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Articles tagged with leadership

Author and speaker outlines the traits of a good leader

Leadership researcher and author John Spence’s Focus on Education session at NSBA’s Annual Conference Saturday offered several ways to figure out if you’re a good leader.

Spence based his information on his own research and others in the business world to define the qualities of good leaders.

* Character. People want leaders who are honest and forward-looking, he said. Be good at your job skills as well as being good at leadership skills. “If if you aren’t committed and engaged, no one else is either,” he said.

* Courage. People want leaders who have the courage to think big, to be bold, to speak the truth, to make great things happen, and to be vulnerable.

* Communications. People expect their leaders to be great communicators. More importantly, he said, leaders ask great questions and listens.” Authenticity is important — be the real you.

* Trust. Consistently communicate that you’re competent and you care, he said. “How long does it take to build up trust like this? A long time. How long does it take to lose it? Minutes.”

* Collaboration. “This is a big idea,” he said. “We have two things to compete with — the quality and talent of the people on the team and the relationships that they have with their customers.”

* Competency. Good leaders have a commitment to lifelong learning.

* Compassion. People feel safe – physically, psychologically, and emotionally. “If they don’t feelsafe, they don’t bring their full selves to their jobs,” he said.

* Contribution: Many people do what’s easy and convenient, he said, but leaders do what’s right and what is best.”

Spence asked audience members to write a list of what kind of leader they wanted to be, and to take those lists home and share them with their board colleagues and others.

“Our entire country is watching you,” he said. “You are one of the legs that holds up the entire country. We are focused on your leadership ability and your success. We are watching you and depending on you to be the best leaders you can be.”


Kathleen Vail|April 5th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , |

Council of Urban Boards of Education selects 2013-2014 steering committee

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has elected its Chair, Vice Chair, and new members to its Steering Committee.

School board members Minnie Forte-Brown, of North Carolina’s Durham Public Schools, and Van Henri White, of New York’s Rochester City School District, will begin a one-year term as Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. They began their service in these leadership roles in October 2012.

Forte-Brown is currently the Vice Chair of Durham Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and has served on the board since 2004 and was the Chair from 2006-2012. Under her leadership, the DPS Board of Education participated in Reform Governance in Action training, a two-year program of the Center for Reform of School Systems. Forte-Brown is committed to engaging students, parents and the community. Forte-Brown was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue to the North Carolina Council of the Status of Women and the Gang Advisory Task Force. She is the co-founder of the East Durham Children’s Initiative and serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina School Boards Association and National School Boards Action Center.

White is the Vice President of the Board of Education in Rochester City School District and has served on the school board since 2007. He is also an author, civil rights attorney, and founder of the Center for the Study of Civil and Human Rights Laws. White is an outspoken advocate for improving school safety, graduation rates, decreasing truancy rates, and attacking the problem of lead poisoning. He is the author of Frustration in America, which examines the impact of racism and responsibility of African American men and boys and Marching Forward by Looking Back: Fifty Years Since the March on Washington.

The following school board members were elected this year to serve on CUBE’s 16-member Steering Committee:

Ericka Ellis-Stewart of North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools;
Verjeana Jacobs of Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools;
Dr. Christina Saavedra of Texas’s Brownsville Independent School District;
David Stone of Maryland’s Baltimore City Public Schools;
Caroll Turpin of Michigan’s Pontiac School District; and
Ruth Veales of Oklahoma’s Oklahoma City Public Schools.

“CUBE’s new Steering Committee members bring years of experience in urban education and are strongly committed to aiding the work of urban school boards to advance student achievement,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director.

CUBE, an organization guided by Steering Committee members, represents a diverse group of urban school board members dedicated to the needs of children in urban centers. CUBE represents nearly 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policymaking effectiveness.

