Passionate Leaders Build Connections at Leadership Academy
A dynamic group of 80 leaders from educator preparation programs nationwide gathered in Portland, Oregon, for AACTE’s annual Leadership Academy June 26-30. This year’s participants came from all types of institutions, some on their own and others in pairs or teams. Many had just accepted a new role as a chair or dean, others were experienced in their positions, and some were enhancing their skills in preparation for future career opportunities.
The 5-day event featured several general sessions addressing such topics as establishing authority, building consensus, assembling a team, and managing change. Two guest sessions on inclusive education were added this year, one presented by the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children and the other by the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform Center. Based on the positive response to these offerings, AACTE plans to continue including special topics at future Leadership Academies.
A series of breakout sessions provided participants options to learn more about performing the specific roles of chair, assistant/associate dean, or dean. The topics touched on challenges and opportunities associated with each position, such as contributing to a leadership team, dealing with conflict, leading in all directions (e.g., “up” as well as “down”), and managing career paths.
Throughout the week, participants engaged in formal and informal conversations addressing session topics as well as a host of other areas pertinent to their particular contexts. The breakout sessions were particularly popular, allowing attendees to become familiar with different contexts for leadership, to recognize common challenges across varied settings, and to learn of creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Simply said, participants engaged with a community of highly talented and committed peers, all of whom were eager to share and to learn.
At the close of the event, everyone left with new ideas, a better understanding of their prior accomplishments and setbacks, and fresh momentum and optimism for handling tomorrow’s challenges. Perhaps most importantly, participants departed with an expanded network of friends and colleagues for continued support beyond their week together. A strong collaborative network can make all the difference to leaders who are navigating through changing times.
The three of us were honored to serve among the faculty facilitating this year’s academy, each sharing our perspectives from a variety of leadership roles within and beyond academia. Like the participants, we faculty were energized by the passion and drive of the new generation of leaders in attendance. We aspire to the same level of commitment, not only in our daily work but also as we plan for next year’s AACTE Leadership Academy, which will be held in Providence, Rhode Island June 25-29. We hope to make next year’s academy even better!
John Henning is dean of the School of Education at Monmouth University (NJ). Patricia McHatton is dean of the College of Education and P-16 Integration at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Jennifer Roth is assistant principal at Fort Collins High School (CO) and a doctoral candidate at Colorado State University.