James Nehring

James H. Nehring, Ed.D.

Professor, Leadership in Schooling

Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Education
Coburn Hall 270C


Teaching and educational leadership

Research Interests

Collaborative inquiry, professional learning, organizational learning.


  • Ed.D: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Mass. (2003)
  • M.A.T.: Brown University - Providence, RI (1982)
  • BA: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. (1980)


James Nehring’s scholarship is governed by a deep respect for the complex nature of teaching, learning, schools, and school systems. His work has identified and advanced approaches to teaching and leadership that acknowledge this inherent complexity while exposing and redirecting approaches that are reductive and potentially harmful. For 25 years, Nehring was a teacher and school leader at the secondary level. He led the startup of three progressive, public schools and is the author of seven books and many articles about school reform. He has been published in Phi Delta Kappan, The Journal of Educational Change, NASSP Bulletin, Professional Development in Education, The Journal of Thought, Education Week, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. In 2006 he joined the faculty of the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell as an assistant professor. At UML, he is a founding faculty member of the Peace and Conflict Studies program. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Award for Research in the United Kingdom and a Brown University alumni award “for distinguished contributions to teachers and to teacher education”. In 2019, he was awarded the Manning Prize for excellence in teaching. He served as Acting Faculty Chair of the College of Education in 2017 and Permanent Faculty Chair from 2019-2022.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2019)
  • Fulbright Award, United Kingdom, (2013-2014)
  • Brown University Alumni Distinction (1998)

Selected Publications

  • Nehring, J., Szczesiul, S., and Charner-Laird, M. (2019). Bridging the progressive-traditional divide in education reform: A unifying vision for teaching, learning, and system-level supports. New York: Routledge Press.
  • Nehring, J. (2015). Why teach?: Notes and questions from a life in education. New York and Bethesda: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Nehring, J. (2009). The practice of school reform: Lessons from two centuries. SUNY Press.
  • Nehring, J. (2002). Upstart startup: Creating and sustaining a public charter school. New York: Teachers College Press. 2002.
  • Nehring, J. (1998). The school within us: The creation of an innovative public school. Albany: SUNY Press, 1998.
  • Nehring, J. (1992). The schools we have, the schools we want: An American teacher on the front line, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Nehring, J. (1989). Why do we gotta do this stuff, Mr. Nehring: Notes from a teacher’s day in school. New York: M. Evans and Company. Paperback reprint (1990) issued by Fawcett Columbine, a division of Random House.
Selected articles:
  • Nehring, J. (2020). It matters how you manage diversity: cultural difference in Northern Ireland’s Secondary Schools. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 41(6), 547-560.
  • Nehring, J., Charner-Laird, M. and Szczesiul, S. (2019). Redefining excellence: Teaching in transition, from test performance to 21st century skills. NASSP Bulletin, 103(1), 5-31
  • Nehring, J., Charner-Laird, M. and Szczesiul, S. (2017). What real high performance looks like. Phi Delta Kappan, 98 (7), 38-42.
  • Nehring, J. & Szczesiul, S. (2015). Redefining high performance in Northern Ireland: Deeper learning and 21st century skills meet high stakes accountability Journal of Educational Change,16 (3), 327-348.