From Dr. Joe Davis, Superintendent of Ferguson-Florissant School District

I had a great time at the Summer Institute for Excellence in School Leadership at Washington University.  There is just something inspiring about being on the campus of an institution with a great reputation and history like Wash. U.  I almost wanted to go back to school, and the excitement of our administrators was contagious.  I was pleased to see and hear the enthusiasm as our leaders came together at the start of summer to plan for the next school year.

As our team began to think about school transformation last year and what that might look like in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, we knew we needed to build on our strong base and equip our leaders with the tools to demonstrate excellence in school leadership.  Imagine sending anyone out to do a job without the proper tools.  The job might get done, but it won’t be done well, expediently, and efficiently.  Our seven-day summer institute was packed with information and experiences designed to equip leaders and develop their capacity to lead with an ethic of excellence.

Over this past year we’ve partnered with Targeted Leadership Consulting to implement a Framework for Powerful Results.  That partnership has helped narrow our focus on powerful practices to achieve results for our students.  It was great having TLC with us to kick off the institute and bring our new administrators up to speed.  All of the keynotes and courses were valuable for building leadership capacity.  I enjoyed being challenged to consider new metaphors as Linda Henke shared her work at MRH.  Vicki May introduced our leaders to Appreciative Inquiry and its potential to unleash transformational change.  I really enjoyed hearing from our teacher leaders as they shared their perspective on the issues surrounding transformation with our administrators.   I think our team really sees how all these different pieces fit together for the benefit of our students.

The institute has ended, and summer is in full swing, but our leadership team hasn’t let up.  We’re planning for the transition of Berkeley Middle to a true middle school concept with sixth through eighth grade students.  We’ve taken the first step toward our STEAM school as we plan for our gifted sixth graders to attend the gifted program, PROBE, full time, and we have a leadership team at Harvard working with the Public Education Leadership Project as we tackle one of our significant problems of practice.  I have been hearing from principals who are excited to get the school year started and implement the work they began at the institute as we strive to provide our students with the best educational opportunities available.  Many of our leaders have signed on to continue the work of the institute through graduate courses, coaching, and book studies.  We have an exciting year ahead of us.  We know there are challenges, but we are facing the challenges head on, and our leaders are confident that our best days are ahead of us as we move forward as One District United.