2012 SCORE Prize Winners: Cultivating Strong Leadership (excerpts) - Page 2

tremely knowledgeable, proactive in anticipating needed changes, and driven to have Hamblen County Schools become the best in the nation. According to his colleagues in the central office, Dr. Lynch is committed to recruiting the best teachers and leaders, helping them grow as professionals, and rallying everyone in the district around common goals. “He is committed to making sure we know what to do,” one colleague said. “He’s always looking for the best ways to do things. He tries to recruit the best, help individual growth, and rally us around themes each year. His enthusiasm is contagious.” Dr. Lynch believes in selecting and supporting the right leader for each school. He believes that schools succeed when they are led by individuals who possess particular attributes and skills, especially: • A passionate drive to ensure that all students achieve at high academic levels regardless of the child’s background; • The skill to recognize quality teaching and to help improve instruction; • An unwavering focus on goals and results; and • The ability to use data to inform instructional practices. Principals at the schools are expected to be approachable and accessible, and thus all have open door policies. They maintain clean, organized schools, sending a message of professionalism to all staff and students. Each tackles the issues that emerge in their own schools by designing improvement plans to meet their needs. For example, a school that noticed incidences of bullying immediately responded with a series of anti-bullying seminars to help address the issue. Students were taught to take responsibility for their actions but also to help one another. Positive messages were posted in every room and the incidence of bullying has subsided. The district recognizes that leadership needs to be cultivated and sustained. To that end, Dr. Lynch and his colleagues at the district level provide coaching and mentoring, opportunities to collaborate, and targeted training and professional development. Coaching and mentoring. The district has hired instructional coaches to mentor and coach principals on topics related to instructional leadership, such as use of data for improvement, effective instructional strategies, and crafting professional development to meet the needs of the school. The partnerships the district forms—with public officials, higher education, nearby districts, area employers, and community members—are also crucial to Hamblen County’s success. Pathways to the Prize Lessons from the 2012 SCORE Prize District Winner 18