Creating Better Futures

Author: Shauna Lane, Dean of Academic Affairs, Floydada Collegiate I.S.D.

One of the most impactful experiences I have had as a professional was attending Deloitte University’s Courageous Principals.

From the moment my team and I turned onto the campus compound (a gorgeous campus in the Trophy Club area), it was evident we were entering something special. It wasn’t special because it was nice, it was special because of the attention to detail and intentionality of everything in the environment. From the attendant checking our vehicle and identity as we entered, to the clerk at the front desk, to every shop attendant in the building, the intention was clear: they had prioritized taking care of the atmosphere and experience so that we could focus on learning and growing as professionals.

This experience was the brainchild of Deloitte’s CEO James H. Quigley and his team. The focus was unequivocally impact. As a business, they knew the single biggest impact of future communities will be made by children in schools right now.

Mr. Quigley was passionate about supporting educators to be phenomenal leaders because they have so many moments of impact. The sessions didn’t focus on what to change in others, but on us gaining better understanding of ourselves as leaders, and how to use that knowledge to gauge our relationships, and adjust our methods in order to bring out and develop the strengths of the students, teachers, and systems of the school. Virtually the concept was not to convince others to change, but to change ourselves and the environment we created in order to let the change become unstoppable. (Not a novel theme in leadership and change management, but man did it come to life that weekend!)

From the moment we walked in, the food, beverages (even Starbucks!), and snacks were 100% free. You just walked in and placed your order or just walked by and picked up what you wanted. No money was exchanged and no tips. We received a few tokens upon entering that we could gift to an employee that we felt helped us during our stay.

This made us very observant of the behaviors and attitudes of all we encountered. By the end of the weekend, it was hard to determine just a few employees to pass a token to because all were so very helpful and pleasing.

The atmosphere from the start almost felt resort”ish”, but it was also one of the most high expectation environments my team or I had been exposed to. While the environment was intentionally relaxing and accommodating, the expectation to be ready to learn and bring our “A” game was also evident. From the required dress, to the session content, and network of people assembled, it was evident we were there to learn, share, and grow as individuals and professionals. Just being there made us up our game, before we ever stepped foot in a classroom for a session.

We interacted with company executives, public school principals, and charter school principals to learn about how to make moments matter as leaders, how to leverage our strengths and our teams’ strengths or areas of growth, how to become a better communicator, and much more.

I reflect on this experience now as we venture into the CEN model. Just being in this network has increased a level of high expectation and vision not only for our students, but for ourselves as leaders, teachers, and community, and although we are in the beginning phase, we have learned very quickly that intentionality, focus, relationship, and thinking outside the box is the key to us moving mountains for our students. It is about impact.

How do we as leaders in a school and individuals create a place that sets high expectations, values relationships, allows us to keep a culture of learning and excitement about postsecondary education and skills, and keep our sanity while doing so. Be intentional. Be willing to listen. Be willing to apply what you learn. Be willing to do what it takes to get it done.

Much like being at Deloitte that weekend, being in this network has made me rethink why we do what we do, and why there is a need for models such as this in our public education arena. As a district, we are becoming more intentional about every decision. It is leading us to bring our “A” game everyday and be intentional about our impact. College and career ready is beginning to have a more tangible meaning and impact for our students and community.

There is no doubt when you visit a school like those in our network that the model is exciting, impactful, and much needed for our students, communities, and state. However, it is also very hard, intentional work that will continue to stretch our status quo of what we know to be public education, and that is ok!

We have often talked about in leadership meetings what we should be doing, or what we wished we could do. Isn’t it exciting to be in a network that is designed to make it happen, and to be surrounded by other likeminded professionals to help us all up our game in order to get it done!

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005)
Management Consultant
Quoted in Takeaways by James H. Quigley
Lessons learned in Client Conversations

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