“As Chairman of CUBE’s Nominating Committee, I am pleased to have a democratic process that allows urban school board members to be a part of CUBE’s leadership,” said Lock P. Beachum, Sr., the head of this year’s Nominating Committee and Past Chair of CUBE. “CUBE will continue to be a leader in urban education to advocate for excellence and equity in public education.”

Alexis Rice|April 16th, 2013|Categories: Urban Schools, CUBE, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys elects new leadership

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA), the national network of attorneys representing K-12 public school districts whose mission is to support school attorneys and provide leadership in legal advocacy for public schools, elected new leaders and directors for 2012-2013 during its annual meeting in San Diego. The 22-member Board of Directors oversees COSA’s continuing legal education programming for its 3,000 members across the United States and Canada.

Allison Brown Schafer became Chair; she is Director of Policy and Legal Counsel for the North Carolina School Boards Association and she received her J.D. from Wake Forest University.

Gregory J. Guercio became Chair-Elect; he is founding partner of the Farmingdale, N.Y., law firm of Guercio & Guercio, LLP, and he received his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law.

Justin D. Petrarca became Vice-Chair; he is a partner with the Chicago firm of Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, and he received his J.D. from the John Marshall Law School.

Andrew M. Sanchez became Secretary; he is a partner in the Albuquerque, N.M. office of Cuddy & McCarthy, and received his law degree from The George Washington University Law School.

“This is an exciting time for COSA and NSBA,” said Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., NSBA’s General Counsel. “COSA’s new leadership represents the top education law attorneys across the country, ensuring that NSBA will continue to be the nation’s foremost legal advocate for public schools.”

COSA also elected three new directors to two-year terms: C. Wesley Bridges II is the general counsel for the School Board of Polk County, Fla.; Nancy Hungerford is the founder of The Hungerford Law Firm in Oregon City, Ore.; and James A. Keith is a partner with Adams and Reece in Jackson, Miss.

In addition, COSA elected four directors to a second two-year term: Diane Marshall-Freeman is a partner in the Sacramento, Calif., office of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP; Joanne Nelson Shepherd is the district counsel for Jackson (Mississippi) Public School District; Leslie R. Stellman is a partner in the Towson, Md. office of Pessin Katz Law, P.A.; and Christopher P. Thomas is general counsel and director of legal and policy services to the Arizona School Boards Association.

“The council’s new leaders are extremely dedicated professionals who will admirably serve COSA members in their advocacy on behalf of public schools,” said Patrice McCarthy, past COSA Chair and head of this year’s nominating committee. “Together, they bring deep and rich legal experience and tremendous energy to the organization.”

Alexis Rice|April 12th, 2013|Categories: School Law, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

NSBA President honors Anne L. Bryant

Editor’s note: C. Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association, (NSBA) sent the following letter to NSBA staff, board members, and affiliates earlier today:

Dear Colleagues:

Today, our extraordinary Executive Director for the past 16 years will spend her last hours as the leader of our association.  Dr. Anne Bryant has led NSBA through challenging times and through changing times.  She helped raise the national stature of NSBA and became the impetus behind NSBA’s growth and recognition as the national voice on public education.

Throughout her time at NSBA Anne has had many personal and professional accomplishments. Anne came to NSBA in 1996 after serving the previous 10 years as Executive Director of American Association of University Women.  After joining NSBA, the organization continued to be a leader in the legislative advocacy on Capitol Hill, through the contentious reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), completed in 1997, then the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act in 2001-02. She was a founding member of the Learning First Alliance, an important organization that has brought together the nation’s leading public education groups, in the late 1990s.  Under her leadership, NSBA launched the first “Key Work of School Boards” in 1999  and a revised edition in 2009, and the Center for Public Education in 2006.  And NSBA has become the go-to source for legal information on education, filing more amicus briefs than any other education associations (In 2007 NSBA participated in two groundbreaking cases before the United States Supreme Court–Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1 and Morse v. Frederick).  In 2010 the Center for Public Education launched the Data First website.  Between 2011 and 2012, Anne worked in concert with the Board of Directors to establish the strategic plan that drives NSBA’s current work and lays the groundwork for the next Executive Director and board to continue NSBA’s leadership in legal, legislative, and public advocacy.

