Tall Poppy

What is a leader? What are the characteristics of leadership that will best serve a specific organization at a given point in time? What skills do leaders need in their work? How do principals distribute leadership to utilize teacher leaders? What is the nexus of teacher leadership and principal leadership? These are the critical questions that underlie the work of Tall Poppy.

Tall Poppy is an organization focused on three critical functions:

  • Leadership development with a specific focus on teacher leadership and principal leadership;
  • Equity and bias awareness training;
  • Standards revision and development.

Leadership development: We focus on development of education leaders – teacher leaders, building leaders, district leaders – and systems of distributed leadership in which individual leaders can build leadership teams. With proven experience in designing and delivering professional learning, founder(s) Katherine Bassett and Peggy Stewart work with teams of educators to explore and define leadership for specific schools and districts.

Equity and bias awareness training: A key leadership role is to build collaborative communities in which the needs of all members are served. This is especially true in education, where most of our community consists of students. Using leadership skills to drive bias awareness and to advance equity is critical. We help educators understand how to recognize biases in themselves and help others to do the same; and to identify opportunity gaps and address them.

Standards revision and development: With rich experience in standards development, we facilitate groups of stakeholders to reexamine or create standards to drive practice. Using Evidence Centered Design methodology, we guide teams in understanding the content that will form the foundation for standards; the population that will utilize the standards; and to identify the critical elements that tell us that practitioners understand and can utilize content effectively.

Services Offered:

  • Professional learning design;
  • Design and facilitate professional learning;
  • Development of equity tools;
  • Standards design or revision.

Why the name Tall Poppy?

Tall Poppies have been defined, particularly in research conducted in Australia and New Zealand, as those individuals who have been identified as standing out above their peers. This is also often referred to as the ‘prophet in your own land syndrome”. If you envision a field of poppies, they are typically uniform in size; the poppies that grow tall are hacked off by the wind. Educators recognized as excelling or singled out for leadership roles often encounter hostility from peers within their own school or district, while being recognized for their expertise outside of their home base. At Tall Poppy, we work to help educators gain skills to mitigate this syndrome and to assist systems initiate leadership structures that are transparent. For more on the Tall Poppy syndrome, you can visit many sites, but this one offers a particularly succinct description: https://odinmp.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/the-concept-of-the-tall-poppy-syndrome/

Our Staff

Katherine is the CEO of Tall Poppy, a company devoted to the training of education leaders and standards revision/development; and of Research and Assessment Design Solutions, an organization focused on solutions to assess social and emotional skills. She is the former President and CEO of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.

She served as Director of Policy and Partnerships for the Center for Educator Effectiveness at Pearson, working to support research into educator practice and self-efficacy, and to building partnerships with like-minded organizations to support education.

Formerly at ETS, Katherine led the development of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certificates for Library Media and Literacy, co-developed the Take One! program booklet, led the development of performance-based assessments across the continuum of professional educator practice in four states and worked with six states to develop a common continuum of practice. She led strategic bidding across the US resulting in multiple state assessment awards for performance-based assessments.

In addition, she has facilitated the work of a consortium to develop the Teacher Leader Model Standards and served on the committees that revised the InTASC standards and defined learning progressions for those standards. She co-facilitated the development of the Model Code of Educator Ethics and has led the development of the Teacher Leadership Initiative competencies and Capstone project for the NEA, NBPTS, and CTQ.

Katherine’s research and policy work has focused on teacher leadership, professional career continua in education, engagement of educators in the policy process, and equity issues. She has envisioned and overseen numerous research and policy studies which can be found on the Publications page of this Web site.

Designing and facilitating professional learning, particularly around leadership and acquisition of expertise, are hallmarks of Katherine’s practice and she is a talented motivational speaker.

Bassett spent 26 years in the classroom as a middle school librarian and served as New Jersey’s 2000 State Teacher of the Year.

Peggy Stewart is the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) of Tall Poppy. The 2005 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, a Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher, and a National Board Certified Teacher, Stewart also currently serves as the Director of Professional Learning and Teacher Leadership Consultant for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, and is a learning consultant for FEA (Foundation for Educational Administration, which is the Professional Learning Division of NJPSA.

Stewart has extensive experience in designing and facilitating professional learning.  She served as Chair of the New Jersey Professional Teaching Standards Board and is currently on the Board of Trustees for Learning Forward New Jersey.

Stewart was a high school social studies teacher specializing in Global Education.  Highlights of her teaching career include bringing students to China, Pakistan, and several countries in Europe.


Next Engagement: NJ County Teachers, September 29-30, 2018
NASDTEC Annual Conference, June 12, 2018

Presentation: License Renewal Issues and PD Requirements: Making Renewal More Meaningful

Mount Holyoke Master’s Program in Teacher Leadership, May 31, 2018

Presentation: Teacher Leadership: From Possibilities to Practice

Illinois Powered by Teach to Lead, April 19-20, 2018

Teacher Leadership: From Possibilities to Practice

Teacher Leadership: Shifting From Great Teacher to Teacher Leader

Selling Your Message

Delta Kappa Gamma, Lambda Chapter, April 21, 2018

Keynote Address: Gender Bias in the Workplace: We’ve Come a Long Way Baby, But We Have a Long Way to Go

The Connecticut Council of Teachers of the Year Empowered To Lead Conference, April 26, 2018

Presentation: Now What Do I Do? The Model Code of Ethics for Educators

AERA, April 15, 2018

Presentation: From Policy to Practice: Investigating Teacher Leadership as a Lever of Educational Change, panel presentation

New Jersey County Teachers of the Year Annual Leadership Conference, September 25, 2018

Katherine will be presenting on moving from great teacher to teacher leader.

Center for Advancing Opportunity, September 12, 2018

Katherine was part of a panel discussion on Teachers Matter.

Correctional Education Association, presentation on Social and Emotional Learning assessment, August 28, 2018
David Taylor Design NJ Website Design Company