Three keys to leadership on display throughout Kentucky
Kentucky School Advocate
By Davonna Page
During KSBA’s 2022 Summer Leadership Institute, Phil Gore, director of Board Services for the Vermont School Boards Association, shared his lessons for leadership. Inspired by his experiences in mountain climbing, three main themes emerged from his presentation: preparation, persistence and collaboration. While I don’t plan to scale Mount Everest anytime soon, the message was not lost on me.
As board members, we all know the importance of these three concepts in our service to our communities as they allow us to effectively navigate the day-to-day issues confronting our districts. Recent events have demonstrated just how vital all three are when confronted with the unimaginable. The COVID crisis, the devastating December 2021 tornadoes in western Kentucky and now the catastrophic flooding in eastern Kentucky have required board teams to exhibit tremendous preparation, persistence and collaboration.
While these crises could never have been predicted, board teams learned that they have the capacity to better confront obstacles by being prepared. The relationships that we have carefully fostered with our communities, our lawmakers, and each other prepared us with a network to call upon in such times of crisis. Think about how important your networks have been – for both assistance and guidance – in ensuring our kids’ educational experience has minimal interruption. Preparation has also come in the form of studying the policies and procedures; understanding the roles of various stakeholders; and staying current on district operations. It is through preparation that we can take decisive action.
The strength and authority endowed in us as local leaders and as Kentuckians often requires persistence, especially in challenging times. Those of us who answer the call to public service take that calling seriously. I have been in awe as I have witnessed the resilience and persistence shown by board members across the Commonwealth when confronted with difficult situations. You have stepped up, you have made the difficult decisions and you have shown compassion for those in need. In doing so, you have succeeded in improving public education in the Commonwealth.
I have been brought to tears witnessing the countless acts of selfless love districts have shown to their families and neighbors. From Ashland to Fulton and Covington to Somerset, our public schools have collaborated to deliver supplies and aid to the hardest hit areas. Collaborative leadership allows us to confront an issue together that might otherwise be too daunting to go at alone. The overwhelming statewide responses and the outpouring of support following the tornadoes and floods simply would not have been possible without collaboration.
I hope each of you will make plans to attend KSBA’s 2022 Fall Regional Meetings to learn more about and to discuss school safety. We are honored to have staff from the Office of the State School Security Marshal to present and lead discussions with us on the board’s role in the safety of our students. This program is just one way you can better prepare yourselves while collaborating with other districts in your region. The association’s regional meetings offer a convenient opportunity early in the school year to learn and network as we collectively persist in moving public education forward.
Member, Russellville Board of Education