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International Invitational
Education Awards

school awards

School Awards

Leadership and Research Awards

Leadership and Research Awards

Colorful Shapes

William Stafford Leadership Award

The highest award presented by the IAIE, the William Stafford Leadership Award was established in 2003 to recognize exceptional leadership and service within the Alliance. This is a biennial award, presented at the IAIE annual meeting on even-numbered years. The award is named in honor of the late Dr. William Stafford, former Professor of Counselor Education at Lehigh University and founding member of the Alliance.

Stafford provided exceptional leadership, was an essential contributor to the development of the Alliance and the invitational theory and practice. He was the second editor of the Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice. He directed the first Alliance Conference in 1982.

Nomination Letter Due: August 1 of the award year.

Nomination Criteria

Nominees for this award must have at least three (3) years of distinguished service to IAIE. This service may be illustrated through

  • A history of outstanding service in key IAIE leadership roles such as leadership on committees, editorial boards, IAIE Coordinators and other essential IAIE activities.

  • Significant contributions to the development of invitational theory and practice in authoring published works, giving conference presentations, and other forms.

  • Authorship of articles, books, media and other publications that enrich and extend the understanding of invitational theory and practice.

  • Other contributions to the Alliance not specifically mentioned above that clearly reflect the spirit and nature of Invitational Education.

For questions or to submit a nomination, contact Clio Chan at:

Colorful Shapes

Research Awards

These awards are given annually to promote the scholarly study of the theory and practice of Invitational Education and to broaden and deepen support research.

Applications are open to anyone who has completed research in the field of education since June 30, 2013.

The recipient does not need to be present at the conference to receive the award.

The research can be for a dissertation  or the research can be done independently.

Application Due: August 1.


Award Criteria

  • Research will be based on the theory and practice of Invitational Education.

  • Research shall contribute to the field of  Invitational Education.

  • The study will be of exemplary quality.

  • Nominees are members of IAIE.

To learn more about the Invitational Education Research Award and application process, contact:

Dr. Jenny Edwards at


award winners

Past Leadership and
Research Award Winners

Stafford Leadership Award Winners

2018 Award Recipients - Georgetown, KY
Angela Miller
Dr. Vickie Wilson
Ed Nelson

2016 Award Recipients - Lexington, KY
Kathy Fields
Joan Fretz

2014 Award Recipients - Nashville, TN
Charles English
Ed Gwazdauskas
Allyson Schoenlein

2012 Award Recipients - Hong Kong, China
Richard Benjamin
Barbara Hansen
Ken Smith

2010 Award Recipients - Columbus, OH
Stephen Chu
Eddie Collins
Ken Wright

2008 Award Recipients - Georgetown, KY
Jim Mahoney
John Piper
Charlotte Reed

2006 Award Recipients - Asheville, NC
Dallas Blankenship
Clio Chan
Tommie Radd

2004 Award Recipients - Atlanta, GA
Kate Asbill
Mable Morrison
Jack Schmidt

2003 Award Recipients - Cloudcroft, NM
Sue Bowen
Dave Chapman
John Novak
William Purkey
Phil Riner
Dan Shaw
Betty Siegel
Harvey Smith
Mary Lynn Smith
Paula Stanley
Peter Wong

Stafford Leadership Award Winners


Dissertation Award - 2018 Teachers’ Perspectives of the Priciples' Invitiational Leadership Behaviors, Teachr Job Satisfaction and Principle Effectiveness in High-Poverty Rural Elementary Schools. By Matthew Christopher Zadin Younis A dissertation submitted to the faculty of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Charlotte, 2017.

Dissertation Award - 2017 Cultural Care And Inviting Practices: Creating Positive Learning Environments and Teacher-Student Relationships Based on Care, Equity, and Efficacy In An Urban Elementary By Eva J. Allen, Ed.D. This dissertation in practice investigates teacher perceptions of the influence of cultural care and invitational education (IE) on the formation of a positive teacher-student relationship with students of color in an urban elementary school. Cultural care is a theory of practice that utilizes a social-emotional approach for school improvement and to promote positive student outcomes. It is defined as a verbal or nonverbal gesture that displays a genuine interest in another person’s social, emotional, mental, and physical well-being; simultaneously recognizing and acknowledging race and culture as a vital part of a person’s identity. Cultural care must include respecting, valuing, and embracing culture from a value- and strengths-based perspective. Conducted through qualitative participatory action research, this study examined teacher practices and perceptions in order to evaluate the influence of cultural care. The study utilizes elements of the theoretical frameworks of IE, culturally relevant pedagogy, and critical race theory. The findings were derived from analyses of pre- and post-intervention implementation, recorded observations and notes, and artifacts that were generated as a result of participation in a professional learning community that was focused on equity and care. Findings indicated the importance of teachers listening to students with intentionality; recognizing students’ basic and academic needs; and acknowledging students’ presence, behavior, and growth, including making gestures of concern. Also, emergent in the findings was the significance of educators developing self-reflection and self-awareness as a part of practice, sharing personal experiences and stories, and engaging students in nonacademic conversations to facilitate positive relationships with them. One unexpected outcome concerned student-initiated conversations on race. The participant educators reported that students were comfortable in talking and asking questions about race-related topics that are often difficult to discuss. Recommendations for practice and future research were given.

