This past week, all leaders in our board gathered for our annual System Leaders Meeting, a sort of pep rally to energize us for the coming year, a moment to reflect on the successes of our past year, and a time to look ahead to goals for the coming year. I look forward to this gathering every year. I enjoy the time to catch up and connect with my colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere, and the goal-setting aspect always excites and motivates me to get another fantastic year started.
We also break out into our superintendency groups during the day. My superintendent opened the discussion this year with a great question, and it was: “How do you characterize the work that you do – a gardener or an engineer?” As I was mulling the question, he continued and added that one’s answer will allow him to best support his administrators, as gardeners, those that feel their role is to nurture and grow, and engineers, those that design and measure, all require different tools and resources.
I think my role is one that combines the two, so I feel more like a landscape architect. It’s important for me to know the people on my staff. What are their strengths? What are their growth goals? I also need to know my space, and be very aware of how I can create and design the space that maximizes the strengths and needs of my staff and allows them to grow as professionals. Do they need more sun or more shade? How often should I water them? Are they the type that flowers brightly, or are they more like ground cover – steady, sturdy and reliable? And where do I put the rocks? How best to treat weeds – the distractions, the negativity and all the other dangers that threaten the vitality of our “garden” without damaging the essence and growth of what’s in it?
I’m excited to see how this year unfolds with these questions rolling around in my mind, and interested to hear from my staff as I put this same question to them, but in the context of their work with students.