Sylvia Pirtle
Project Director

Photo of Sylvia  Pirtle

Sylvia Segura Pirtle is a Project Director with SEDL's Education Systems Support program. Her work centers on a systemic approach to school improvement that advances professional learning, optimizes collaborative teaching, and prepares students for college and careers. Dr. Pirtle has broad experience in school improvement processes, school turnaround and transformation, and strengthening leaders’ capacity to lead change for quality teaching and learning and improved student outcomes. She assists districts and schools by providing technical assistance and professional development in the Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle; using data to make informed decisions; and implementing, monitoring, reviewing, and sustaining effective school improvement processes and practices.

Dr. Pirtle serves as the New Mexico Achievement Gap Alliance liaison for the Regional Education Laboratory Southwest. She focuses on facilitating alliance members’ work and research priorities to improve educational opportunities and student outcomes for Hispanic and Native American students so that they can realize and achieve their potential and successfully engage in a path to college and careers.

Contact Information
You may contact Sylvia Pirtle at 512-391-6545

or by using SEDL's contact form.

Areas of Expertise

Dr. Pirtle’s research interests include school turnaround and transformation, effective school improvement processes and practices, transforming educators’ practice for quality teaching and learning, and strengthening statewide systems of support.

  • Leadership for Transforming Underachieving Schools:
    Dr. Pirtle’s current work provides support for education leaders to advance effective and collaborative teaching and learning and to create a culture for improved student outcomes. Her work encompasses revealing and addressing obstacles to professional learning and student outcomes; coaching leaders in planning and implementing systems to achieve and sustain improvements; and using data to inform decision making and to measure progress.
  • Leadership for Quality Teaching and Learning:
    Dr. Pirtle provides schools with technical assistance, coaching, and recommendations for improving student outcomes. This technical assistance includes building the capacity of leaders to facilitate change in how schools, staff, and classrooms collaborate to increase student academic progress and developing strategies to sustain the improvement.
  • State Recognition, Accountability and Support:
    Dr. Pirtle also provides guidance to state education agencies in self-assessing statewide systems of support and plans for delivery of services to districts and schools in need of improvement.


Prior to joining SEDL in 2007, Dr. Pirtle served for 31 years in urban and Title I schools as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. She served as principal of a high-performance Title I school and was selected to lead a reconstituted school through a quick turnaround approach. In addition, Dr. Pirtle mentored leaders of schools in underserved communities, coaching principals in effective leadership practices to promote a collaborative working and learning environment for improved outcomes for all students.


Dr. Pirtle holds a Doctorate of Philosophy with a focus on school improvement. Her dissertation (2012), Examining the Lived Experiences of Principals Who Use Literacy as an Intentional School Improvement Effort, highlighted the experiences of successful principals of high-performance, high-poverty schools who used literacy development as an intentional strategy for school improvement while simultaneously improving other measures of school success. She also earned a MEd in curriculum and instruction (University of Texas at Austin) and a BS in elementary education and an administrative certification (Texas State University—formerly Southwest Texas State University—in San Marcos, Texas).

SEDL Publications

Selected Presentations
  • McCann, E., & Pirtle, S. S. (2008, June/July). Part 1: Program evaluation; Part 2: Implementing programs with fidelity. Presented at the Annual Conference of the Mississippi Association of Federal Education Program Directors, Biloxi, MS.
  • McCann, E., Pirtle, S. S., & Tobia, E. (2008, January). School support team: Mississippi dropout prevention program. Training for Mississippi School Support Team members and state staff, Jackson, MS.
  • Meibaum, D., & Pirtle, S. S. (2008, May). No Child Left Behind: An overview. Facilitated workshop for support staff, mentors, and Mississippi SDE staff. Jackson, MS.
  • Pirtle, S. S. (2006–2007). Mentored Title I school leaders of underperforming schools in best practices; data-driven decision making; development of school improvement plans and interventions; and monitoring and evaluating the implementation of plans.
  • Pirtle, S. S., Brown, D., Davis, M., McCann, E., Tennebaum, I., & Tobia, E. (2008, August–2009, September). Mississippi Department of Education statewide systems of support. Series of sessions presented to Mississippi SDE staff to support and plan for system improvement. Lead facilitator for process.
  • Pirtle, S. S., McCann, E., & Tobia, E. (2008, April). School support team: Mentoring instructional leaders. Training for Mississippi school support team members and SDE staff, Jackson, MS.
  • Pirtle, S. S., & Meibaum, D. (2008, July). Mentoring school leaders: Comprehensive needs assessment & data analysis. One in a series of trainings conducted for Mississippi school leadership mentors and SDE staff.
  • Schoenberger, J., Pirtle, S. S., Williams, H., & McCann, E. (2009, June–August). Alaska Department of Education & Early Development statewide systems of support. Series of sessions presented to Alaska SDE staff to support and plan for system improvement. Lead facilitator for process.

Convening and Facilitating

  • Pirtle, S. S., Arellano, B., Dodson, M., & Muoneke, A., (2013, April 5). Facilitated the orientation of alliance members to the REL Southwest and the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance
  • Pirtle, S. S., & Chapman, C. (2012, April–Sept.). Facilitated Mississippi’s state department staff in developing
  • Pirtle, S. S., & Davis, M., (2011, January–May). External evaluator for New Mexico School Improvement Grant (SIG) Priority Schools.
  • Pirtle, S. S., Davis, M., & Yanez, M. (2009, February–March). English language learner parent focus group. Focus groups of parents of English language learners about linguistic accommodations.
  • Pirtle, S. S., & McCann, E., (2011, September–2013, March). Facilitated Alabama and Mississippi state department staff in the use of Indistar online tools to document, monitor, review and assess progress of school improvement efforts.
  • Pirtle, S. S., & Howard-Brown, B. (2011, December–2013, February). Facilitated South Carolina’s evaluation of the state’s system of recognition, accountability, and support (statewide system of support).
  • Pirtle, S. S., Joyner, S., & Williams, H. (2009, January–February). English language learner focus group for rural and urban school administrators and staff. Focus groups of administrators and school staff about linguistic accommodations.