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MASA Leader Winter 2013

Courageous Journey Feature The Superintendent as Leader of Professional Development Beecher Community School District leaders look to book studies to learn together and transform the path to higher student achievement By Josha L. Talison, Ed.D. UAugust 2010, I quickly noticed that In this era of high-stakes S. Dweck (2006). I acted in the role of by Dr. CarolMindsetaddressed immediately, I assigned theteam’s first book,pon arriving to the BeecherCommunity School District in the district leadership team I inherited testing and unrelenting facilitator of these discussions, asking primarily focused on addressing day- accountability, one might open-ended questions to the team in to-day issues in order to ensure that the order to elicit conversations regarding district operated at an optimal level. wonder, “Who has time the topic of mindset and what it means to read a book?” Many as a leader to promote the right type In order for the school district to reach new zeniths, the concept of leadership of my administrators, of mindset in our organization. had to be approached with a new lens. A quietly of course, probably Next, the team read John Maxwell’s visionary approach to leadership would need to be embedded into the culture had the same thought. (2007). After finishing this work, weThe 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader of the district to ensure continuous went on to read several other books improvement. To begin this process of throughout the year. We continue this transformation, the leadership team In this era of high-stakes testing and practice to this day. The leadership would need to become immersed unrelenting accountability, one might team has approached these book studies in current/relevant best practice wonder, “Who has time to read a book?” as a professional growth opportunity organizational leadership models. Many of my administrators, quietly of and has begun to use the information course, probably had the same thought. discussed in the studies to improve Knowing that individuals need additional the overall operation of the district. training to increase their leadership However, as Richard DuFour has stated acumen and providing them with benefi- at various conferences and through As a result of the professional cial professional development experiences various texts, a person would never go development book sessions, several are two completely different things. If the to an ophthalmologist who conducts district initiatives have taken place: dollars were plentiful, I would have loved vision enhancement surgery with razor to send my leadership team to various blades alone when Lasik treatments are • A total overhaul of the district’s workshops or seminars around the state available that do the procedure more curricular framework has occurred or country to learn about the concept of effectively and efficiently. Thus, why with the implementation of the visionary/transformational leadership. should parents send their children to Science, Technology, Engineering schools where leaders are not staying and Math (S.T.E.M.) curriculum Since this was not the case, I decided abreast of best practices in educa- being used in grades K-5 and the to conduct professional development tion? With this frame of mind as my College Board Springboard math sessions with my leadership team to inspiration, I began to immerse my and language arts curriculum ensure they were exposed to effective leadership team in book study sessions. being taught in grades 6-12. leadership models. I chose to conduct • A 9th Grade Academy for book study activities at our twice-a- Knowing that culture in the district incoming high school students has month administrative staff meetings. was something that needed to be been created that focuses on “anytime, 26 MASA LEADER • January 2013


MASA Leader Winter 2013
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