Dr.  Walter Polka

Dr. Walter Polka

Professor of Leadership and Policy

Office Location:
Academic Complex, Room 325F
Office Hours:
Contact for Appointment


Throughout his 45 years as an educator, Dr. Polka has held numerous professional positions, includinghigh school social studies teacher and advisor for various clubs and organizations as well as an interscholastic coach at Lewiston-Porter High School; Williamsville Central School District social studies/science curriculum coordinator K-12; assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and superintendent of schools of the Lewiston-Porter School District.

Since 1970, Dr. Polka has also served as an adjunct professor at various institutions of higher education including Brockport State College, Buffalo State College, Medaille College, Niagara County Community College, Niagara University, SUNY Buffalo and Loyola University in Maryland. Dr. Polka’s full-time university professional responsibilities also included associate professor of educational leadership; doctoral dissertation chair; and doctoral program coordinator in educational leadership at Georgia Southern University. He is currently the leadership and policy doctoral program coordinator and full tenured professor in the professional programs department at Niagara University.

Focus of Teaching

Dr. Polka continues to pursue his professional goals of improving his own teaching skills, modeling his creative strategies and continuing his advocacy for constructivist teaching and learning at all levels of the instructional spectrum. During his tenure-track experience at Niagara University (January, 2008-present) he has taught a total 46 graduate courses including 15 different courses including three advanced doctoral studies courses. Student evaluations of his teaching historically fall between the Very Good and Superior levels as illustrated in student course evaluations.                 

In addition, Dr. Polka has presented clinics, workshops, and speeches at various state, regional, national, and international conferences of numerous professional organizations including the American Association of School Administrators, American Educational Research Association, Association of Teacher Educators, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, International Conference on Technology and Education, International Society for Educational Planning, National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Professors of Educational Administration, National School Boards Association, National Staff Development Council and other educational associations and agencies. The topics of those presentations included administration, curriculum improvement and implementation, diversity issues, school law evolution and staff development recommendations. He has presented his research in 40 states and 24 countries.

Current Research

Current research relates to educational leadership and policy, specifically in the following areas: superintendent decision making and problem solving; curriculum and instructional improvement; school law evolution; professional development concepts and diversity issues.

Recent Publications

Books and Book Chapters:

Polka, W. & Kardash, J. (Chapter accepted for publication Fall/Winter 2012). Managing in           the effective change zone to implement a "1 to 1laptop" program in a rural school district: A case study of the Colton-Pierrepont experience. Contemporary      Perspectives on Technological Innovation, Management and Policy. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Heaggans, R. & Polka, W. (2012), The diversity merry-go-round: Planning and working in concert to establish a culture of acceptance and respect in the university. Reprinted in Gallavan, N. (Ed.). Multicultural education, 16th edition. (pp. 121-129). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Original article published in Educational Planning; 18(2), 22-34.

Polka, W., Denig, S., Litchka, P, Calzi, C., & Mete, R. (2011). Living on the horns of dilemma: A study of superintendent decision-making and problem-solving. In B. Alford et al. (Eds.) Blazing new trails: Preparing leaders for improving access and equity in today’s schools. The 2011 Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (pp. 93-108). Lancaster, PA: DEStech Publications.

Denig, S., Polka, W., Litchka, P., Calzi, F. & Brigano, M. (2011). Problem solving and decision making. In Dipaola, M., & Forsyth, P. (Eds.). Leading research in educational administration (pp. 147-159). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Polka, W. (2010). Facilitating instructional differentiation via teacher reflections about desired constructivist practices and current realities: A pragmatic research model. In E. Pultorak (Ed.), The purposes, practices, and professionalism of teacher reflectivity: Insights for 21st century teachers and students (pp. 163-188). New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publications.

Polka, W. (2009). Leadership in the effective change zone: A case study of the high-touch needs of educators implementing the Georgia performance standards. In C. Achilles, et. al. (Eds.), Remembering our mission: Making education and schools better for students (187-199). The 2009 Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. Lancaster, PA: DEStech Publications.

Polka, W., & Litchka, P. (2008). The dark side of educational leadership: Superintendents and the professional victim syndrome. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publications. 

Polka, W. & Litchka, P. (2007). Strategies for surviving the professional victim syndrome: Perspectives from superintendents on navigating the political waves of contemporary leadership. In L. LeMasters, & R. Papa, (Eds.), At the tipping point: Navigating the course for the preparation of educational administrators. (255-265). The 2007 Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. Lancaster, PA: Pro>Active Publications.

Mattai, P., Perry, R., & Polka, W. (1999). Can technology deliver on its promise of being the great equalizer? Some reflections of disadvantaged students in technology. In Quisenberry, N. & McIntyre, D. (Eds.), Educators Healing Racism (127-137). Reston, Va.: Association of Teacher Educators and Association for Childhood Education International.

 Refereed Journal Articles:

 Sheeran, T., Rinaldo, V., Blokhuis, J., Smith, R., Polka,W., & Valentin, S. (article accepted). Dispositional discipline in teacher preparation programs: Problems, pitfalls and practices. Journal of Teacher Education and Practice. Nacogodoches, TX: Texas Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

 Polka, W. (2012). Rethinking federal and state educational policies associated with the current standards movement: A collection of selected references to stimulate reflections and dialogues. Critical Issues in Teacher Education; 19(1), 98-111.

 Polka, W. & Litchka, P. (2010). Managing yourself and others for personal and organizational satisfaction and productivity: Critical components in contemporary leadership programs. Educational Leadership Review; 11(2), 100-110.

 Polka, W. (2010). The art and science of constructivist supervision: Transforming schools by applying needs-based research. Journal for the Practical Application of Constructivist Theory in Education; 5(1), 1-28.

 Polka, W. (2010). Zur Enwicklung von konstruktivistisch orientiertem        Fuhrungshandein (“The art and science of becoming a constructivist leader” - Translated into German). In Westermann, P., & Berntzen, D. (Hrsg.), Kooperation in Schule und Unterrich: Implementationsansätze und -perspektiven.  Münster, Deutschland: ZfL-Verlag. 137-145. http://dnb.ddb.de

 Litchka, P., Fenzel, M., & Polka, W. (2009). The stress process among school superintendents. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation; 4 (4), http://ijelp.expressacademic.org.

 Polka, W., Litchka, P., & Davis, S. (2008). Female superintendents and the professional victim syndrome: Preparing current and aspiring superintendents to cope and succeed. Journal of Women in Educational Administration; 6(4), 293-311.

 Polka, W. (2007).  Managing people, things and ideas in the ‘effective change zone’: A high-touch approach to educational leadership at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Educational Planning; 16(1), 12-17.

Reavis, C. & Polka, W. (2006). A tale of two districts: Planning for the professional development of school leaders to improve student achievement. Educational Planning; 15(2), 13- 24.

Educational Background

Post -             1989-98 Harvard University, Educational Programs

Doctorate        1993 Florida State University, Educational Administration

Ed.D.              1977 State University of New York at Buffalo, Curriculum Planning

S.E.A.              1974 Niagara University, Educational Administration

M.S.                1971 Niagara University, Educational Foundations

M.A.                1970 Niagara University, History

B.A.                1968 State University of New York at Buffalo, History

Current Professional Involvement

National Commission on Teacher Self-efficacy, Association of Teacher Educators (ATE.), Co-Chair of the ATE Summer Conference in Washington, D.C., August, 2013; President, International Phi Delta Kappa, Buffalo-Niagara Chapter 0047, 2008-2013; Member, International Society for Educational Planning (ISEP), Conference Chair, 2013 (Niagara Falls, NY.