Head of School
Suzanna Jemsby has been the Head of School for the Galloway School in Atlanta, Georgia since July 2012. Since her arrival, Galloway has thrived in every way. The school is at full enrollment with a long waiting list, annual giving is at an all time high, and there is an excitement about the bold new strategic direction embodied in the school's unique instructional delivery model called 4D Learning. Click here to read more.
BOLDly Going Where Few Have Gone Before
I’m thrilled to be able to showcase another writer for this blog post. I was fortunate enough to meet Diego Duran-Medina this summer. We hosted at Galloway the BOLD summit, a leadership development opportunity for aspiring educators of colour. The inaugural cohort of twenty-two participants was selected from applicants all over the country. Thanks to extraordinary support from ThinqShift, SAIS, and the Ware Foundation, we were able to underwrite a lot of the costs in addition to kicking off our BOLD Fellowship programme. Diego was selected as a fellow. It was evident through his application that he was ready to make a deeper impact on his environment through leadership, yet wasn’t sure he had the skills to do so. I felt sure that he would benefit from attending BOLD, and that he would strive to give back as a fellow. As you’ll read here, Diego has been giving the topic of people of colour in leadership a lot of thought. He also asks great questions about the landscape of independent schools. And now, over to Diego!
2020 Vision and Beyond: BOLDly Going Where Few Have Gone Before
by Diego Duran-Medina, Shorecrest Preparatory School, St. Petersburg, Florida
I participated in the first BOLD Institute this past summer, and have been thinking a lot about the changing landscape of leadership within independent schools. I am both hopeful and troubled.
In the spring of 2010, NAIS published a leadership research study entitled “The State of Headship”. Towards the end of the article on the report, it noted:
As part of the leadership study, NAIS surveyed a random sample of independent school administrators and found that only 22 percent were interested in obtaining a headship at some point in the future. With 68 percent of heads planning to retire in the next 10 years and 78 percent of responding administrators indicating that they are not interested in pursuing a head of school position, the independent school community could face a serious leadership crisis in the coming decade.
As we approach 2020, I think about what this means for me as a person of color, Latino male and first generation immigrant as I consider my next steps. I’ve worked in independent schools for 9 years, and as I reach my tenth, I am becoming increasingly concerned at how few Heads of Color exist, and if this research bears out, how few people of color might be in the pipeline that want to do this work. Hence, the BOLD Institute, which aims to create such a pipeline.
After spending a week with Suzanna and the rest of the faculty and participants at the inaugural Institute, I feel better prepared to craft a plan for my career. I was challenged and inspired by my fellow attendees and the faculty to ask deep personal and professional questions. I know I want to move forward and I want to move up as an administrator and possibly as a Head of School.
Looking even further, to 2060, it is projected the USA will be about 57% people of color. The broader, more pressing question will be for independent schools to start thinking about what 2020 and beyond mean in terms of diversity and people of color. As faculty, staff and heads retire, will schools be BOLD in their search for new leadership? Will applicants be BOLD in how they develop their skills, take risks and present themselves? Will the independent school community as a whole realize that in order for schools to move beyond surviving to thriving they need new BOLD voices that reflect new realities with new perspectives, both here and abroad?
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