Anthony Hamlet

CEO of Schools for CSI Solutions

Dr. Anthony Hamlet, an educator for nearly three decades, is the CEO and Superintendent of Schools for CSI Solutions, Inc., an educational consultancy and leadership development firm based in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The company draws its name from what Dr. Hamlet believes are the three pillars of education – culture, systems and instruction. And the idea behind CSI, he said, is to collaborate with all stakeholders on “understanding what our current state is” and then mapping out an action plan.

“And again, it goes to the culture – making sure you have inclusiveness and buy-in because you want to help pave the way for change,” he said. “And just managing change. That is not a top-down approach. It’s a bottom-up approach, with support from the leadership.”

Before launching CSI, he was the superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools for five years. During that time, the district, which serves some 25,000 students in 54 schools, saw test scores and graduation rates increase, while out-of-school suspensions decreased. On his watch, Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions (PBIS) tools were put in place throughout the district.

In addition, a Career and Technical Education Early Childhood Program was introduced at Pittsburgh Milliones, a magnet school, and a $75,000 Google grant was used to make technological improvements to the STEM program at Pittsburgh Obama, an International Baccalaureate World School.

“All our decisions in public education should be around students, what’s best for students,” he told the Pittsburgh Courier late in his tenure, “and supporting the faculty and staff and getting the requisite skills and resources that they need to make it happen for the children in the classroom.”

Before going to Pittsburgh, Hamlet, a native of Delray Beach, Fla., served as Director of School Accountability for the School District of Palm Beach County. He held various other administrative posts in his home state prior to that, including principal and senior administrator at the Life Skills Center in Delray Beach and the principal at Turning Points Academy, John F. Kennedy Middle School and Palm Beach Lakes High School, all in West Palm Beach.

“My track record,” he said, “has been one of transformation at every post I’ve had thus far.”

A graduate of Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, he earned a football scholarship to the University of Miami. He played defensive end there and was part of a Hurricanes program that won three national championships in his five years on campus. He also earned his degree in general studies.

Drafted in the 10th round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, he spent parts of two seasons in pro football – one with the Seahawks, one with the Indianapolis Colts – and also spent time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL before a knee injury ended his career.

He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

I’m doing a lot of content writing. I’m in the process of doing outlines for a couple of books I’m going to write right now. One is going to be about leadership and another one is going to be about the transformational tenets of school or district turnaround. That’s going to start off as a book but it’s probably going to spin off to about 10 books based on the chapters that are in the book so we can go in-depth and provide some tips, tools, resources, and experiences. I’m doing consulting as well, with a few ed tech companies and a few school districts. Also, I’m prepping for the university courses that I’m teaching as well, in the graduate schools at Nova Southeastern University and American Intercontinental University.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring them to life by setting a vision, but also by creating buy-in and avenues for faculty, staff, students, parents and the community to come in and have collective conversations about where we are – level setting, creating vision and understanding what our current state is in what we’re dealing with. What does that future state or desired state look like? And we begin to plan that out and put action plans into place based on where we want to be in the years ahead. That goes to our strategic plan – really putting some systems in place. And again, it goes to the culture – making sure you have inclusiveness and buy-in because you want to help pave the way for change. And just managing change. That is not a top-down approach. It’s a bottom-up approach, with support from the leadership.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One exciting trend in public school education is the integration of educational technology in the classroom. Schools are increasingly using digital tools like interactive whiteboards, tablets, and learning management systems to make the learning experience more interactive, engaging, and personalized. Technology also enables students to access learning materials and collaborate with classmates beyond the classroom walls.

Another trend is personalized learning, which is an approach that tailors instruction to the individual needs and interests of each student. This approach recognizes that students have different learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds, and allows them to learn at their own pace and in their own way. Personalized learning can take many forms, from differentiated instruction to adaptive learning software, to competency-based education.

