THERE IS STILL ROOM TO JOIN, Read All About It!
Twenty-four Maine administrators came together this summer for the first 3-day Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN) retreat held at the Senator Inn in Augusta. Fully sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, districts made a meaningful commitment to support their leaders in building their capacity. Led by several facilitators with expertise in designing and coordinating educational leadership graduate programs at the University of Maine, as well as school coaching and mentoring, the retreat was structured to help these leaders further their skills to realize the goals of their school improvement plans.
During a conversation about the growing demands on school leaders, Marie Robinson, PreK-12 principal of Katahdin’s Schools and superintendent of Medway, said, “At what point do you say ‘Stop–I need to come up with a better way’.” Marie had been a participant in a previous TLN cohort. During the retreat, participants had the opportunity to hear from other school leaders who, like Marie, had been part of that TLN cohort.
“I didn’t think of the [TLN] meetings as another thing I was going to have to do. I looked forward to my meetings, knowing that I would come out refreshed and ready to problem solve,” Marie shared as she sat in a roundtable discussion with other principals from around the state. She went on to explain that the TLN didn’t tell her what to do about any one specific issue she was experiencing, but rather that her TLN experience gave her the resources and know-how to approach a situation with a new perspective and a toolbox of ideas.
Ainslee Riley, principal of Thomaston Grammar School, a first-time participant in the program, commented on her experience at the retreat, “I wasn’t sure what to expect from the conference, it sounded interesting on paper,” she said in an email following the conference. “I am so happy that I decided to attend. It was an excellent opportunity for me to focus on my school goals and my personal goals as an educational leader.
“It is not often that administrators have an opportunity to get together outside of their own district for the purpose of helping one another to grow,” she added. “I would recommend this experience to any administrator, whether they are brand new to the profession or a veteran.”
At the beginning of the retreat, participants went around the room introducing themselves, including information about where they were a school leader, and for how many years. There was a range of expertise in the room, everywhere from, “I just finished my first year as a principal and before that I was a teacher,” a response met with knowing smiles and head nods from around the room, to others with 15 to 25 years of experience in school leadership. All participants brought to the table a unique set of experiences, circumstances, and challenges to share and reflect upon.
In addition to providing school leaders an opportunity to connect with one another, celebrate successes, and address challenges, the retreat goal was for them to develop two action plans for the coming year: one to include continued and on-going professional learning and growth for their schools as a whole, and one for transformational leadership, professional self-growth, and self-care as leaders.
The range in growth plans was broad, focusing on RTI and data, visioning and collaboration, addressing difficult issues, and providing meaningful leadership to staff in order to raise students’ success.
The TLN is not a new program of the Department of Education. It was originally designed over six years ago to support school leaders of struggling schools. However, the TLN for 2019-2020 kicks off an opportunity for any and all Maine principals, assistant principals and curriculum coordinators to join the network. The yearlong TLN experience will bring school leaders together to support leadership growth and to improve schools. The program will include regional meetings, leadership training, coaching, networking, and professional development for school level leaders who are interested in joining.
To learn more information and register to join the TLN, please visit the TLN webpage (https://www.maine.gov/doe/Testing_Accountability/model/turnaround ).
For further questions or information about the Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN), contact Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, ESEA Federal Programs and School Turnaround Director at Chelsey.A.Fortin@maine.gov.