School leadership teams map road to the future during Leadership Summit
PARKER – Leadership teams from schools across Douglas County School District took advantage of a new opportunity this summer. During the first-ever Leadership Summit, District staff helped to facilitate planning for the new school year and empowering schools to find the best approach to implementing the Strategic Plan for their school community.
Principals and their instructional leaders gathered for two optional sessions at Legend High School in July. Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen and the DCSD Professional Development team led the teams through the District’s Case for Change and then supported them through creating differentiated school plans for the new school year.
“This is an opportunity for building leadership teams to come together before school even starts and really examine what kids need in the 21st century, what’s their current state, what’s the gap between the two and then crafting a plan that moves forward toward their desired state without moving too quickly and knowing different teachers have different needs,” said Dr. Fagen.
She added, and teachers and administrators agreed, that one of the biggest challenges is to let go of an outdated, industrial era education model that is no longer the most effective way to educate our students.
“We want people to really think about why they’re doing the things they’re doing because a lot of what we’re doing in education is based on a 100-year-old model. We went through that model, we were taught to do that model and it’s very challenging unless you actually take the time to reflect on it and move into the future and do things differently,” stated Dr. Fagen.
Facilitators from DCSD’s Professional Development, World Class Education and PK-12 departments helped to guide sometimes-difficult discussions with each of the schools. The instructional leaders were encouraged to really analyze their desired state and current states, and what it would take to overcome gaps.
“It’s not easy work, it’s hard work,” said DCSD Director of Elementary School Danelle Hiatt. “[When they started] Not everybody was on the same page with that work, but then they’re coming to some common understanding and setting some goals and strategies to help support moving people forward in the best interest of kids for next year.” She continued, “We have a hard time letting go of things we’ve always done and this is an opportunity to really analyze, is that what we need, what can we let go of and what should we absolutely keep.”
As the teams continued to tackle the issues and concerns of what was best for their individual school communities, they would eventually walk out with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of where they were headed.
“We’re always looking for new ways to learn and new ways to apply things, having kids apply what they learn not just memorize facts is what we’re working towards, a more creative medium to show what they learned and what they know,” stated Trailblazer Elementary teacher Nick Mahan.
Fellow Trailblazer teacher Julie Crawford added, “Change is absolutely not always easy, there’s definitely challenges with that work. I believe the work that is happening through the leadership summit is supporting people to move forward at the paces that they are ready for.”
“What we did here today and tomorrow will be the foundation for where we’re going to end up in the years to come,” concluded Mahan.