is a new opportunity. And for me, I like making key changes. And so it has been awesome to see where this continues to go.


Oh, that was just so inspiring. Oh my goodness. Just incredible. Thank you. I'm a very, I'm a very much a feeler, so right now I'm just like feeling this warmth that's just blowing over my body.

I feel like I've just had warm chocolate poured over my head.

But it's just so beautiful what you have, how you have named and claimed your gifts and been so very intentional about that decision that you made about staying relevant and wanting to keep your finger on the pulse of what was happening in education and how you've expanded that into really this vision that it's, that education is happening again, just like leadership, just like I said to you earlier before we came on the call about, From the time we step out of bed in the morning, I believe we're leading and you are saying we are educating.

Every moment of every day are opportunities for learning and sharing and growing and leading, and you're just embracing those. It's beautiful.


Thank you. I say, it's a shame though that I love what happened to me and the opportunities that are happening and what I'm sharing with others, but it's a shame that the school system and education in general didn't pick up on this.

We're doing everything we can to make accommodations for our students and our learners from our youngest learners to our oldest, but we refuse to make accommodations for our employees and until education. Makes that shift in their mindset, why do I have to be a full-time teacher? Could I share my classroom space with another teacher?

What if you and I co-taught that class? We see that happen in many other different subjects and areas and professions. My husband has staff members and employees within his organization that are given that time to do, if it's raising children, helping an ailing parent, going on for schooling, where they can still maintain some level of their position.

And in education, we just haven't gotten there yet. And it is my mission to make that happen because we're losing teachers for many reasons. At alarming rates. Alarming rates, and this was right before the pandemic. And I think, geez, even after the pandemic, we still aren't learning what we could be doing to accommodating some of our best educators.

Yeah. Absolutely. And I, as you're describing that, I'm thinking that education in, in, in terms of how we're dealing with our employees and how we're, the lack of creativity is really, I think, grounded in fear and loss of control. There's this fear, if we are creative, we're gonna have to do that for everybody, and if we do that for everybody, what that, they're just there's this fear of innovation.

And I think it's really holding education back for what it absolutely could become. Yeah. And think of the dividends that, that would pay for the children. In those classrooms, if their teachers are. Treated with kindness and respect and honor and given given the space to create what they need so that they can do their best work.

And to learn from educators that are excited to be there. If, and I understand that my position is quite different and privileges that I have, and opportunities that I have, and I realize that's different from everyone. If I would have gone back into the classroom full-time, I would've given it my all.

Like I always do. But would my heart have been there? Like it would've been, no, it would've been home with my children and I would've had that, hostility, I think in the back of my mind at all times, and I know myself, that would've come out in my classroom teaching and in the way I was building relationships with my students.

But if we could accommodate our teachers, Our clients, our employees, our staff members for what their needs are. Then they're gonna come to the table, to the classroom, to the company with their best mindset, with the open heart and open mind and everything that they can give to those that they're serving.

So I think we're missing the mark and it's my...