Remembering Richard DuFour, Leading Voice on Professional Learning Communities


We were saddened to learn of the death February 8th of Richard P. DuFour, influential educator, thought leader, and writer, who was the leading voice on using professional learning communities to drive teacher and student learning in schools.

As principal of Adlai Stevenson High School and later superintendent of the Adlai Stevenson High School District in the 1980s, DuFour used the PLC process to dramatically raise student achievement, leading Stevenson High School to win many national awards. He drew on this experience to develop his Professional Learning Communities at Work model. As an author (eight books and many articles), presenter, and consultant, he (with his wife, Rebecca DuFour) went on to inform and inspire many other educators about using PLCs to energize teaching and turn schools around. DuFour helped hundreds of schools successfully implement their own professional learning communities.

DuFour was a frequent contributor to ASCD’s Educational Leadership, publishing groundbreaking articles with us on the core principles of PLCs, redefining teacher learning, using student data in collaborative teams, and improving instructional leadership (among other topics).

Most recently, in our May 2016 issue, we interviewed DuFour about his 2015 book In Praise of American Educators, in which he argued U.S. teachers are accomplishing great things yet being scapegoated for problems in education. In that interview, he reflected on his career in education:

I couldn’t imagine any other profession that would have been more satisfying for me. This was what I was born to do. I look at other professions and wonder, How could you be excited about that every day or passionate about that? So I feel that it’s been my life’s work, and I look at it with a sense of satisfaction and peace.

We will miss Richard DuFour’s example, vision, and  voice.

By Naomi Thiers, Senior Associate Editor, Educational Leadership