A hallmark of strong leadership is when the initiatives and successes of an organization (or school) continue after the leader moves on. While the personal strengths of an individual teacher, coach, or administrator may have a life-changing impact on students, programs, and the school, the great school continues to deliver great experiences even after those rock stars retire or move on. The same goes for our superstar students.
I can recall times when people lamented about the pending commencement of a senior class that had excelled in many ways. There was fear that academic, arts, athletics, and service would never be the same with the advancement of those students. Yet, the next generation of students stepped up and programs continued to excel. Who would have thought a year ago, when we were dreading the loss of the Class of 2017, that the Class of 2018 would have 5 National Merit Finalists and 2 Presidential Scholar nominees? Try to top that! But I am confident we will. I am confident that the spring musical will be terrific. I am confident that school records will be broken and I am confident our college placement will remain exceptional. Great students attract other great students. Yet, the leadership of teachers, coaches, directors, and administrators implements the systems that allow programs to remain excellent.
Schools around the world have experienced the retirement of iconic baby boomer school leaders who established programs of excellence. In some cases, the programs relied on the personal influence of the leader. In others, the leader put in place a system that would sustain excellence even after retirement. For example, we have seen this occur with changes in our Experiential School and theatre programs. Betty Gootson and Janet Root established programs of excellence. Those programs continue to be hallmarks because our new leaders have embraced the strong foundations they have inherited and have added their own personal leadership styles to advance these programs. Many of us could point out programs, classes, and activities that have blossomed as new leaders have stepped in. While we never diminish the influence of those previous teacher-leaders, we realize that this generation of students and the changing school environment requires a different kind of talent.
The greatest change I have observed in school leadership is that the most outstanding individuals know how to collaborate with others. We can still celebrate the isolated performance of a great teacher, coach, director, or administrator who passionately connects with students and advances his or her field. Students love, admire, and benefit from these educators. Yet, it is the teacher, coach, director, and administrator who works with others to advance the strategic imperatives of the school, who ensures that both current and future generations of students, teachers, and families are served. Every successful school (and for that matter, industry) knows that having everyone working for the same goals best serves the students and clients.
It is admissions time and hiring time. Shorecrest seeks students, families, and educators who can strengthen our community, enhance our programs, and ensure that we are serving the needs of all students and their families. Our efforts to bring in the right people will lead to the strengthening of our school culture and community. I am convinced if we do that well, all other strategic imperatives will follow.