Innovative School Seeks Innovative Leader

HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL
Position Description

Innovative school seeking innovative leader. Mount Vernon Presbyterian School is accepting applications for the position of Head of Upper School (Available June/July 2014). Head of Upper School reports directly to Head of School and collaborates with Chief Learning and Innovation Officer and School division leaders.

Mission and Vision

We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. Grounded in Christian values, we prepare all students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders. Established in 1972, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, serving 900 students in preschool through grade 12, is located in the heart of Sandy Springs, Georgia within the metropolitan Atlanta area. Located on the 30-acre Glenn Campus, the Upper School (grades 9-12) student body has more than doubled in size during the last five years and is projected to exceed 300 students in 2-3 years.

We are building something exceptional here. The School is in the midst of a new era of exploration and innovation, under the guidance of an energized staff, Board, and faculty leadership as well as committed and connected families. As an outward expression of our inward passion, the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan is driven by a fundamental MVPS question: How might we innovate school to meet the needs our students and our world? The School has been aggressive in launching key programs to position our students as realizers of our mission: Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation(MVIFI), Mount Vernon Mind, Council on Innovation, Center for Design Thinking, Innovation Diploma, Interim international travel opportunities, transdisciplinary education capstone project, College and Work Readiness Assessment, Write Now, and //fuse to name a few.

Roles and Responsibilities

Amplifying the mission and executing the vision of the School, Head of Upper School plays a creative and collaborative role:

  • cultivating and nurturing strong relationships within the School community–students, faculty, parents and other partners.
  • designing a vigorous, relevant, and innovative learning and assessment map for each Upper School learner–students, as well as faculty.
  • employing a variety of evidence-based and innovative approaches and methodologies in order to engage and motivate students of this generation.
  • exercising an innovator’s DNA–observing, questioning, experimenting, networking, and associating.
  • providing professional learning opportunities supporting individual staff needs/organizational goals.
  • co-chairing Research & Design (R&D) teams.
  • developing partnerships with corporate sector, non-profit community, and civic organizations.
  • researching, identifying, and advancing innovative programs.
  • retaining and attracting high performing teaching candidates.
  • overseeing the day-to-day operations–schedule, meetings, events, calendar, and facility spaces.

Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and link to professional portfolio to employment@mountvernonschool.org.

Rosalind Torres on 21C #Leadership – Defined and Evidenced by 3 Questions

Rosalinde Torres: What it takes to be a great leader. TED.com

In a 21st-century world, which is more global, digitally enabled and transparent, with faster speeds of information flow and innovation, and where nothing big gets done without some kind of a complex matrix, relying on traditional development practices will stunt your growth as a leader. In fact, traditional assessments like narrow 360 surveys or outdated performance criteria will give you false positives, lulling you into thinking that you are more prepared than you really are. Leadership in the 21st century is defined and evidenced by three questions.

  • “Where are you looking to anticipate change?”
  • “What is the diversity measure of your network?”
  • “Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?”

If time is money, then how are you investing yours as a school leader?

Time is money.

Over my lifetime, I’ve heard that phrase countless times. As a teacher in the field of economics, I certainly tried to help student learners see the power of time in their investments and savings.

To oversimplify things, you can approach monetary saving and investing from one of two approaches. As you get your paycheck:

  1. you can instantly commit a certain dollar amount or percentage to savings and investments, before you ever spend a dime on any other living expenses; or
  2. you can spend, spend, spend and wait until the end of the month to see how much you have left over for savings and investments.

Which approach do you think actually ends up with more deposits in the bank?

So, if time is (like) money, then how are you investing your time as a school leader?

Do you earmark certain amounts or percentages of time to the big investments you want to make for the long-term development of your school? And do you instantly “pay your calendar” those savings and investments, so that you know time will be devoted to those all-too-important accounts?

Or do you spend your time on all of the things that happen to come your way, only to realize at the end of a week or month that you don’t have a lot (of time) left for the critical investments for the future of your school?

A Case Study of Time Investment: Me

For about five years, I’ve disciplined myself to create what I call a “scheduling paradigm.” It’s one way that I take my monthly time paycheck and make my saving-and-investment commitments first. In past years, I’ve written about this under titles such as “Big Rocks First.”

This year, much of my first semester at Mount Vernon was devoted to an advanced ethnography plan. (That needs to be an entire other set of leadership-practice posts!) Now that I’m shifting into another phase of my work, I used a number of insights from the observations and engagements first semester to build a prototype of my second semester scheduling paradigm.

As part of the prototype testing, I sent the following email to about ten colleagues for feedback:

Dear All:

I’d really appreciate some feedback, coaching and advice from you all. I hope it will take 10 minutes or less.

