The definition of a successful school has continued to shrink over the last decade for many schools throughout the country. For many, success is measured only in two percentages that are released each summer surrounding student success on state testing in math and communication arts. This is quickly becoming the lone measure of success for school leaders also. Unfortunately, schools caught in this trap of allowing others to define their success are all destined for eventual failure.
As I move forward with my leadership in schools, it will be essential to redefine what success means for our students and schools. In my current role, we have expanded the definition of success to include all four “Cornerstones of Learning.” These cornerstones are scholarship, leadership, citizenship, and stewardship. We believe that building capacity in all of these areas in all students is essential in our new global marketplace. At Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School, we do this through a strong expeditionary learning program, high levels of technology integration, and providing students’ time and space to produce high quality work that has an authentic audience. These opportunities allow students to grow as leaders, citizens and stewards for the community. Moving forward, I believe that it is essential that I continue to inspire others to look at this work, mold and shape it for their environment, and build sustainable models for school growth around the country.
One of the most powerful merchants of our message around sustainable school growth is the student voice. Students in our learning environment see the benefits, enjoy their time learning, and are ready to tell the world about their experiences. One of my future goals as a school leader is to get the voice of the student deeply engrained in the conversations around the revisioning of education throughout the country. Student stories and insight are essential to healthy schools. In addition to student stories, all members of the learning community must continue to share the stories and images of the learning. Images are powerful to the discourse of education, and social media outlets like Flickr, YouTube, and Twitter, allow the positive stories to flow.
As my experience in leadership continues, I also hope to write, teach, and collaborate in some fresh environments. I have some emerging ideas surrounding authoring a book for school leaders that will spark fresh ideas and provide some lateral capacity building for a new brand of educational innovation. In addition, this could mean teaching at a local college or in a virtual environment. Both of these items remain true to my desire to release the trapped wisdom of education. Finally, on a personal level, I hope that my leadership prepares a school for my daughters to be highly successful. As a school leader, parent, and community member in my school district, my dedication to my local community is buried deep in my mission, and I want my daughters to be creative, innovative leaders of change in their community and beyond.