Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leadership Is Commitment


What commitment does a true leader need to offer his employer? What commitment does this same leader need to offer himself and his family?

I had to answer these question in 1989, 2005 and in 2008. I moved my family to Valparaiso in 1989 to make a commitment to the Valparaiso Community Schools. My commitment to my family was that I would not leave until 2005 when my youngest graduated from high school. Many exciting initiatives at Valparaiso were in the immediate future in 2005. I had met my family commitment and now was the time to make a commitment to my employer and myself. I was ready to start a new job, but knew that over 40 % of the staff would be replaced by 2008 due to growth and retirements. I made a commitment to myself to work three more years at my position to develop the strongest staff possible and leave them as experts in the new Valparaiso initiatives.

A strong leadership commitment was necessary to accomplish success in the following areas over a three year period :
• Employ new teachers with the greatest potential to be great teachers
• Give training and guidance to these new teachers so that their potential could be met
• Give training and guidance to all staff members for language arts curriculum development, student assessment development, standards based reporting, electronic record keeping, electronic report cards, electronic parent portals, North Central CASSI Accreditation, and development of a student writing program
• Establish supervision, goal setting and evaluations to help each staff member prosper with skills
• Strengthen and in some cases develop informal networks for the staff members to strengthen professionally

Change is not an event; it is a shift of beliefs and behaviors over time. My vision was that I would develop and lead my staff through these changes knowing that I would leave the strongest building staff ready for their new boss. My goal was to prepare everyone for an almost seamless transition of leadership as this would be best for the teachers, students and parents.

The new school year is four months old. The calls and emails that I get from the staff are all positive about what is happening at school, the processes being used, the teams and the new leader. The principal has affirmed my vision and goal as he states that the staff is generous, helpful, knowledgeable and outstanding educational role models. He went on to say that Memorial was a great place to work.

Leadership commitment paid off very well for my employer, staff and for me.

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