For almost thirty years, Dr. Frank Tiano has worked as an educational leader. Though his roles have varied from central administration leadership, including superintendent and assistant superintendent of schools, to building principal at two levels, to his elementary teaching days, he has continuously looked beyond his immediate context to extend beyond his own personal and professional growth. Since 2013, Dr. Tiano has worked with fellow Massachusetts Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and other educational, political and industry leaders to study schools in countries that have demonstrated academic success. In addition to his own research, the learning activities have including international travel, book studies, as well as local, state, and international interactive educational forums.
Inspired by a study abroad experience as an undergraduate, Dr. Tiano has prioritized traveling in his personal and professional life. Through first-hand experiences meeting with educators at the local, state, federal, and university levels in several countries, he has seen the development of policies and practices that have greatly altered the trajectory of those countries. Learning about the historical, political, and religious contexts in which these systems were developed and nurtured has deepened Dr. Tiano’s understanding of the levels of his own educational environment. It has also helped to strengthen his foundational knowledge and perspective on which to apply his decision making.
In 2013, Dr. Tiano was honored to be a part of the 2nd Massachusetts Delegation to Finland and Germany. Finnish schools were was the internationally top-rated school system while Germany was not far behind. Both countries began their significant educational reforms around the same time. Having a chance to meet some of the actual players in these movements and talk extensively with educators and students at all levels provided the delegation with an incredible opportunity to compare and contrast not only the German and Finnish educational systems with each other but also with that of Massachusetts and the United States.
In Finland, Dr. Tiano met with leaders of the National Board of Education; faculty and students from the University of Helsinki Teacher Training School; and teachers and students from several public schools ranging from pre-K to high school. Back in the United States, the delegation also had a private presentation with Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, a globally recognized educational leader and former Director General of Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture.
In Germany, meetings with members of the Federal Ministry of Education and the Berlin State Department of Education were quite fascinating given the compromises needed after the unification of east and west after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Dr. Tiano, found that the interaction with students and staff at the public schools provided significant insight as well to Germany’s educational successes.
In the fall of 2017, Dr. Tiano traveled with the 1st Massachusetts Delegation to Poland to study its rise in the international educational rankings. Along with incredible opportunities to better understand Polish history and its impact on the educational and social transformations since 1989, he had the opportunity to meet with the architect of the Polish educational reform, Dr. Miroslaw Handke. From that meeting at the University of Krakow and other educational site visits, Dr. Tiano learned that much like Finland, Germany, and the United States, the Polish educational system, from preschool to university, are continuously shaped by history and politics.
Dr. Tiano continues to learn from the success and failures of schools in other countries. The values of a community, whether the community is national, state, or local, greatly impacts the type of education its students receive. By experiencing other cultures, either through travel or through research, Dr. Tiano has identified consistent themes that successful communities embed into their school systems. They include a systematic focus on equity and access; development of 21st-century skills for students including innovation and creativity; high standards for those who would be teachers; emphasis on preschool; providing career pathways; and continuous community engagement.
Frank Tiano’s education includes a Doctor of Education in Leadership in Schooling from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (2006); a Master of Arts in Teaching from Simmons College (1990); and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Bentley College (1989).
Starting his career in education as an elementary classroom teacher, he has also served as an elementary assistant principal and principal, a middle school principal, an assistant superintendent of schools and superintendent of schools. In every position he has held, Dr. Tiano is known for fully committing himself to the students, families, and staff that he serves.
The recipient of several honors, he holds being chosen as 1 of 100 superintendents nationwide to attend the Superintendent’s Summit at the White House to sign the Future Ready Pledge with the President of the United States in 2014 as the one in which he is most proud. He accepted that honor on behalf of the entire town as the work was the culmination of a collaborative effort between the town and the schools to benefit every child in his district.