Why Lead? #SAVMP

Another thing I was unprepared for entering a school leadership role was being asked continuously why I had chosen to come to a particular school and assume an administrative position.  In my school leadership program (the one that I now oversee), I can’t recall having the opportunity to practice this answer.  Nor did I have an awesome new program like School Admin Virtual Mentoring Program (#SAVMP) to provide me with opportunities to articulate this concept.  To someone who always likes to be super prepared when I speak on a particular topic, questions like this in casual conversation, as a nervous new admin, always felt daunting and important.  However, being able to articulate why one leads (and act in accordance and consistency with that vision) is vital to building relationships and trust among members of the school community.

What I learned over time, though, was when asked this question, I just needed to speak from the heart.  I thought back to Thomas Sergiovanni’s book, Strengthening the Heartbeat, during which he outlines the importance of tapping into the lifeworld of oneself and the community as opposed to an organization being solely led by what he called the systemsworld.   In reflecting on Sergiovanni’s work, I recognized that I somehow had grown the abilities to build trust, which is the first and foremost needed element among a learning community.  After relational trust exists, everyone within the community can work towards a common goal: providing each child with the skills needed to succeed in whatever he or she chooses to do as a productive member of society.

Leading in schools, especially right now, can seem like a thankless task.  Those of us who choose these roles in school have many reasons for doing so.  Knowing that I had the ability to work with faculty to create a culture of relational trust among faculty, staff and students, plus a broad understanding of student learning, data analysis, organizational change and behavior,  and curriculum development made it feel as though the decision were out of my hands, that I were “called” to do this work.  It felt to be my duty, one that I relished, to serve students and a school community in that way.  Seeing students grow into responsible and productive adults (even some that I perhaps thought were at risk of not making it) and seeing faculty continue to grow as educators and leaders fueled me as a leader.  Getting to watching the continued growth of the students and faculty members I worked with was why I served as a leader in schools.


Sergiovanni, T. (2005). Strengthening the heartbeat.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



Filed under Experiences I Wasn't Prepared for as a School Leader

2 responses to “Why Lead? #SAVMP

  1. I never thought that people would be asking you so much about why you assumed a leadership role. It will be nice to have time through #SAVMP to actually reflect more on what I would say if others asked me. I really appreciate that you are taking the role as a mentor to help us reflect and learn. It sounds like building relational trust with the school community is really important for a leader. Are there any specific tips or strategies you used to help build this trust?

    • I guess my way of doing that was by demonstrating care for all aspects of teachers’ and students lives. Engaging in conversations before and after school, being visible in the common spaces and engaging in conversations then, being in classrooms everyday offering feedback about what I saw in those short walkthroughs. Over time, it builds trust in knowing that I would consistently do what I said I would do. Then, people start knowing that the open door policy REALLY is an open door policy. Also, showing that I am willing to do what I ask others to do and being, for the most part, the first and last of my staff in the building.

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