I have to admit that when I was a freshman school board member in 2007, my focus was, “What can our local school syfstem do to better prepare our students for a career with the multinational company I worked for.”
As a human resources hiring manager for the company, I knew firsthand that we were struggling to acquire entry-level employees with the skills and ability to navigate the systems of an industrial environment.
Once I got a bit more experience as a board member, my focus expanded to a much broader view, and I became fascinated and overwhelmed with the “body of work” that school board members are accountable for – though, of course, that initial focus still is a big part of the work.
I feel certain there are many others who have had similar experiences, so I understand why “Educating the public on the role of a school board member” was the top vote-getter when attendees at the 2015 KSBA’s Fall Regional Meetings were polled on the association’s priorities for 2016.
While you may be able to explain what you do as a school board member, a book by Jim Burgett also can provide some concrete assistance. In The Art of School Boarding, Burgett, a former keynote speaker for KSBA, shares his thoughts and experiences in his 40 years in education.
In his book, he not only explains the basics of the board’s role in school district governance, but delves into ethics, dealing with community concerns and building relationships. Burgett lists 12 words or phrases that illustrate the “art of school boarding” – leadership, superintendent selection, vision, moral standards, relationship building, trust, policy development, the law, ethics, educational support, setting expectations and the chain of command.
I have read the book, but I wish I had known about it earlier in my school board service. I would have been much better prepared and have been able to add value to my district much sooner. Burgett affirms many things I personally believe in: working together for the betterment of our kids, building partnerships, and ensuring that politics do not trump the right decision.
If you are interested in this and other books by Burgett (available at amazon.com and other retailers), his company’s website lists these resources: http://www.burgettgroup.com/group.shtml
. I plan to talk with our local library staff about stocking some of these publications.
There are many opportunities board members and superintendents have to educate others through our communications and involvement with our constituencies when attending community and social activities.
I think 11th-century philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol had it right when he said, “The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.” Please join us at KSBA in “Better educating the public in our role as school board members.”