This past week, Grand Erie held its annual Leadership Gala, the purpose of which was to kick off our leadership program for the school year. Participants heard from staff in the Board about their own leadership journey and various people shared their challenges and successes in the area of leadership.
A key message shared at the gala was around learning from mentors, both formal and informal, who help guide us through our leadership journey. Taking risks was also mentioned as those risks help to define the direction we go as leaders and though sometimes those risks lead to failure, it’s in failure that we learn and grow and move forward. While I wasn’t able to attend the session as I was off working on my own leadership with other school board Directors that evening, I did send a video taped message connecting leadership to our Multi-Year Plan goal of Success for Every Student and I highlighted that we can reach our goal through a culture of high expectations with a focus on students and staff. The Grand Erie leadership program is one of the ways we focus on our staff to provide excellent opportunities for professional learning.
Every day I see leadership all around me in so many different forms. Just this week I was involved in an activity that required leadership from a teacher and leadership from students in her class. Earlier this month, Liana Clarysse, a teacher at École Dufferin connected with me to comment on my welcome back blog post. Through email we continued a conversation and Liana invited me to be part of a FaceTime interview with her students. Her goal is to give her students the opportunity to see how people in a variety of professions integrate math into their daily lives at work. She wants to observe whether this activity increases for her Grade 3 and 4 students the relevance of what they are doing in the classroom. Of course I jumped at this interesting opportunity to interact with students. Liana’s leadership in seeking out this opportunity for her students was clearly evident but so was the leadership of the students who asked me questions. Prior to the FaceTime interview, the students were briefed on some questions but they had no idea who they would be interviewing that day – to them I was just the FaceTime Friend of the day. I was impressed with the poise of the students and at how competently they asked their questions. I can only hope that I provided them with a clear message about the importance of math in my own position.
We often think of leadership as only being connected to “formal” leaders in our organization, but to me leadership includes all those people who lead in whatever form that takes. Formal leaders direct the way based on the task that needs to be done; however, anyone can step up and show their own leadership attributes and potential. It’s what makes our organization work and makes me proud to be part of the Grand Erie District School Board. I see leadership examples every day and if you look around you, I’m sure you will see them too.