Leadership University kicks off

The main item that impacts student outcomes and school improvement is top campus leadership.

Peter Gorman, president and chief executive officer of Peter Gorman Leadership Associates LLC, was Monday’s keynote speaker for Ector County ISD’s Leadership University.

Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri also rallied his team.

The gathering is set to run through Wednesday and is being held at Crossroads Church. About 300 educators attended.

Gorman has been recognized nationally as an education leader and for developing outstanding leadership teams with more than 30 years of experience in education and business. He provides executive support and organizational development for superintendents, senior leadership teams, and school boards across America. He also assists philanthropic organizations and education companies, his company website said.
Gorman said places that focus on assistant principals increase math and reading.

“But to take it another step forward, statistically significant academic growth in schools that were among the lowest performing … districts have gotten new principals. It even happens in low performing schools, so the pipeline matters for those challenge schools, too. … It’s a strategic approach and what I love is all principals benefited all principals. … Even if you’re not part of the group that’s being focused on for an instructional approach, you get better because there’s an afterglow. Because what does it do, it changes the climate and culture,” Gorman said.

When others see good people doing things, they start doing good things as well and the attitude changes, he said.

Districts need to ensure that they have good professional learning communities, that they have the right discussions when they talk about the work and make resource and personnel decisions for the right reasons and in the right way.

“Seems pretty simple, but it’s hard,” Gorman said.

He added that it is transferable to other parts of the operation, as well, because these are basic human needs.

“People need to know the direction we’re going. They want to be cared for and put in positions where they can be successful,” he added.

Muri spoke to his team Monday morning, as well to issue a challnege for leaders in the district to make sure they are serving the children.

“I use the analogy that ECISD is celebrating its 100th birthday. We’re 100 years old on Aug. 18. On Aug. 19, we start a second century of learning and the leaders that will begin that new century of learning are all right here — the principals, the directors, the assistant superintendents, etc. So the challenge was, what will we create for our students. Our students deserve to be successful. … Part of our mission is to make sure that our kids are successful in an ever-changing society. And over the next century, society will certainly continue to change and evolve, and our kids have to be prepared for that environment,” Muri said.

“So how will the leaders in our organization move into the second century of a school system and lead effectively. We also talked about the innovator’s dilemma. One challenge that innovators face, whether it’s in the business world or in education, is the challenge of the status quo. Many times your stakeholders don’t want you to change or get better. They like things the way they are. And in public education, we have to continue to change and get better. So how does an innovative school district overcome that? We used two words; one is a clear vision. We talked about what that clear vision is for ECISD,” Muri said.

“And the second thing is drive. You’ve got to have internal drive to drive that vision forward. We talked about overcoming the innovator’s challenge …,” he added.

What makes it more exciting, Muri said, is that they don’t know what the future holds or what jobs will be out there so students have to learn to adapt.

“The pandemic is a great example. Who would have ever thought that kids would have to go to school completely virtual? Well, if our kids weren’t adaptable, they didn’t do well. But many of our kids adapted to that change and became successful. As we move forward, we’re not sure what changes the world has in store, but whatever may happen to be our kids will really have to be equipped to be successful in that world jobs.”

“Another thing, we’ll have kids in school today that we’ll be working in jobs that have yet to be created. But we’re educating them today and so we’ve got to make sure that they have the skills necessary to be successful in that job that has yet to be created. Hard work, but it’s fun work,” Muri added.

Executive Director of Leadership Robert Cedillo said the content was very insightful.

“There’s always golden nuggets to pull out of each speaker. We all have different experiences and so learning from each other is very valuable and also serves as a reminder of certain things that we tend forget to help our schools …,” Cedillo added.
Sessions like this also make him realize the importance of working together.

“With COVID, we had to work basically in our office in our on an island. And so bringing everybody together and seeing everybody and being able to collaborate again is definitely something that that is valued more than ever,” Cedillo said.

Travis Elementary School Principal Amy Russell noted that Gorman was a mentor to Muri.

“And he really just laid it out in black and white that principals are statistically the key person that impacts the instruction in the classroom. We’ve always heard that it’s teachers, teachers, teachers and it is. And the only person that has a greater impact on the classroom is the instructional leader of the campus. So I feel rejuvenated. I feel pumped up. I feel enthusiastic about my role; ready to start the school year,” Russell added.