New Leadership Approaches and Training in the School System
Now that new Pocahontas County School Superintendent Lynne Bostic has had about three months on the job, we will be doing a series of interviews with her to highlight her strategies and philosophies about administrating the school system.
In this first story, Bostic provides us with insights into how she will be improving and building the leadership skills of the schools’ Principals, Assistant Principals and Directors to ensure that the students receive quality education.
“So, Tim, one of my goals has been building and supporting our current leaders,” said Bostic. “I am talking about our five principals and our two assistant principals in our school system, providing them the support they need to grow professionally as well as personally. One of my ideas came from a study that we were using with our teachers, it was called the Lesson Study Model, which comes out of Japan. A couple of years ago, we were fortunate enough to get a grant from the Benedum Foundation, for our Kindergarten through Second-Grade teachers. And in this study, it was really focusing on one area that the group had decided on, and then researching what strategies would work, coming back to the table (with) what did work, and what didn’t, and then starting that process over. It is very similar to the NT3 work that Joanna Bert-Kinderman does, not only here in Pocahontas County, but throughout the State of West Virginia. So, I asked Joanna if she would come and work with our administrators. We included our Central Office Administrators as well. And, we sit down at a table, with no computers -just us- asking the questions ‘what do our schools need right now from us?’ We came up with some different areas. We then brainstormed on how we could help improve those areas. First by ourselves, then as a group. And then we selected an area.”
“The area we are currently working on is communication. I think that anybody would agree, that is a big part of any business. And we are a business, we are in the business of education. So, together we are working on communication from not only the individual schools, but from the Central Office as well. And again, this is going to be a team-approach into deciding what we need to do in order to improve our communication with the community, with our parents, with our students, as well as with our staff.”
“We are going to get back together next month. Our duty is to go out and ask our different stakeholders some questions that were developed in that meeting, and discuss those. Also, I am going to be doing -I call them one-on-one chats – with our principals. I sent out an email and gave them five questions that I am going to be asking. One of the questions is simply asking ‘how are you doing professionally? (Others are) how are you feel you are doing personally? What is something that you are really proud of that you’ve done in the last week?
And, also do a walk-through with the principal. And when I talk about a walk-through, that is when the administrator would actually go into a classroom and just take a snap-shot visually of what is going on in that classroom. ‘OK, I saw engaged students today in three of my classrooms’ ‘I saw students on devices in my classroom, and they were engaged in using those devices -those computers.’ We have different things that we are looking at. The big one is, of course, making sure the students are engaged in the curriculum that is being taught.”
“So, those are one of my ways of also supporting those leaders, and turning our principals’ meeting into what we call ‘a flipped classroom.’ I am trying to move our principals’ meetings into this, where we basically send them an agenda and a memo before the meetings, so that when they are with us, they are actually working. Like we are working on our communication strategies, we will be working on learning together as a team verses (what) as some of call ‘talking memos,’ and many of us have been to a meeting before where you are sitting there thinking ‘you could have sent this to me in an email or in a memo.” And so, that is what we are trying to get away from, so that when we are actually together, we are working on improving our leadership in the county.”
Be sure to stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio over the next several weeks as we will hear School Superintendent Bostic discuss changes occurring at the Central Office; the necessary development of preparedness plans at each school to deal with crisis situations which hopefully will never need to be implemented; as well as other programs she and her staff are developing to improve the quality of the education offered in the Pocahontas County Schools.