Project-based learning is another trend that is gaining traction in many schools. This approach focuses on experiential learning by giving students real-world problems or challenges to solve. By working collaboratively and creatively, students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills that are valuable for success in the 21st century.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Always thinking about the current state but also thinking about where we’re going and our plans and thinking about the desired state. And what we are doing on a day-to-day basis on an hour-to-hour basis within that day to make sure we support the plan and the plan is moving forward.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stick to your dreams, be positive, be impactful and do things every day that will help you reach your goals.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

Everyone screams that they want change, but nobody wants to change themselves.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Embrace continuous improvement. Get better at getting better. Understand the concept of failing forward. If you don’t fail, that means you haven’t tried anything or done anything. And in failing, make sure you learn from it. One of the things I always like to say is LFI: Learn from it.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

The biggest strategy is helping me grow my brand based on my track record of change in this industry. People seldom talk about their data and what they’ve actually done. For me, I like to talk about my data, meaning what we’ve done for children because ultimately, we look at the performance outcomes for kids, such as decreasing out-of-school suspensions and increasing graduation rates. So I always go back to that because that’s what we should be focusing on in education.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

One common failure that many burgeoning entrepreneurs experience is the inability to secure funding for their businesses. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as a lack of business experience, a weak business plan, or limited access to capital. To overcome this, successful entrepreneurs often seek feedback and advice from mentors or advisors to refine their business plan and pitch. They may also explore alternative sources of funding, such as crowdfunding, angel investors, or venture capital firms. Persistence, adaptability, and willingness to learn from mistakes are essential qualities for overcoming funding obstacles.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One idea for a new education consulting service could be to focus on helping schools and educational institutions implement a culture of continuous improvement. This could involve providing guidance on change management, leadership, and systems change to create a culture where educators are constantly seeking to improve their practices and the outcomes for their students.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

ChatGPT is an AI language model that can be a valuable tool for companies looking to increase productivity in various ways. Companies can use ChatGPT in multiple ways to automate and streamline various processes.

One of the primary ways in which companies can use ChatGPT is for content creation. Companies can input a few keywords or prompts, and ChatGPT can generate high-quality content for their blogs, social media, and other marketing channels. This feature can save time and resources for companies and increase their content production.

ChatGPT can also assist companies in decision-making processes by providing real-time analysis of data, trends, and other factors. Companies can input large datasets, and ChatGPT can provide insights and recommendations that can help executives make informed decisions.

Overall, ChatGPT is a versatile tool that can be used in many different ways to help companies increase productivity and streamline various processes. With its advanced natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can automate tasks and simplify workflows, freeing up human resources for more critical tasks.

Another software tool that can help companies be more productive is Trello, a cloud-based project management platform that enables teams to collaborate and organize their tasks and projects. Trello is easy to use and allows you to create boards for different projects, cards for individual tasks, and lists for different stages of completion. You can assign tasks to team members, set due dates, and attach files or comments to keep everyone on the same page. Trello also integrates with other popular tools like Google Drive, Slack, and Dropbox, making it a versatile and valuable tool for improving team productivity.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

It was more than $100, but it is the amount I invested in participating in some board governors’ training at the Council of Great City Schools.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

One book that I recommend our community should read is “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. This book explores the science of how habits are formed and how we can change them to improve our lives. Duhigg explains the neurological and psychological mechanisms behind habit formation and shows how habits influence everything from our health and productivity to our relationships and happiness. The book also provides practical tips and case studies on how to cultivate positive habits and break negative ones. By understanding how habits work, we can become more intentional and purposeful in shaping our own behavior and achieving our goals.

Key learnings:

  • Culture, systems and instruction all come into play in maximizing students’ educational experience.
  • Ideation is a collaborative exercise, one that involves not top-down leadership, but a bottom-up approach, with the support of leadership.
  • It’s important to focus on not only where you are, but where you want to be – to make progress every day toward your goals.
  • Continuous improvement is a worthwhile ambition. Your aim should be to always get better at getting better.
  • Metrics matter in education, especially those that measure such things as graduation rates and suspension rates.