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The Courage to Lead: Impacting School Culture from the Inside Out

Morgan Lee and Sandra S. Merriam

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July 16, 2018 4:00 PM until July 19, 2018

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“School improvement emerges from the confluence of four elements:
the strengthening of teachers’ skill,
the systematic renovation of curriculum,
the improvement of the organization, and
the involvement of parents and citizens in responsible  
                 school-community partnerships.
Underlying all four strands, however is a school culture that either energizes or undermines them. Essentially, the culture of the school
is the foundation for school improvement.”

                ---Jon Sapher and Matthew King, Educational Leadership, March 1985

More than 30 years ago, these words appeared in the article, Good Seeds Grow in Strong Cultures, and marked the expansion of the role of leadership in schools. Since that time, principals and other school level teacher-leaders have emerged to guide the progress of a variety of achievement initiatives with mixed impact on school culture.

We invite you to experience a different approach to leadership development, The Courage to Lead, rooted in the belief that effective leadership flows from the identity and integrity of the individual. Through the process of leadership formation, participants discern the ways in which their selfhood affects how they relate to colleagues, their leadership tasks, their organization, and the world – how they relate to their role as visionaries who foster the energy behind the culture of schools. Based on the work of Palmer J. Parker, author of The Courage to Teach and A Hidden Wholeness, this national program fosters personal and professional renewal by creating a different kind of professional development that offers participants the opportunity to slow down and reflect on life and work.

This retreat is designed for school personnel who are currently involved in school leadership and for those who wish to take on the tasks that energize the leadership that builds a strong and competent school culture.   Participants are encouraged to look inward for the source of the leadership so needed in today’s world.

New leadership is needed for new times, but it will not come from finding more wily ways to manipulate the external world.  It will come as we who serve and teach and lead find the courage to take an inner journey toward both our shadows and our light — a journey that, faithfully pursued, will take us beyond ourselves to become healers of a wounded world.    
                                                                          --Parker J. Palmer

Mentoring and career planning for mid-career faculty and those in leadership roles is often overlooked. The majority of school leaders report mentoring to be infrequent or inadequate. To address this need, while avoiding some of the well-documented issues with traditional one-to-one mentoring, participants will be deeply immersed in a facilitated group mentoring process, which has proven to be highly and reliably effective. The program will energize educators interested in leadership and those already in leadership roles. In addition to individual enrollment, schools are welcome to bringing a team as a way of developing a community throughout the school. 

Your Experience
 Group and individual mentoring experience for career development aligned with personal core values
 Experience a lively, inclusive and trustworthy culture of learning, creativity and scholarship
 Develop skills designed to foster the development of a strong and sustainable school culture. 
 Develop skills for mentoring others.

Staff Development hours will be available as a result of participation in this retreat. 
For too long, school leaders have been consumed by “the what” and “the how” of school leadership.  Now it is more important than ever for us to remember “the who” that energizes the classroom, that initiates the curriculum discussion and that encourages best practices.  Our fast-paced lives require slowing down and finding a quiet place to listen for that Who – “that remote important voice in all who talk.” If we are to talk about things that matter, we know the space must be safe, clearly bounded with deep respect and meaningful listening … Listening not so much for the right words as for our authentic voices; listening not so much for solutions as for the grace that will allow us to stay in this profession, to stand in what Parker calls “the tragic gap” between what is and what we know could be. Our aim is not to eliminate the gap, instead our aim is to live with enthusiasm in the midst of the ever-present gap and to bring our energy to every challenge that arises. An inner journey of self-discovery is the first step toward these outcomes.      

Led by: Morgan Lee and Sandie Merriam. Both are long-time public school educators who are prepared by the Center for Courage & Renewal to facilitate Courage Work, grounded in the philosophy of
Parker J. Palmer.  Courage Work began as The Courage to Teach ® – and has evolved into The Courage to Lead® and Circles of Trust®. Sandie knew this was her life’s work, creating the spaces for teacher leaders and school leaders to claim their voice and agency, from the time she was in the pilot Courage to Teach two-year program more than 20 years ago. Morgan was drawn to The Courage to Teach while in his role as director of South Carolina’s Principal Induction Program.  He realized that his passion was to help educational leaders, including principals and teachers from across the state, bring their energy more fully to what Palmer calls “new leadership for new times…”  Sandie and Morgan’s experience totals more than 75 years – and they have worked with teachers and school leaders from across the US and Canada.  Their work in the world now is based on their shared belief that we teach who we are – and that the most effective leadership emerges from a willingness to examine one’s identity and integrity and to bring that authentic sense of self to the outer world.

Cost $575 includes double occupancy room, board and tuition

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