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College of Education and Allied Professions

Dr. Kathleen Topolka-Jorissen

Adjunct Professor of Educational Leadership
Director of the EdD Program in Educational Leadership

Kathleen Jorissen



Research Interests: The nexus of policies and practices that affect employee performance and organizational capacity for improvement


  • Ph.D., Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota
  • M.A., Secondary Education, University of Minnesota
  • B.S with Distinction, English., University of Minnesota.


Dr. Jorissen teaches and advises doctoral students in the Educational Leadership program and conducts research related to educational policy and capacity building. Prior to joining the WCU faculty in 2006, she spent 25 years as a school and district level administrator in Minnesota. She also taught in educational leadership programs at the University of Minnesota, Winona State University, and Bowling Green State University.

Dr. Jorissen's research and development work focuses on how to reduce professional isolation and promote collaborative processes that result in greater capacity to improve student achievement. She conducts research, publishes, and assists schools and districts in the areas of instructional leadership and supervision, professional learning communities, cognitive coaching, and employee evaluation systems.

Active in service and professional organizations, Dr. Jorissen currently serves as a member of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Expert work Group on Superintendent Standards and Licensure and Program Chair for the Research on Teacher Induction SIG for AERA.


Distinguished Alumni Award--University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development

Selected Publications and Presentations:

Topolka-Jorissen, K. & Wang, H. (2012). Doctoral Program Mix of Course Structures, Cohorts, and Delivery Systems. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the University Council for Educational Administration, Denver.

Allen, A. L. & Topolka-Jorissen, K. (2011). Teacher leadership continuum: How principals develop and support teacher leaders. In E. B. Hilty (Ed.), Teacher leadership: The new foundations of education (pp. 165-174). Peter Lang.

Buskey, F. C. & Jorissen, K. T. (2010). No more silos: A new vision for principal preparation. Educational Leadership Review, 11(2), 112-122.

Jorissen, K. T., Salazar, P., Morrison, H., & Foster, L. (2008). Instructional coaches: Lessons from the field. Principal Leadership, 9(2), 16-19.

Salazar, P. & Jorissen, K. T. (2007). The secondary principal: New roles-new preparation. NCPEA Education Leadership Review 8(2), 158-163.

Jorissen, K. T. (2006). Three skillful moves to assessment for the busy principal. Journal of Staff Development, 27(1), 22-30.

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