More than 80 state school board leaders gathered in Memphis, Tenn., last week to discuss school governance trends, hone their leadership skills, reflect on the fast-changing landscape, and learn from their colleagues at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) annual Presidents’ Retreat.
NSBA President David A. Pickler, a member of the Tennessee’s Shelby County Board of Education, hosted the retreat in his hometown for state school boards association presidents, past presidents, and state executive directors.
The retreat focused on transformational leadership, Pickler’s theme for his term as president and addressed the challenges in public education. Pickler encouraged school board leaders to become more effective advocates for public education and school board governance.
“This is our time to challenge conventional wisdom and embrace the possibilities ahead,” said Pickler. “We also must consider the challenges ahead with the efforts by well-funded and well-organized entities that want to dismantle our American institution of public schools and local school board governance. We must take on those who are trying to take away our students’ right to a great education and fight for the futures of more than 50 million schoolchildren.”
School board leaders participated in a highly interactive training event with staff from the Crew Training International (CTI), a Memphis-based company that specializes in human factors training used by commercial and military aviators to accomplish their complex missions. The facilitated training began with enhanced academics and culminated with a simulated space flight using CTI’s interactive, computerized training.
“This training gave school board leaders real skills to build teams, communicate effectively, and capture best practices so they can positively affect public education and the advocacy required to promote it,” said David Dufour, CTI’s Director of Operations who led the training program.
Following the leadership training, school board leaders participated in a wing-pinning ceremony recognizing their leadership training with Commander W. Brent Phillips of the U.S. Navy Recruiting Command. Phillips, before pinning the school board leaders, gave remarks and noted to the school board leaders, “My kids have benefited from your efforts. Thank you for all that you do”
Representatives from the National Governors Association, Northern Kentucky University, several state school boards leaders, and previous NSBA Presidents spoke about key leadership topics and vital issues in the states and federal level concerning K-12 education policy.
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Gen. Patrick Henry Brady addressed the retreat’s closing session and discussed leadership and his experiences in the Vietnam War and longtime career with the U.S. Army.
Brady discussed that school board member’s are “key to the success to the future of America.” Brady noted that we must “teach young people the importance of charter and patriotism” and show them “they can be heros.”
Pickler announced a new NSBA partnership with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s (CMOHF) Medal of Honor Character Development Program. The program incorporates the ideals of courage and selfless service into the middle and high school curriculum to build character and promote responsible citizenship. The program offers Medal of Honor-related lesson plans that draw upon the ideals embodied in the Medal of Honor and their application in daily life. The program already is in 33 states and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe and the Pacific.
NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, praised the new partnership and noted, “We are honored to ally with the CMOHF to pursue our mutual goals of ensuring that students fully appreciate the value of these contributions and that they will be inspired to fulfill all their responsibilities as citizens of the United States. NSBA looks forward to working exploring partnership opportunities with the Foundation and to lend our active support to its mission.”
Brady’s address and the Presidents’ Retreat were featured on WMC-TV Action Five News in Memphis.