Winter 2024 Newsletter


At the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) annual convention, Summit ESC took center stage with its impactful presentation, “Preparing and Promoting Women in Leadership.” 

The session, led by Christina Dinklocker of Summit ESC’s Leadership Services, and Nancy Santilli, Assistant Superintendent at ESC of the Western Reserve, filled the room with 130 attendees. 

The session’s popularity underscored the burgeoning interest in addressing gender leadership disparities in education. Presenting research-based statistics and strategies, the session focused on the advancement of women into leadership roles across schools and districts, while:

  • dismantling the perceived “glass ceiling,” 

  • initiating ongoing women’s networks for training, 

  • and the importance of mock interviews, shadowing, mentoring, and observation opportunities. 

“Our goal was to empower and provide actionable strategies to support the advancement of women in leadership roles within our schools,” shared Christina Dinklocker. 

Summit ESC’s leading role at the convention highlights its commitment to inclusive leadership and professional development in education, and the gathering itself showcased how to drive change and foster diverse leadership in Ohio’s educational communities.

We are proud to partner with you through this exciting season, advancing into a future of equality and empowerment — together! Keep yourself informed about Professional Development opportunities like this one by visiting our online calendar of events often!


The recognition of LifeChanger of the Year is awarded annually to a deserving K-12 educator or school employee who exemplifies excellence, positive influence, and leadership within their district and community. 

Summit ESC is proud to introduce you to TWO remarkable professionals from our districts who have been nominated for this prestigious award:

Jessica Archer

Associate High School Principal at Nordonia High School

Ms. Archer is described as having a remarkable ability to make a beneficial difference in students’ lives. She is passionate about education and goes above and beyond to ensure her students receive the support they need to thrive academically and personally. 

One of Archer’s notable strengths is creating a positive school atmosphere. She possesses exceptional interpersonal skills and fosters an inclusive and welcoming environment for students, staff, and parents. She is also described as a person of high moral and ethical standards, promoting fairness, honesty, and transparency in her school’s culture.

A colleague notes, “I don’t know how she finds the time, but you will find Jessica at almost every high school event (sports, leadership groups, the arts, clubs, etc.), actively encouraging and supporting the students.” 

It takes selflessness, energy, and dedication for an educator to serve so diligently — and Ms. Archer has proven she possesses all three of these qualities in abundance!

Theresa Novak

Special Education Teacher at Woodridge High School

Ms. Novak has been teaching for over 30 years, and she makes a difference every day in the lives of her students through her guidance and support. 

In a selfless act especially worth noting, she recently went above and beyond by literally becoming a LifeChanger in the life of a student she taught 27 years ago …

Novak’s former student was diagnosed in 2017 with a rare autoimmune condition that impacted his liver and endangered his life. With no known cure for his condition, a liver transplant was the only option. 

In June 2022, Novak’s former student was hospitalized with an infection that led his medical team to urgently advise a life-saving liver transplant. Upon learning of the critical health issue, Novak made the extraordinary decision to be a living donor for her former fourth-grade student.

Her selfless act allowed this man to see his little son grow up — and proved how far teachers will go to set their students up for lifelong success.

We invite you to join us in a round of applause for the positive contributions both Ms. Archer and Ms. Novak have made in their schools and the communities served by the Summit ESC. And feel free to show support for our nominees via social media!

We’re pleased to announce that Summit ESC was awarded the prestigious  High-Performing ESC designation for the 2023 fiscal year from the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce! 

This notable recognition is a testament to our unwavering dedication to delivering exceptional service and substantial cost savings to school districts like yours.

  • To be designated as a High-Performing Educational Service Center, an ESC must demonstrate a minimum of 5% total cost savings across five core service areas for its client districts. 

  • This benchmark compares the cost of services if provided by the district or another third-party provider. 

  • Summit ESC has met this benchmark and exceeded it significantly, aligning with the state average of a remarkable 40% savings in 2023.

  • The evaluation criteria set by the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce included an in-depth analysis of the total percentage of cost savings generated by each ESC. 

  • Summit ESC’s achievement in this area highlights our desire for efficiency and effectiveness in providing primary services at competitive prices.

While we’re thrilled to receive this award, but thanks go to you as well … for playing a part in our work to advance education in Ohio. We’re grateful for your shared commitment to excellence!