In addition to these accomplishments, Anne has received numerous honors:
*1997: Appointed to Universal Service Administrative Company Board of Directors
*1998-2002: Serves on the Baldridge Board of Overseers
*2002: Award from American Society of Association Executives Foundation for exceptional work
*2005: Awarded Association Trends Association Executive Director of the Year Award
*2006-2007: Serves as Chair of Learning First Alliance
*2007: Accepts seat on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award
*2012: Presented the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training Community Builder Award
*2012: Receives the Women Who Advance Excellence in Associations Lifetime Achievement Award from ASAE

Her commitment to public education is shown by her works and her leadership during her tenure at NSBA.  She has been a passionate advocate for local school boards and the communities they serve.  Anne has assisted in making NSBA a recognized association in Washington.  Evidence of her work on behalf of public education will be visible for years to come and the foundation that has been laid will give her successor a solid springboard for future work on behalf of America’s school boards.

As President of NSBA I wish Anne the best in all of her future endeavors.  I am certain that neither her work nor her heart will be far from public education.  I will also miss the scarves that have become her fashion trademark.  Thank you, Anne, for all you have done on behalf of NSBA.

With warm regards,

C. Ed Massey
President – NSBA

Joetta Sack-Min|September 28th, 2012|Categories: Announcements|Tags: , , , |

Editorial discusses the importance of school boards

What does your community know about your school board and the work school board members do?

Two members of California’s Fresno Unified School District’s school board recently penned an editorial for the Fresno Bee detailing the importance of their jobs. Cal Johnson and Valerie Davis urged their community members to pay attention to the candidates running for the school board because it has such a crucial role in guiding the community’s education system.

“School boards set direction for the district; we advocate for public education as well as needed improvements; we are currently maintaining the financial stability of our districts under some of the worst economic conditions in modern history; and, most importantly, we keep a laser-like focus on improving student achievement,” the authors write.

Davis and Johnson discussed some of the challenges facing the Fresno Unified School District and others in the area, including extreme concentrations of poverty that impact students’ abilities to attend school and learn.

“Schools cannot solve these problems alone, so they seek the community’s help to alleviate the scars that poverty inflicts on so many of the children and families in our Valley,” they write. “Everything from land-use decisions to policy approaches to public safety, mental health, and recreation impact our challenge.”

Read the column at the Fresno Bee and learn more about ways to communicate with your community from American School Board Journal’s columnist Nora Carr in “Telling Your Story.”



Joetta Sack-Min|July 19th, 2012|Categories: Governance, School Boards, American School Board Journal, School Board News|Tags: , , , , |

NYSSBA director writes on leadership and student achievement

Timothy Kremer, the executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, writes about the need for school board leadership and the need to focus on student achievement in a blog for “Boards Eye View,” which is published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Read the blog and add your comments at Boards Eye View.


Erin Walsh|June 11th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Student Achievement|Tags: , |

In June’s ASBJ: California or Connecticut — when it comes to school leadership, a little humility goes a long way

Something felt different in Southern California, and I’m not just talking about the beaches, the palm trees, or the bird of paradise flowers that don’t generally sprout here in Washington.

I admit it — I love this place. Many years ago, I went to college out here, and I can still remember my freshman roommate muttering in his sleep one predawn morning as our room shook like it was tethered to a roller coaster:

“Go back to sleep; it’s just an earthquake.”

Just an earthquake.  It was — and here’s a California expression I learned that year — “No big.”

So when I visited the Long Beach Unified School District last spring to do a story on why this highly diverse, seaside district is one of the top-performing urban school systems in the nation, I was predisposed to like the place. But it wasn’t just palm trees and nostalgia. After spending hours talking to teachers, administrators, and other school leaders, including the superintendent and a school board member, I concluded: These people are good: They’re engaged. They’re focused. Dedicated. Not in it for themselves, it seems, but for the district’s mission itself.

