Presented by Culture Cre8ion
I think we will all agree that the 2020-2021 school year was like nothing we’ve ever experienced. It forced us to move outside of our comfort zones and take a good look in the mirror as we consider who we are and how we will respond in this moment of struggle. In my book, The Beauty Underneath the Struggle ~Creating Your B.U.S. Story I talk about struggles as God’s way of moving us further into our purpose. These struggles we experience are not harm us but to help us to become the people we were created to BEl. The word struggle is an action word, which means we are still moving in the face of adversity. If you served as a teacher, school leader, student, or parent – we were faced with the struggle of learning to bring educational services into our homes while at the same time caring for our own children and relatives. We experienced loss of human life, not to mention what was going on in our political world as we grew more and more divided. Through these experiences we learned the true meaning of leadership, which is to first lead ourselves by assessing our values, behaviors, goals and beliefs to determine if they were serving us well and considering how our behaviors impacted others. Rather than blaming and complaining, we also found great power in taking personal responsibility in this moment. Last month, our team at Culture Cre8ion decided to host a Celebration for School Leaders. This celebration included teachers, students, and school leaders as we all reflected on a year of struggles and growth. We assembled a group of amazing speakers and leaders from various backgrounds in education- superintendents, teachers, principals, and even students. Their messages seemed to link together like a strong metal chain guiding the participants to discover the amazing opportunities that await them in this moment. If you were not able to join us this year, I have compiled a few takeaways from each speaker that I believe will support you in not only preparing for a new school year, but embracing a new YOU as you continue to write your masterpiece! Please join me in welcoming Dr. Nelson Coulter, Cindy Ward, Dana Powell, Wade Stanford, Isaac Egula, Veronica Sopher, and Dr. Charles Dupre. Dr. Nelson Coulter was my professor at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the reasons I was selected to be a part of the 2007 Principalship Cohort. Dr. Coulter’s topic was The Servant Leader’s Guide to Organizational Nutrition. Dr. Coulter’s talk about how our personal health is much like that of our organizational health – was right on point! Just as our organs work together for our own physical and mental well-being, the different components of our organizations work in the same way. If one organ (or department) is infected, it can impact each part. He stressed that there in great power in not just thinking about how we can get better but taking the necessary steps to grow personally can impact the overall health of the organization. Dr. Coulter creatively weaved in his love and gift of music by sharing inspirational songs with us as he sang and played his guitar throughout his presentation. Dr. Coulter challenged us to add one habit and remove one habit from your personal and professional life. Which habits will you choose?
Cindy Ward is a dear friend and someone I have worked with for several years. I first met Cindy when she and I were hired to serve as Assistant Principals together on the same campus in Pflugerville ISD. Cindy’s topic was Allow your ONE Word into your Mind, Body and Spirit. Cindy guided the participants on a moving and engaging exercise of discovering one word that would direct their energy. She had us consider words that describe each area of your BEING- your mind life, body life, and spirit life. What will you do this year to ensure you are caring for each of these areas?
Dana Powell is another one of my dear friends from Pflugerville ISD! Dana served as a first grade teacher when I was working as an Assistant Principal and we’ve remained friends ever since. Dana is a dynamic teacher with amazing energy, and I asked Dana to bring inspiration to our group by adding the teacher’s voice – and boy did she bring it! Dana talked about The Power of the Teacher and School Leader Connection. She creatively weaved in the song, “I’ve Got the Power” by Snap! Dana shared strategies on building better relationships with the classroom teachers. She said that each of us have the power to make a difference with our words, actions, and information we share! How will you celebrate your team for the upcoming school year?
Wade Stanford is a superintendent that I met approximately three years ago. Wade called me one afternoon and we engaged in a long discussion about transforming culture. Wade shared a message about Leading Through the Doubt. Wade talked about his own personal struggles this year and how he had to be transparent with himself. Wade gave us permission to not be okay. He encouraged us to stop having a destination mentality and move to a journey mentality by sharing our own story with others. He said that the hardest person you’ll ever lead is yourself. Take some time this year and share your story of doubt and how you’ve overcome with others. It’s okay.
Isaac Egula is a family social worker in Alief ISD. I met Isaac through my friends at National Educators for Restorative Practices (NEDRP). Isaac was nominated to attend the session because of his passion and dedication to helping children. Isaac’s talked about The Impact of Student Leadership. Isaac stressed the importance of believing in all students and never giving up on them. He even had a couple of students join him at the event who also participated and shared how Mr. E’s confidence in their ability has helped them believe in themselves. What will you do to inspire student leadership?
Dr. Charles Dupre was the first superintendent I worked with in an administrative role. We first met when I joined the University of Texas Principalship program. Dr. Dupre wrapped everything up with a talk about Head -Heart- Hip-Hip (4H) reinforcing Personal Wellness and Healing -- Spiritual, Emotional, Physical. Dr. Dupre advised leaders that they should get their Head (mind) right, while making sure their Heart is pure. The first Hip reminds us of the importance of finding time for physical wellness, and the second Hip is where we keep our wallets and is a reminder of the importance of financial wellness to our overall wellness plan. How can you apply the 4H Model to your life this year?
Last but certainly not least is Veronica Sopher who served as our Master of Ceremony for this magical event. Veronica is a good friend who has helped me in branding my message. I first met Veronica through my husband Kermit as they worked together at Fort Bend ISD. Since the moment I met her, she has been dedicated and determined to assist and support me in spreading my message of positivity. Veronica led this celebration as she introduced speakers and made sure everyone had a great experience. Veronica believes that Leaders at every level make an impression with their personal brand whether they intend to or not.
I'm sure you can tell by the brief accounts of these messages, this was a phenomenal learning experience dedicated to self care. Our team at Culture Cre8ion is already in talks about plans for next year’s leadership celebration. Until then remember, everything we experience in this life happens for a reason. These events, circumstances, and people are not meant to harm us, but to move us closer to what we were created to do. As we prepare for 2021-2022 look for the beauty underneath the struggle and you are sure to discover your true self. With something to think about, Niki Spears, Author, Speaker to Educators, Co-Founder Culture Cre8ion