Educational Leadership Academy Begins First Unit
FLAGSTAFF June 20, 2019
Twenty-three Flagstaff area educational leaders began the first unit of the Beat the Odds School Leadership Academy this week. Administrators and aspiring educational leaders from the Flagstaff Unified School District, charter schools, Northern Arizona University, and early childhood educators are participating in the 14-month long program.
The first unit began with world-class education and using strategic thinking to drive high-quality teaching and learning for all students. Global trends that are affecting educational systems were studied. The group examined why social development and ethical behavior are just as important as high academic achievement in a world-class educational environment as well as the corrosive effect of pervasive low expectation for many students of color and those from low-income households.
“Looking at countries who are successfully creating systems where all students have the opportunity succeed, developed a sense of urgency for me to transform our current system,” said Whitney Tapia, teacher at Knoles Elementary School.
Vanessa Fitz-Kesler, Executive Director of Mountain School had similar feelings about the first unit.
“I appreciated going from a global perspective and the comparison of the United States’ systems to other, higher performing countries and then narrowing the focus, bringing it back to our own schools right now to improve education,” she said.
Fitz-Kesler who is participating with Mountain School’s principal says she is “looking forward to increased connections and relationships with other leaders in Flagstaff so that we can lead even more effectively as a team.”
Tapia believes that the value of the city-wide collaboration is already evident after just the first unit.
“Education can be detrimentally siloed and through this program we have a unique opportunity to help create systems of success for all students in Flagstaff,” said Tapia.
Feelings of empowerment, excitement and hope were pervasive among the cohort members by the end of the second day of the unit. Still the gravity of the work ahead was evident.
“The task ahead is vast if we seek to improve the education of our children,” said Tracy Braatz, Director of The PEAK School. “It’s exciting to receive the tools of change in this program with the collaboration of an amazing cohort of school leaders.”
Tadd Ragan, teacher on assignment from Sinagua Middle School shares this positivity. “I’m excited to develop usable and practical systems that will impact the student of Flagstaff as we prepare them for college and career readiness in the 21st Century,” he said.
Ragan sees the academy as an “excellent opportunity for Flagstaff school leaders to meet, learn, discuss and collaborate on current educational topics and concerns.”
It wasn’t just the participants who were impressed. Elaine Jacobs, one of the two facilitators of the academy had high praise for the Flagstaff cohort.
“I can’t say enough about this incredible group,” said Jacobs. “They are intelligent, enthusiastic, reflective and collaborative because they genuinely want to make a significant difference for all Flagstaff students, teachers and schools.”
The Beat the Odds School Leadership Academy is a partnership between the Center for the Future of Arizona and the National Institute for School Leadership. The Flagstaff cohort was developed through a strong relationship between LAUNCH Flagstaff, the Center for the Future of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. Scholarship funding for participants is provided through financial support from the GEAR-UP administered through NAU.
Meeting space for Unit-1 was provided by Coconino Community College, a major participant in the LAUNCH Flagstaff partnership.
Lunch was provided to the cohort through generous funding from the Northern Arizona Area Health Education Center (NAHEC) at NorthCountry Health Care.
The cohort will reconvene for Unit-2 in August.