A note from Executive Director JC Bowman to the ProEd Local Leaders team that we wanted to share.
I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas. So, it is important to me that I share a story from my Christian faith.
If people know anything about Jesus, it is that he was a consummate storyteller. Jesus’s parables have the remarkable ability of engaging our imaginations and challenging our assumptions. I have always loved stories. Growing up, my Grandmother Leona Green was a master storyteller. I was the one grandchild who asked repeatedly for her to keep telling stories, even after my cousins had gone to sleep. Even after I completed Marine Corps Boot Camp, as I was about to leave for an overseas assignment, I spent a few days with my Grandmother and had her tell me stories and show me the locations where events took place. As a leader, it is important to remember where you are from and share your stories from the past. My grandmother understood that that was how you kept your heritage alive.
Being a leader is also a great responsibility. In Matthew 22:14 Jesus tells us that “many are called, but few are chosen.” Is there a difference between being called and chosen? I think so. Many people have opportunities to be leaders in public education; there are many opportunities to step out. But chosen people accept the invitation and step out of their comfort zone and are willing to go where they are needed and grow personally and professionally.
In the Marine Corps, we often learned many leadership traits. One of the most important lessons was that we need to take a long view on challenges. We understood that short-term thinking would lead to shortsighted results. We were reminded frequently to consider what was in our long-term best interest as well as in the long-term best interest of those around us. Short-term thinking can have serious consequences. We see that all the time in our profession: bonuses, rather than salary increases; using instructional material rather than textbooks; not dealing with student discipline; using temporary buildings/portables rather than constructing a building; etc. Leaders have to make long-term thinking part of our personal habits and our culture.
We have to be decisive. Decisiveness is one of leadership traits that all Marines are taught. We have to work with the data we have, make a clear, firm decision, and accept responsibility for the results. We also have to do the right thing – sometimes that is hard. Sometimes you have to stand alone on an issue. Things like Collaborative Conferencing sometimes mean we are isolated and the union fails to understand what is really going on. We have seen tremendous leaders like Heather Fish, Dewey Esquinance, Penny Sutton, Cathy Kolb, Kim Blevins, and many others stand up for what is right for children and teachers by themselves. Trust and verify, leaders have to be serious about due diligence and to verify critical assumptions before taking irreversible steps.
Leaders are disciplined. We like winning, and we should avoid drama. We should try to remove as many variables as possible before heading into action – and that takes discipline. Leadership involves taking the long view, establishing long-term strategic objectives, and planning using a rigorous approach – and then acting in accordance with the plan. This legislative session, we expect salaries to be a high priority, as well as several other issues including literacy, career awareness, and many other items. We will be there and we will be fighting for teachers and students. We will keep you updated.