Leadership magazine Nov/Dec 2015 V45 No 2 - Page 11

the information, training and parameters they needed to make good decisions. At the same time, he did not want to disempower himself as he continued to provide a framework. This is and was an evidence-based practice (Thompson, 2013). He solicited input from everyone on the staff and always encouraged spirited debates as the school charted its course toward improvement. He was hard on issues, and “soft” on people. This process took steps to ensure that differing points of view were presented and considered as the faculty grappled to reach consensus. He established credibility by modeling behavior that was congruent with the vision and values of a school. Peter Drucker said, “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” I say, however, “Without credibility and trust, there are no followers.” The premise to this work has been consistent with Peter Senge’s notion that, “Work must become more ‘learningful.’ It is no longer sufficient to have one person learning for the organization. It is just not possible any longer to ‘figure it out’ from the top, and have everyone else following the orders... The organizations that will truly excel... will be (those) that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization” (Senge, 1990). It is important to note that the staff gained experience in developing educational programs and systems, while working with limited resources. Again, they utilized a process to enhance the teaching staff ’s learning through the development of a sound systems approach. At one of the collaboration meetings, the question arose: How do we get both parents and the community involved in our efforts and why? This question was critical because the quality of the community, both economic and social, is inextricably tied to the quality of education provided to its students. Research has shown that one characteristic of effective schools is high parental involvement (Marzano, Waters, McNulty). This research was supported by James Comer, as part of his New Haven Project, which showed improved student learning with increased parent involvement, consistent with research by Joyce Epstein, a longtime authority figure on parental involvement. The principal knew and understood that If standards are to improve student achievement, teachers must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and strategies required for instruction. education equity was an essential part of school improvement (Heifetz and Linskey, 2002). The bottom line was that in just a 10month period, the fifth grade standardized reading scores went from the 30th percentile to the 70th. This caught the attention of educators throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the years, students’ scores were not only maintained, but they continually increased. This once poor performing school became a top performing school, earning the California Distinguished title, in part because academic equity was a major focus. n References schools must work to empower parents and to involve the community at large in the educational process. This means schools must use multiple communication strategies to inform and involve families in school programs and student progress. Michael Fullan stated, “The research is abundantly clear: nothing motivates a child more than when learning is valued by schools and families/ community working together in partnership… These forms of involvement do not happen by accident or even by invitation. They happen by explicit strategic intervention” (Fullan, 2001). Patrick Dolan stated, “To educate children without a deep partnership of teacher and parent is hopeless.” The principal realized that in order to be a successful leader, he must seek out and utilize input from the community and staff to establish a shared vision for educational improvement and generate community, staff and student support for the vision. He needed to be knowledgeable about educational trends most beneficial to students. He realized that actively participating in community and educational affairs that promote the welfare of students and partnerships between schools, parents and the business community were important and essential to success. Under his direction, a school improvement plan was developed and adopted by the Board of Education, utili