For lack of a better term, I referred to the atmosphere as one of “relaxed professionalism.”

Kimberly Hough, who has a piece in ASBJ’s June issue, has another word for what produces this kind of working environment: “humility.” It’s something we don’t often talk about, but it’s enormously important to being an effective school leader.

“Humble people are curious people,” writes Hough, an assistant superintendent with West Virginia’s Berkeley County Schools. “They feel comfortable admitting what they don’t know and with finding the answers. They are able to simultaneously recognize their own strengths and see their own weaknesses. They are open to feedback and making adjustments.”

Hough has done research that measures school leaders’ humility and its correlation with student achievement in math and English. She arrived at humility – or the lack thereof – by comparing leaders’ estimation of themselves with the estimations of those around them. Not surprisingly, the in-agreement self-raters (as opposed to the over-estimators and under-estimators) correlated with the highest student achievement.

Pretty interesting stuff – and it pretty much nails the leadership culture I saw at Long Beach Unified, which has been widely recognized for its success.

“One thing I appreciate about this school district – they celebrate,” says Long Beach school board President Felton Williams. “And then they go back to work.”

Or, as my roommate might have put it: “No big.”

Lawrence Hardy|June 8th, 2012|Categories: Governance, School Boards, Urban Schools, Data Driven Decision Making, Board governance, Key Work of School Boards, 21st Century Skills|Tags: , , , |

NSBA signs shared vision for future of teaching

As part of this week’s Labor Management Conference, the National School Boards Association signed a “shared vision” for the future of the teaching profession that outlines seven elements to transform the field.

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant participated in the opening panel of the conference, held May 23 to 24 in Cincinnati.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the shared vision focuses on three goals, which include ensuring all students should be prepared for college, career, and citizenship; improving opportunities and access to higher education for less privileged students; and preparing all students to be globally competitive. The seven core principles to achieve these goals include:

• A culture of shared responsibility and leadership;

• Recruiting top talent into schools prepared for success;

• Continuous growth and professional development;

• Effective teachers and principals;

• A professional career continuum with competitive compensation;

• Conditions that support successful teaching and learning;

• Engaged communities.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and representatives from six other national education organizations also signed the document.

“The principles outlined in the document represent ways to strengthen and elevate teaching as one of our nation’s most valued and respected professions,” said Duncan.

In addition to NSBA and Duncan, co-signers of the document include the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.


Joetta Sack-Min|May 24th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Professional Development|Tags: , , |

Joplin’s ‘amazing’ year

You never know who you’re going to bump into at the NSBA Annual Conference. But after a couple of days, I usually have a pretty good idea.

Each year, I meet a board member or superintendent early on, either on the shuttle bus or in line at the hotel. And over the course of the next several days, I seem to see that person everywhere.

Last year, that person was Randy Steele.

Randy is a school board member in Joplin, Mo., and justifiably, he was proud of the Magna Award grand prize that his district was receiving for a program called “Bright Futures.” Over the course of the three-day meeting, I saw him everywhere—in the hallway, in sessions, at the Magna luncheon. By the end of the week, it had become something of a running joke.

What happened in Joplin just six weeks later was no joke.

An EF-5 tornado cut a three-quarter mile path through the middle of this Missouri community, ultimately claiming 161 lives, causing $3 billion in damage, and destroying several of Joplin’s school buildings. Immediately, ASBJ’s staff reached out—via Facebook—to Steele and Superintendent C.J. Huff, asking if there was anything we could do.

This month’s cover story is the result.

Over the past year, we have followed a remarkable tale of resilience and recovery, of looking ahead when it is more tempting to look back. It’s a fascinating study of how tireless leaders—board members and administrators—turn crisis into opportunity as they work to protect students and staff and prevent them from having a lost year.

