The path to leadership was the subject of a full-day teachers’ conference sponsored by the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) on August 25. Fifty-five teachers attended the event at Pembroke’s Best Western Inn, said Mark Searson, RCCDSB Superintendent of Educational Services.
The Aspiring Leaders conference was held in response to great interest shown by the Board’s teachers in taking on leadership roles, Searson said. “A formal leadership survey showed that more than 70% of teachers across the Board are interested in taking on leadership positions,” Searson noted. “The conference was planned for teachers to learn the path to leadership.”
A concern expressed by many teachers, Searson noted, was that although there is a lot of focus on leadership, it’s difficult to know where to start. “They wondered if learning takes place ‘on the job,’ or where to access the resources and knowledge that are required to attain a leadership position.” Searson added “there are so many ways to lead outside the classroom, including roles as coordinators, special assignment teachers, program leaders or Ministry positions, as well as ways to lead within the school while still in the classroom.”
The leadership theme was based on the Board’s Vision Statement, which says “Open to mystery and endless discovery in the Lord, we are called to model a servant leadership style following the example of Jesus.” Conference participants received a “pre-activity” assignment to help them reflect on their personal leadership story and experiences and leadership resource materials.
Several members of the Board’s leadership team made presentations at the conference, in the form of testimonials and vignettes about their own experiences and tips on effective leadership. Speakers included the Board’s Director of Education Michele Arbour, Peter Adam, Jaimie Perry and Mark Searson who all serve as Superintendents of Education with the Board, as well as Principals Elizabeth Burchat, Brennan Trainor, Jeannie Armstrong, Clint Young and Mary-Lise Rowat.
Amanda Yarascavitch, an e-learning teacher at RCCDSB, said she learned a lot from the conference. “Before today, I didn’t realize the scope of skills that the leadership team has,” she said. “I am currently working on my Master’s of Education and this day ties in nicely. It’s a nice connection.”
Margaret St. Jean, who teaches at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Deep River, said: “I came today because I am interested in pursuing an administrative role. This day gives you insight into the reality, a better understanding of what we thought we knew about the leadership roles. I particularly like the tips for interviews.”
The conference was important for Kevin Walsh, who also teaches at St. Mary’s. He stated “I really enjoyed the testimonials of the speakers — the real struggles and successes. Seeing our leadership share stories about their challenges and perseverance was really inspiring.”
Emily Russett, a teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle in Renfrew, agreed, “The vignettes were really great. It was good to hear someone talk about their journey and I like that they emphasize that failure isn’t failure – it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.”
September 26, 2016
For further information, please contact:
Michele Arbour, Director of Education
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
499 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON K8A 5P1
Phone: 613-735-1031 or 1-800-267-019l