As an organization, Summit ESC strives to be a thought leader in a variety of ways — professionally, academically, technologically, and beyond.

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is certainly an evolving technology. Still, our genuine desire has been to embrace and fully understand it in order to serve educators and school administrations like yours well. 

As a result, we hosted an AI cohort in the fall — a two-part seminar that brought professionals together to learn the depths of this new technology, avoid being overwhelmed by it, and leverage it as a game-changer in their weekly lives.

Well, it was so popular and successful that we are looking forward to doing it again this spring … please join us!

Day 1 — Feb. 21 — will cover: 

What is AI? How are we using it in the real world and education?

Day 2 — April 23 — will explore: 

Practical application of AI in the classroom.

You’ll get:

1.    Actual focused, hands-on interaction with things that can be implemented practically and immediately.

2.    An understanding of how AI should be part of computer literacy classes.

3.    A better understanding of A’Is ever-changing nature — and that it’s here to stay. Therefore, we should familiarize ourselves with it as best we can.

Please register here for the event as soon as you can. Spaces will fill up quickly! 

In related news, as part of our partnership with Ohio X, Summit ESC Curriculum and Instruction Director Corey Hoynacke was asked to present at the upcoming Ohio EdTech Summit: Thursday, Feb. 29, 12:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. at John Carroll University (Dolan Center for Science & Technology).

Entitled “Ohio’s AI Opportunity to Lead,” the day’s content and conversation will revolve around “the current EdTech state of play, discuss the transformative impact of AI on Ohio, and explore how through a partnership between industry, education, and government we can become a leader in tech-focused education.”

For speaker info, event details, and agenda highlights, please click here

It’s a privilege to keep YOU on the cutting edge of emerging and changing technology for the sake of your district and its students. We hope to see you at one or both of these events!

Christina Dinklocker of Summit ESC’s Leadership Services is implementing a unique approach to defining and creating school culture among leadership in two local districts: Cuyahoga Heights and Woodridge. 

Matt Young, Cuyahoga Heights Assistant Superintendent, says, “The experience, wisdom, and expertise of Dr. Dinklocker was invaluable in empowering my team to explore the complexities of our organization’s culture. Her approach and ability to engage us in meaningful dialogue, reflective thoughts, and actionable solutions was so impactful. She met us ‘where we are’ during each session, allowing us to be vulnerable, honest, and empathetic … Although we have just touched the surface, having someone of Dr. Dinklocker’s talent as a resource and change agent gives me confidence that the work ahead of us can be both transformational and sustainable.”

She says by defining the various components that make up an organization’s culture, and working through each of these elements as a team, a school can build a more positive culture for all teachers and staff. 

Christina uses a visual “wheel” to illustrate the various components of culture within an organization, and says, “The work I do with each school system consists of working through each ‘spoke’ of the wheel by identifying the strengths and needs in each category.” 

Spokes of the Culture Wheel:

  1. Problem-solving: Is there a recognized problem-solving process/flow in the district?

  1. Conflict resolution: Is there a method of de-escalation with students and adults to teach productive relationships and find paths forward?

  1. Stress management: Is there an understanding of the science of stress and the benefits of creating positive neural pathways?

  1. Team building: How are individuals accountable to district goals, administrative colleagues, and team members?

  1. Relationships: Do the staff, as individuals, have an appropriate balance between task-mindedness and authentic relationships?

  1. Communication: Is the language of the culture responsive, true, and kind? 

  1. Customer service: How are others treated, both inside and outside the district?

Christina explains this process requires a great deal of authentic dialogue to bring about growth, but there are three imperative and hard-won outcomes for a successful collaboration: 

  1. An understanding of how to “work smarter” as a team.

  2. The evolution and clarification of team identity. 

  3. A cohesive forward-moving direction as a district. 

What happens after school leaders go through this culture analysis? Some districts use this process for ongoing discussion and awareness about their school’s culture, while others take this training to the school board and entire staff.

Christina’s innovative approach to defining and creating school culture has far-reaching benefits for a school’s staff and, by extension, its students. It is true that we, as educators, are better together — and with healthier school cultures across the region, we are making a real difference in the lives of the students we serve.

Contact Christina today for more info.

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