The first few paragraphs of this essay were taken from my editor’s note that appears in the print edition. Since we wrapped up the issue, which was distributed at this year’s annual conference, there are a number of things to update:

• Just after the issue went to press, voters narrowly passed a $62 million bond issue that will help in the district’s rebuilding effort. Joplin High School is the centerpiece of that effort; all of the pictures in the print edition are from the devastated building that is still being razed. (You also can find more pictures from the high school and the Joplin community that I took last year on ASBJ’s Facebook page —

• A week after the construction referendum, former board chair Ashley Micklethwaite announced that she has accepted a job with Mercy Health Center in St. Louis and will leave Joplin later this year.

• The district has started working on plans for President Obama’s commencement speech on May 21 — the day before the first anniversary. The next day, ceremonial groundbreaking ceremonies will be held for the new schools.

C.J. Huff, who has done yeoman’s work in leading the district’s recovery efforts, told the Joplin Globe that he and other administrators know that May 22 will be a tough and emotional day for the community’s residents.

“Everybody is in a different place,” Huff said. “Those days will bring a lot of celebration and a lot of reflection. As we reflect on the past, we have to think about the future. It’s just another step in the healing process.”

The year has not been without its glitches. In fact, Joplin is facing a lawsuit from the out-of-state contractor hired to demolish the high school. People who remain unsettled by the storm were upset that their taxes would go up and voted against the referendum, which passed by a 57-43 margin.

But none of that should put a damper on the remarkable story that school leaders — anyone in a position of leadership really — can read in this month’s issue.

Just before the issue went to press, I asked Randy if I would see him at this year’s conference. The new board president said he wasn’t sure, and ultimately he did not go. The reason: The meeting conflicted with Joplin’s prom.

Two weeks ago, in Boston, I got onto a packed shuttle and headed toward the back. This time, I bumped into Ashley Mickelthwaite. She had been remarkably candid in our talks last November and again in March, talking about the loss of her home, the struggles of her community, the changes in her job — Joplin’s Mercy Hospital was destroyed in the storm — and the hard work going on in the district.

As we rode toward the convention center, she told me about her decision to resign from the board and leave her hometown (“It’s tough, but it’s time,” she said.) She also talked of the resilience — and the grind — that everyone continues to face.

“It’s been an amazing year,” she said.


— Glenn Cook, Editor-in-Chief

To read the story, go to

Glenn Cook|May 2nd, 2012|Categories: Crisis Management, Leadership, American School Board Journal, NSBA Annual Conference 2012|Tags: , , |

The week in blogs: But can your principal do this?

Blogger Fawn Johnson mentions “hapless Principal Krupp” from the Captain Underpants series and “deliciously evil Principal Rooney” from Ferris Bueller’s Day off. But my favorite fictional school leader is Principal Skinner from The Simpsons, who, many years ago, as I recall, escaped from some nefarious crooks who had locked him in the school basement by using — what else? — fifth grade science principles. Pretty cool!

Real principals don’t have to be quite as heroic, but, as Johnson notes in her National Journal blog, the job involves a lot more in the way of academic leadership than it once did. Citing recent a recent report from NSBA’s Center for Public Education, Johnson says that principals can be the key to turning around low-performing schools — if they’re given enough years to do the work.

This Week in Education’s John Thompson takes a skeptical look at credit recovery in his blog, aptly titled “In Praise of Seat Time.” He’s commenting on two other critiques of the practice by the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews and Title I-Derland’s Nancy Connor. Also see “Course Credits on the Quick, in the March/April issue of the Harvard Education Letter.

Lastly, it’s college acceptance/rejection season, and. Time’s Andrew Rotherham has some sage words for high schoolers receiving “the thin envelop.”

Lawrence Hardy|April 28th, 2012|Categories: Governance, Curriculum, Center for Public Education, Educational Research, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |
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