Professor, Niagara University
Walter Polka, EdD, is a professor of professional programs and the PhD program coordinator at Niagara University. Polka has held several professional leadership positions during his 45 years as an educator, including: high school social studies teacher, curriculum planner and interscholastic coach at Lewiston-Porter High School (1968–1973); Williamsville Central School District social studies and science curriculum coordinator K–12 (1973–1986); assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction (1986–1990); and superintendent of schools of the Lewiston-Porter School District (1990–2003). His curriculum leadership at Williamsville and Lewiston-Porter resulted in exemplary programs for students and faculty. Lewiston-Porter High School has been identified by the national media as one of the top 100 high schools in the U.S. as a result of the open-access Advanced Placement program he instituted.
In addition to his public school teaching and administration experiences, Polka has taught graduate and undergraduate courses since 1970 as an adjunct professor at several Western New York institutions of higher education, including: Buffalo State College, Medaille College, Niagara University and the University at Buffalo.
After retiring from New York state public education, Polka was appointed as an associate professor of educational administration and the doctoral program coordinator at Georgia Southern University (2003–2008). He was the major advisor for 25 doctoral candidates who successfully completed their doctoral degrees under his guidance. Polka returned to Niagara University in January 2008 to teach and facilitate the development of a new PhD program in leadership and policy studies. He also teaches administrative preparation summer courses at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD.
Polka has authored over two dozen peer-reviewed research articles and eight book chapters. He has presented his research about leadership, curriculum development, diversity and technology in 40 states and 24 countries, and his curriculum research work has been published internationally. His co-authored 2008 book, The Dark Side of Educational Leadership: Superintendents and the Professional Victim Syndrome, continues to be used as a key reference for current and aspiring superintendents throughout the U.S.