The True Meaning of Educational Leadership

nutcrackersThe tree is up and decorated, the Nutcracker army is on guard on the fireplace hearth (I think they multiplied in storage), the fridge is filled with a colourful and hopefully delicious variety of sweet treats and the first gifts have been lovingly wrapped with festive paper and matching bows and placed under the tree.  Today’s falling snow, glowing fireplace and Christmas music playing throughout the house finished the picture ~ we are officially in the midst of the Christmas season. Which means that most television stations are now offering a plethora of Christmas specials and movies and I’m loving watching old favourites and new renditions.

grinchWhether the main character is a furry Grinch whose “small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!”, a sleep deprived miser named Scrooge or a lovable loser named Charlie Brown, whose attempt to find the perfect tree led to Linus’ King James version of scripture reading from Luke 2:8-14, the true meaning of Christmas is revealed just before the final credits begin to roll.

In each of those stories, the cast of characters were constantly looking for the true meaning of Christmas in presents, lights, sixpence and perfect trees and not where it truly lies ~ something that not only fictional characters find themselves doing.

I often wonder if we are guilty of that same misguided lens in the area of educational leadership. Do we solely measure the effectiveness of a school leader by the increase in test scores, like the number of presents under the tree?   Do we focus so much on the financial resources, like Ebenezer, that we forget about the human resources? Do we honour and celebrate the glitz and glamour, like the lights of the season, even though it may lack depth and true understanding?

This past Friday, a colleague took a group of students door to door to shovel driveways and sidewalks.  When I think about strong educational leadership moves that quickly rises to the top.  I’m not sure that their afternoon away from instruction was purposefully connected to improving math scores, but I have no doubt that the feelings those student received about being appreciated, will serve them well, beyond any standardized test.


After you watch the video read some of the many comments from the Ingersoll community.

The true meaning of educational leadership can’t be neatly wrapped with a pretty bow, nor measured by the number of green vs red markers on a moderated task.  It needs to be an honouring of our past as we venture through the present and look towards the future.  And one never knows who will inform our leadership ~ we need to be open to the possibility of a trusted friend, with a figurative security blanket, being the best source of inspiration.


What is your true meaning of educational leadership?

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The Power of Partnerships

I have always believed in the strength of partnerships. Some choose to ‘go it alone’ and I suppose that choice has its merits at times. Certainly, no one to consult, no one to have to compromise with over a major issue, but at the same time no one to share the joy of accomplishment at the end of the project.

So, yes, I value partnerships and this past month we’ve had the pleasure of working with three major projects which involved strong partnerships. And as busy as the month was, I relished in every minute of these activities.

 The first one on January 24th was the easiest of the three. It involved a partnership with our Board’s Program Services department and working together with them to provide the space and the resources for an after-school visual arts workshop entitled “Artful Language – Creating with Crayola” Some 25 teachers (over 10 were Jury teachers) enjoyed this practical hands-on workshop and their students will be all the richer for them having spent this extra time learning new art/literacy techniques. Actually this workshop had another level of partnership as a representative from Crayola (Heather Miller) partnered with our Arts Learning Coordinator, Lisa Kokenyesi to put on this workshop. Partnerships really do work for the enhancement of our teacher’s professional development and student engagement. Jury was proud to host this workshop and will continue to do that whenever Program Services needs the space and technology we can provide. We love hosting events!

 Then on January 25th, our staff invited 80 interested parents to join us at Jury and partner with us for our first annual Community Forum – An Evening of Dinner and Discussion. And that’s what it was! A great time to get together and ask all the questions we needed to ask in order to come to an understanding about how we as a staff could serve our community and families much more effectively. I drove home that night tired from the long day, but actually extra-ordinarily refreshed in an exciting way. The conversations we had had all night confirmed again and again that we are heading in the right direction when it comes to providing amazing support for all our students at Jury. As apprehensive as I might have been when we first approached the concept, I was elated with the results. Partnerships really ARE the way to go.

And then lastly, on January 26th (I know, I know …three nights in a row. What were we thinking?) we invited all the families of our primary English Language Learners to school to introduce them to our new exciting math research project. The research project has afforded us the opportunity to bring thousands of dollars of additional technology into our primary division for the advancement of new ways to learn math skills. We are thrilled that Laurier University chose to partner with Jury for this research initiative.


Could we have suggested Program Services get another school for their after-school workshops? Yes certainly! Many schools have large enough rooms for workshops like this. Could our Parent Council group, who provided the dinner and the opportunity for our community discussions, just have said this was too much bother to be worth it, who’s going to come, people aren’t really interested? Yes, certainly they could have! And did we really have to enter into this whole research project with Laurier? The amount of time we have already invested in purchasing technology, the amount of time that teachers will need to invest in additional professional development etc. There is work, but this year during this month it all came together for the staff and students at Jury. Teachers, knowing it was good for students, buckled down and partnered together to make this happen. Our admin team, together with our secretaries and custodial staff, all worked together to make all these partner evenings a huge success.

So in that regard, I want to say thank you on behalf of every student and staff member at Jury who will benefit immensely from what went on this month, I thank you all. Jury is a better place for the partners we’ve made this month. I can only trust we will continue to develop such incredible partnerships in the months to come.  The following quote nicely sums up my belief in the power of partnerships,

“If you want to go fast, go it alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

At Jury we want to continue to go far, so we will continue to cultivate those partnerships which are good for our students.

If you would like more information and see some great pictures of these great partnership moments check out our FaceBook here.

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Thank you for continuing to Partner with Us !!