Tom Butler is an educator, author and keynote speaker. He is currently the Executive Director of Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, an education service agency headquartered in Altoona, PA. Previously, he was superintendent, high school principal, guidance counselor and history teacher. Tom works extensively with school systems to help them to become uncompromisingly learner centered. He conducts workshops, facilitates board retreats and coaches school leaders. Tom received his doctorate in Education Leadership with his dissertation winning a national award. Tom has written extensively about school leadership and rural school and community issues.

Tom has been a keynote speaker for national and state organizations while also presenting at national conferences. In 2018 Tom had two books published. Results By Design, about strategic planning, and Dewey: A Reflection on the Inevitable about the shifting education paradigm educators face today.


School Leadership: Learner-Centered Leadership in Times of Crisis. Tom Butler Ph.D. Publication date January 2021. Butler Leadership Consulting. Find it here on Amazon.

Results by Design: A Field Book for Planning. Duff Rearick Ed.D., Patrick Crawford Ed.D., Jay Scott Ed.D., Tom Butler Ph.D. Publication date March 2018.

Dewey: A Reflection on the Inevitable. Transforming 21st learning Through Experience and Education. Tom Butler Ph.D., Duff Rearick Ed.D. publication date May 2018 published by eGenCo.


Keynote, The National Mass Customized Learning Summit. July 2019. Title: Finding Your Own Innovation

Keynote, The National Mass Customized Learning Summit. July 2018. Title: Progress made on the New Learning Ecosystem.

American Association of Education Service Agencies (AESA) national conference, 2018. Breakout session speaker. Topic: Getting Better Together: building and incubating innovations in rural schools.

International Symposium for Innovation in Rural Education, international conference, 2018. Breakout session speaker. Topic: Building Leadership Capacity for Scaling Innovations in Rural School Districts.

Speaker, Juniata College Summer teacher workshop Science in Motion, 2018. topic, Learner-Centered vs. Adult Convenience or How Might We Reinvent Schooling?

College of William and Mary, 2018. Panelist: Role of Schools & Education in the Future of Rural Communities in the 21st Century

National Rural Education Association national conference, 2017. Breakout session speaker. Topic, Education for Settlement

Speaker, Center for Online Innovation in Learning, 2017. Topic, Learning in the 21st Century: The vaporization of organizations.

Featured Speaker 2016, Pennsylvania Department of Education Standard Aligned System Conference. State-wide conference on personalized learning. Topic: The role of growth mindset in transforming learning.

Board Retreats and Workshops

Facilitator, Leadership Action Academy, 2019. Waynesboro School District.

Facilitator, Leadership Action Academy, 2019. Hollidaysburg School District.

Susquehanna Township School District, 2018. Leadership training for the administrators of the school district. Topic: finding your personal maxims.

Wellsboro Area School District, 2017. Conducted a half day work shop. Topic: Mass Customized Learning, Transforming Learning for students.

Board Retreat: Everett Area School District, 2017. Facilitated a process leading to a creation of vision and mission statements centered on three areas of importance for the school district: Learning culture and community, Teaching and Learning, and Facilities.

Awards and Distinctions

Fellowship, Peabody Professional Institutes, Vanderbilt University, 2010

The American Educational Research Association’s Rural Education special  interest group dissertation award 2010 (Third place).   

Congressional Testimony, 2010, Washington D.C., 2010. Gave testimony in front of the House Education and Labor Committee as a turn-around school concerning reauthorization of NCLB and rural schools.                       


Harmon, H. L., & Butler, T. A. (2019). Getting better together: Innovations for rural learners and communities. Perspectives: A Journal of Research and Practice of Educational Service Agencies, Volume 25(1).

Thomas A. Butler (2014) School Leadership in the 21st Century: Leading in the Age of Reform, Peabody Journal of Education, 89:5, 593-602, DOI: 10.1080/0161956X.2014.956524.

Butler, T. (2013). Review of the book Rainbow pie: A redneck memoir, by J. Bageant, and Those who work, those who don’t: Poverty, morality, and family in rural America, by J. Sherman. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 28(5), 1-4.

The ethic of democracy in a secondary education setting in rural communities 2007. Paper presented at the 12th Annual Values and Leadership Conference, Penn State University.

Chapters in Books

Rural educational sustainability and the changing meaning of freedom 2009. Paper presented at the 14th Annual Values and Leadership Conference, Penn State University.

Edmondson, J., Butler, T (2011). Countering the Rhetorics of Neoliberal Literacies to Sustain Rural Life. in Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy. December 2011 Southern Illinois University Press.

Edmondson, J., Butler, T. (2010). Teaching school in rural America: Toward an educated hope. in book Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century: Identity, Place, and Community in a Globalizing World (Rural Studies) The Pennsylvania State University Press.

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