Over the last eighteen months, I have logged long hours observing and working closely with numerous school district leaders. In the early months, my first impression was sincere appreciation–appreciation for stress, the hours logged, the unanticipated challenges of COVID, and the constant uncertainty. My appreciation and admiration remain.
In addition, I’ve also had the luxury of watching a smaller group of district leaders do more than meet the challenges of the moment. They are advancing a bold vision of what is possible–in districts, schools, and classrooms. Of course, these effective leaders have had to also be outstanding managers, making systems, procedures, and routines work in radically new ways on behalf of kids facing new challenges to learning. However, these leaders possess a stubborn doggedness for making schools and districts work better for young people. These leaders are not simply running their districts, they are attempting to transform them. They seem to possess a relentless drive born out of the belief that there is a much more powerful reality they can bring into existence.
This is not a new idea, change theorists have often discussed the need for organizations to recognize a gap between their current state and a more ideal state that they are pursuing. The tension between these two images–that of your current reality and that of your “To Be” picture –can help produce the necessary energy to pursue improvement. The opposite is also true; when leaders and the districts they lead cannot imagine a dramatically different and better reality, it’s hard to move beyond the status quo. It is that vision that provides the purpose and passion to drive improvement efforts.
We at Partners for Educational Leadership, formally The Connecticut Center for School Change, are excited about supporting your bold vision for students. Our vision is a future in which our educational system provides every student an excellent and equitable education leading to a rewarding and productive life. Our mission is to partner with educational leaders to reimagine teaching and learning, dismantle instructional inequities, and support systemic improvement so that all students can flourish.
We do this work in numerous ways. We run communities of practice like our Superintendents’ Network, SIIP, and EDIN, where system leaders can learn from and alongside counterparts from other districts. We work with districts and the communities they serve to clarify their strategic vision through intensive planning and the development of strategic plans. We help districts identify the strategies, systems, and structures to define high-quality teaching and learning and bring it to scale. We help districts design and deliver leadership development for boards, cabinets, school administrators, and teacher leaders. We conduct systems audits, helping to identify exactly how districts and schools operate as well as approaches for improvement.
These represent a sample of what we do, but this list doesn’t fully speak to who we are. Our capacity-building work with districts and leaders is guided by a number of core beliefs.
As Partners for Educational Leadership embarks on the next chapter of its story, we hope that you will call upon us to help you embark on your own.
Partners for Educational Leadership