I’ve attached version one of my scheduling paradigm, and I would so appreciate your eye on it. It reflects some of what I learned S1, as well as what I anticipate in S2.

  • What regularly scheduled happenings in your division/department do you want/need me a part of?
  • If you were me, how would you spend your time – what would you focus on and prioritize?
  • What do you expect from me – from your CLIO – that I might not yet be delivering on? What do you want me to keep/continue doing?

Creating a paradigm like this is a relatively long-standing practice of mine. (You can read about it here, if you are interested.) By no means does this rigidly lock me into a predetermined schedule. Rather it helps me make sure that I intentionally create space for importance. The current schedule does not reflect the impromptu talks, the project work like ATLK12DC, MVIFI & fuse14, iDiploma, etc. that we know will be a part of S2.

Thank you! I want to ensure I am serving you and the school best!

Bo

Part of my decision to seek feedback was influenced by a recent leadership podcast from Andy Stanley (hat tip to Shelley Clifford). The November and December episodes focused on “The Art of Inviting Feedback,” and Stanley’s suggestion to ask, “If you were me, what would you do?” seemed a perfect combination with my developing habit of creating a scheduling paradigm.

Well, the feedback has been amazing. Seven of the ten colleagues have provided me with very specific information about what to continue, what to add or change, and what I might drop. Earlier this week, I met with two of my co-leaders who had also created similar scheduling paradigms for themselves, and we were able to trade notes and exchange ideas about what we saw and how our time investments might synergize and complement each other’s plans.

Now, it’s time to ship the idea – something akin to an MVP (minimum viable product) – and learn from the actual commitment to the time investments.

As a school and education leader that looks for wisdom in the practice of other school and education leaders – and leaders from multiple industries, sectors, and walks of life – I thought I would share my own practice here. If any of you find even a smidgen of wisdom in the idea, then I hope you’ll make it your own and make it better. I don’t much care for the verb we often use in educational leadership – “steal.” We often hear educators say, “Oh, I like that. May I steal that idea?” Well, I offer this one freely. And I hope you’ll let me know if you have a practice that works for you in terms of devoting intentional time to the investments that matter most in our schools.

As for me, I’ve learned that time can get away from us as school leaders. So, I set aside a portion of my time paycheck at the beginning to ensure that my long-term accounts are deposited with savings and investments first.

organized for constant change…organization’s function is to put knowledge to work

Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management, 1998 [Hat tip to Mike Wagner (@BigWags)]

… [A business] must be organized for the systematic abandonment of whatever is established, customary, familiar, and comfortable, whether that is a product, service, process; a set of skills, human and social relationships; or the organization itself.

In short, it must be organized for constant change. The organization’s function is to put knowledge to work — on tools, products, and processes; on the design of work; on knowledge itself. It is in the nature of knowledge that it changes fast and that today’s certainties always become tomorrow’s absurdities.”

Could, should, would we substitute “school” for “business?”

Running two operating systems in concert. #PLC #ATPLC #Leadership #Strategy

From John Kotter’s article “Accelerate!” in Harvard Business Review, November 2012 –

The existing structures and processes that together form an organization’s operating system need an additional element to address the challenges produced by mounting complexity and rapid change. The solution is a second operating system, devoted to the design and implementation of strategy, that uses an agile, networklike structure and a very different set of processes. The new operating system continually assesses the business, the industry, and the organization, and reacts with greater agility, speed, and creativity than the existing one. It complements rather than overburdens the traditional hierarchy, thus freeing the latter to do what it’s optimized to do. It actually makes enterprises easier to run and accelerates strategic change. This is not an “either or” idea. It’s “both and.” I’m proposing two systems that operate in concert.
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During my fourth year as a middle school principal, in 2006-07, we began to restructure as a professional learning community, implementing the incredible work of Rick and Becky DuFour and Bob Eaker. As we progressed in this restructuring around a different work ethos, we tapped volunteers to co-lead the various departmental learning teams. Together these co-faciliators created the PLC-Facilitators PLC – a kind of meta-team to serve as a guiding coalition for the entire PLC transformation.

We ran two operating systems – an admin team known as the Guidance Committee (hierarchical), as well as the PLC-Facilitators PLC (networked). The Guidance Committee was tremendous at running the logistical operations of the school, just as Kotter describes the strengths of a hierarchical administration. The PLC-Facilitators PLC, and the “solar system” of PLCs throughout the middle school, was tremendous at adeptly navigating – even map making – for the strategic transformations necessary in a learning community being influenced by technology enhancements, brain research, assessment literacies, pedagogical improvements, etc.

Two operating systems may seem counter-intuituve. Yet, it was this practice of running two systems in concert that permitted us to embrace complexity versus trying to manage it.

[HT to Tod Martin for the Kotter article!]