Dissertation Award - 2015 Inviting Leadership From A Belfast Bedroom: Invitational Leadership In Contempoary Schools. By: Dr. Brendon Byrne Browne, PhD Dr. Browne’s dissertation used a unique methodological approach called autoethnography. In it he blended his own story of using Invitational Education as a young and unsure principal in a school in Southern Ontario, Canada, with the story of a counterpart who applied Invitational Education in a sectarian housing estate in East Belfast, Ireland. Some of the interviews of were conducted as this man lay dying in his Belfast bedroom. The result is a compelling story of the kind of reflective practice that characterizes invitational leadership. University or School Affiliation: Superintendent of Education, Special Education Services, Halton Catholic District School Board, Burlington, Ontario, Canada Awarding Institution: Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada

Dissertation Award - 2015 School Board Governance In Urban Low Socio-Economic Setting: A Case Study Of Public Primary Schools In Kibera Kenya. By: Tom Mboya Okaya Kenya hosts the largest informal settlement in sub-Saharan Africa, known as the Kibera slum. Most children living there have no access to proper housing, safe water, or sanitation. Hunger, malnutrition, poor health and frequent sicknesses keep them from attaining their full potential. A common assumption has been that the climate of public primary schools located within this setting would be disinviting, leading to poor performance. Paradoxically, some schools in Kibera have performed much better than schools in well-off settings. Dr. Okaya’s dissertation study was motivated by this paradox. He focused on the impact of public primary school boards in challenging settings, as these boards are legally responsible for the overall management of schools in their local communities. This study used Invitational Education Theory and Practice (IETP) as a framework to assess how inviting a public primary school is, specifically related to school climate, parental involvement and academic achievement. Dr. Okaya’s research, conducted during political unrest and insurgent attacks, supported his recommendation that school boards should use Invitational Education as a measure to inform their approaches to improving education. University or School Affiliation: Australian Catholic University, Victoria, AU

Independent Research Award - 2015 The Development And VAlidation Of The Invitational Online Teaching Assesment (OATA) The question, “What are the conditions under which students can learn?” is foundational to Invitational Education. Students must feel invited into the classroom. In traditional face-to-face classroom, teachers use many non-verbal clues to convey invitations to students. However, online instructors are limited to mainly written communication. How the instructor communicates and treats students can create conditions in which online students can and will learn. This research modified Amos’s (1985) Invitational Teaching Survey to address the online teaching environment. The resulting IOTA provides one tool for online instructors to use to evaluate their inviting teaching behaviors and make changes as needed. The IOTA instrument is web-based and designed to be administered to students. It automatically scores the results and sends a report to the instructor via e-mail. Located at, the website also includes a general overview of Invitational Education and a User Manual for the IOTA. University or School Affiliation: Kaplan University, Montgomery, AL

Dissertation Award - 2014 An Investigation Into The Percieved Effectivness Of Educational Leader Through The Use Of The Invitational Style Of Leadership In Maltese Secondary Schools. By Astrid Joanna Tonna This dissertation investigated the perceived effectiveness of educational leaders through the use of the invitational leadership style in their organization. For the purpose of the investigation, research carried out by Burns (2007) in her doctoral thesis, Invitational Leadership in Public Schools, was reviewed and replicated in Maltese secondary schools. A multiple case study approach supported by a mixed methods paradigm was employed in this study. University or School Affiliation: Head of Department Social Studies within the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education, Ministry of Education and Employment, Malta Awarding Institution: University of Leicester, UK for a Master of Science Degree in Educational Leadership

Outsatnding Reserach Award - 2011 The Development Of The Inviting School Survey-Revised (ISS-R) By: Kenneth H. Smith, PhD. The ISS-R is a product of the Invitational Theory and Practice to determine which specific parts of schools affect the total gestalt of schools. Originally, the ISS was a 100-item, Likert scale and hand-scored instrument that was utilized by few schools before a detailed psychometric study of the original 100-item ISS, was undertaken by Dr. Smith. One of the aims of the study was to determine whether the 100-item instrument could be shortened without compromising its psychometric properties. The results of this study recommended a shorter 50-item version of the ISS, the Inviting School Survey-Revised (ISS-R). Since its inception, the ISS-R has been used by schools to assess their culture as perceived by the major stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

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