The Way to Inclusion: How Leaders Create Schools Where Every Student Belongs, by inclusion experts Dr. Julie Causton, Dr. Kate MacLeod, Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak, Dr. Jenna Mancini Rufo, and Dr. Paul Gordon, is an an essential and invaluable guide to the important and courageous work of creating an inclusive school system.  

The Way to Inclusion is filled with research, practical resources and tools, and advice from leaders. This book will take you step-by-step through the inclusive change process— from crafting your inclusive vision to reimagining the roles of existing staff and everything in between. The book outlines seven defined milestones in an Inclusive System Change Path, including key leadership questions, action steps, and skills to help you develop the inclusive school system that you desire and your students deserve.


The Way provides a powerful intersection of values-driven leadership, visioning for equity, strategic support and learning, data-driven decision making, and, most important, understanding and believing in the strengths and possibilities of both your staff and your students.


Heather Greicius, Executive Director of Special Populations, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Colorado

The Way to Inclusion provides a practical, adaptable, and inclusive approach to creating more inclusive schools... a must-read for anyone learning about, leading, or participating in inclusive systems change.

Jaylee Swanson, Director of Special Education, East Moline School District, Illinois

The pages should be read, highlighted, dog-eared, and riddled with handwritten comments in the margins as leaders roll up their sleeves and apply what is written to change hearts and minds and create equitable, inclusive systems for every student.

Jennifer Sommerness, EdS, TIES Center, University of Minnesota

This is a book that every leader should read... it offers leaders a path to success with powerful strategies to develop vision, reimagine school structures, and promote effective collaboration among educators.

Marcia Blum, Preschool Special Education Specialist, Exceptional Student Services, Colorado Department of Education

Meet the Authors

Dr. Julie Causton

Dr. Julie Causton is a bestselling author, inspiring speaker, and inclusive education advocate. The founder and CEO of Inclusive Schooling, she is a former tenured professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University, where she headed the Inclusive Elementary Education Program.

Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak

Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak is a highly sought-after speaker and accomplished author. With nearly three decades of educational experience, including 16 years as faculty at Kent State University, Kristie cultivates real change within educational systems, creating inclusive educational practices and empowering teachers and leaders to spread wellness within and beyond the classroom walls.

Dr. Kate MacLeod

Dr. Kate MacLeod is an innovative inclusive educator, researcher, and author. She began her career as a high school special education teacher in New York City and now works as faculty in the college of education at the University of Maine Farmington and as an education consultant with Inclusive Schooling. She has spent 15 years studying inclusive practices and supporting school leaders and educators to feel prepared and inspired to include all learners.

Dr. Paul Gordon

Dr. Paul Gordon has spent much of his education career working for the Adams 12 Five Star School District outside Denver, Colorado, where he served as a classroom teacher, a middle school principal, the director of professional development, and the chief academic officer. During the last 10 years, Paul has served as the superintendent of three school districts.

Dr. Jenna Mancini Rufo

Dr. Jenna Mancini Rufo is an experienced public-school leader turned inclusive education consultant. She is the founder and owner of empowerED School Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in equity and inclusion. Having served as an assistant superintendent, director of special education, state policy specialist, special education teacher, and inclusion facilitator, Jenna has practical experience in leading systems change for inclusion.


  • Craft a powerful inclusive vision statement for your system.
  • Conduct an equity review of your system with a focus on special education.
  • Create and analyze your service-delivery maps, including before-and-after examples from systems that have successfully implemented inclusive change.
  • Implement best practices for providing staff with professional development and ongoing support during inclusive change. 
  • Access downloadable forms and templates to help you move forward with implementation such as an Action Plan, Equity Review Data Collection Guide, Classroom Observation and Staff Survey tools, and more!


The research is clear: students with disabilities do better academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally, and experience better post-secondary outcomes when educated in inclusive settings. 


The Way is a much-needed call to action. It is an engaging, accessible book that provides a systematic, practical path to help educators build inclusive schools, overcome obstacles, and reach the results that the law, research, and conscience demand for all learners.

Patrick G. Radel, Esq., attorney, advocate, and parent

The Way to Inclusion is a comprehensive and practical guide for leadership teams working toward systems-level inclusive change. This book provides research to address the why of inclusion alongside steps and strategies that explain how.

Danielle Nahorney, Director of Academic Services and Accountability, Baldwinsville Central School District, New York

This book provides the knowledge and tools needed to develop and implement an inclusive plan while sharing guidance to avoid common missteps. It's a must-read roadmap for current and future educators, leaders, and change makers.

Dr. Joyce A. Carr, Supervisor of Special Education, upstate New York

This is a brilliant tool for all school leaders who want to improve service delivery for all students who have been historically marginalized in our schools while simultaneously meeting the standard of IDEA. The authors have constructed a roadmap with milestones to guide schools and districts toward providing a liberated education for all of their stakeholders

Deborah Hoffman, PhD, Associate Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District, Wisconsin

The Way provides a clear and thoughtful roadmap for districts who want to create an inclusive system that emphasizes belonging, collaboration and a deeper understanding of WHY working, learning, and being together yields greater results.

John S.Jones, Director of Special Services, RSU9, ME


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