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Michael McDowell

McDowell, Michael

Michael McDowell, Ed.D. is a national presenter, speaking on instruction, learning, leadership and innovation. He has provided professional development services to large school districts, State Departments of Education, and higher education. In addition, he was a former National Faculty member for the Buck Institute of Education and a key thought leader in the inception of their leadership work in scaling innovation in instructional methodologies. His expertise in design and implementation is complimented by his scholarly approach to leadership, learning, and instruction. 

He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Redlands and an Ed.D. from the University of La Verne. He received departmental honors for his work in Environmental Science and was awarded the Tom Fine Creative Leadership Award for his doctoral work at the University of La Verne. He has also completed certification programs through Harvard University, the California Association of School Business Officials, the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, and Cognition Education. He holds both a California single subject teaching credential and an administrative credential.

Dr. McDowell currently serves as the Superintendent of the Ross School District. Most recently, he served as the Associate Superintendent of Instructional and Personnel Services at the Tamalpais Union High School District. During his tenure, the Tamalpais Union High School District was recognized by the Marzano Research Laboratories as one of the top highly reliable organizations in the United States, and schools within the district received recognitions by the US News and World Report, and honored with California Distinguished Schools accolades.

Prior to his role as a central office administrator, Dr. McDowell served as the Principal of North Tahoe High School, a California Distinguished School. Prior to administration, Dr. McDowell was a leadership and instructional coach for the New Tech Network supporting educators in designing, implementing, and enhancing innovative schools across the country. Before engaging in the nonprofit sector, Dr. McDowell created and implemented an environmental science and biology program at Napa New Technology High School, infusing 1:1 technology, innovative teaching and assessment, and leveraging student voice in the classroom. Additionally, Dr. McDowell, taught middle school math and science in Pacifica, CA.

Areas of expertise
  • Instructional Leadership
  • Instructional Growth
  • Teacher Effectiveness



  • Rigorous PBL: This one-day session provides a general overview of the research behind the Rigorous PBL approach and highlights specific practices for designing and implementing problem and project based learning in K-12 classrooms.
  • Rigorous PBL Foundation Days: This series walks teachers through the development of a rigorous problem or project that they can use in the classroom. The Foundation Days gives teachers time to explore the three key design shifts of clarity, challenge, and culture.
  • Rigorous Deep Dive Session Instructional Coaching Institute: This two-day session walks instructional coaches and site principals through a number of strategies and tools that can support new and veteran teachers through the project design and implementation process.
  • The Lead Learner Foundation Day: Learn how to develop clarity, coherence, and capacity across a school system or within a school to make a substantial impact on student and teacher learning. 
  • The Lead Learner Day Dive Institute: This workshop focuses on developing proficiency in leadership tools that substantially enhances the knowledge and skills of school and system leaders.

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What People are Saying

"Michael is well-versed in Visible Learning and had so much to offer our administration and leaders. We learned about new areas of focus as well as tools to gather evidence."

-Patricia Lopez, Director of Teaching and Learning, Cartwright School District, Phoenix, AZ