Leadership, much like religion, medicine, and most athletic pursuits is something that we practice. In each of these instances, there is no concrete standard, no exact right way to do things. We must constantly develop and then redevelop our skills. We must come to understand that how things work in one situation may not be the same as another.
Those in leadership positions must lead in their own manner, based on their own strengths and weaknesses. They must constantly reflect on their decisions and determine the best manner to move forward in the future. They must be willing to make difficult decisions amidst controversy and amidst criticism, for many decisions made will be criticized by some contingent of the population served. And, leaders must grow in their leadership.
In public schools, I’ve found that leaders often emerge “organically”. Teachers become teacher leaders, teacher leaders become principals, and principals rise to higher levels of influence in the field. Often, they are encouraged by peers or supervisors. Sometimes, they are asked to leave their comfort zones for more challenging assignments and greater responsibility.
During my career I have both been encouraged by others and have encouraged others. Our field is challenging, the opportunities for leadership are very public. Even the day-to-day decisions are openly criticized. It is a risk to accept greater levels of responsibility, but it is also a great honor.
Recently, I approached two of the building leaders in the Athens City School District and asked them to take a risk. One was a building principal who I asked to take on a school nearly twice the size, with more staff, more students, and greater responsibility. She had been at her current assignment for four years and had done well. She had expressed an interest in higher levels of leadership and was beginning coursework to become a Superintendent. I did not wait for her to come to me and ask about the position. I went to her. The second was an assistant principal who had always taught at the elementary school level, but who wanted to be a part of the leadership team so much that she accepted a high school assistant principal position four years ago. She had done well, despite having little professional experience at that level. She was ready for the challenge of being the singular leader in her own building. In both instances, these two leaders, with encouragement, decided to step up to the challenge. They will have the opportunity to further develop skills, to have a greater influence, and to become stronger members of the Athens City School District Leadership Team.
Leadership is about building capacity for the future, about working together to be a part of a team, and about stepping up to new challenges when they are presented to us.
Please welcome Mrs. Andrea Bobo to the Principal position at East Elementary School and Ms. Jeanna Sycks to the Principal position at West Elementary School. I am certain they will both make a smooth transition to their new roles with the District and our leadership team will be the stronger for it. Thank you to both of them for stepping up to a new challenge.
Athens City School District