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  • Empowering Educators to Practice Collaborative Leadership Benefits Kansas Schools

Empowering Educators to Practice Collaborative Leadership Benefits Kansas Schools

Upcoming seminar explores a shared leadership approach and the importance of building relationships at every level for continuous improvement.
Story by Joel Mathis

Today’s school leaders cannot simply set the agenda and give orders — they have to empower other educators to help create thriving, improving schools.

Educators from the Kansas City region are welcomed to the KU Edwards Campus in late April for the Saturday morning seminar, “The Shared Leadership Approach to Reaching a Collaborative Vision” to learn how to make this happen.

Deborah Perbeck, Ed.D., and Joe Novak, Ed.D., from the University of Kansas School of Education will lead the seminar. Prior to taking their current positions, both served long careers in Kansas public schools — Perbeck serving as superintendent in Parsons, while Novak was principal at DeSoto High School.

"As leaders — building principals and superintendents — have to develop leadership within the teaching ranks,” Perbeck said. “One of the things that's huge in terms of school improvement is developing and nurturing and challenging professional learning communities in the schools. It takes teacher leaders to help with that type of work. One person can't do the whole thing."

Novak agrees.

When I was trained as a leader, I learned how to be a manager first,” he said. “Since that time, it's evolved, in the sense that it's transformational, it's collegial, it's collaborative, it's sharing. It's a lot different than being a manager, which was: 'Here's the direction of the ship, I expect you all to comply.'"

That might sound like fuzzy happy talk to traditional leaders, Novak acknowledges, but collaborative leadership gets results in Kansas schools.

“Getting people more involved, having them own what they do, leads to more long-term and high-expectations success,” he said. “And yeah, while it sounds touchy feely, the person who heads up an organization or is a so-called leader really does hold people accountable. It's not rocket science. It's about building relationships.”

The upcoming event is part of the Strategies Event Series, a free professional development series for PK-12 educators, as well as others who are interested.

As many as 75 educators are expected to attend from around the region. The seminar takes place from 9-11 a.m., April 28, at the KU Edwards Campus. Attendees are asked to RSVP online.

“To really have success in the whole issue of continuous improvement,” Perbeck said, “and actually make the changes you need to make, it takes everybody taking responsibility for that work.”