Touching the Future: An ASCD Emerging Leader’s Story
Post written by David Scott, a social studies teacher in the Northport-East Northport School District (where he coordinates Project P.A.T.C.H.) and school law instructor at Stony Brook University. As a licensed attorney and educator, he is dedicated to engaging students in learning about their rights and responsibilities as active participants in civic life. Connect with Scott on the ASCD EDge® social network or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are attending ASCD's Annual Conference in Philadelphia, attend Scott's session on First Amendment Freedom, Civic Engagement and the Whole Child.
As educators, I think we all have a story to share. There comes a point when we come to realize that sharing our story can help and inspire others.
My path into ASCD's Emerging Leaders program came from my experience as a school leader in my district's involvement with First Amendment Schools. The experience came at a time in my career where I was really hitting my stride as an educator (and as a parent). Being a lawyer and a teacher, I have a natural love of the law and the U.S. Constitution. That is certainly why I am so vested in the work of First Amendment Schools, which was about building capacity for "voice." As a leader, I saw how both instruction and professional development that built capacity for individuals to use their voice effectively and responsibly could affect learning.
Finding My Voice
I have been very fortunate to teach for Stony Brook University in the School of Professional Development since 2004. During this time, I have directly worked with hundreds of teachers. Most of my students are in a special program to become certified school administrators. When ASCD began the Whole Child Initiative in 2007, I saw the natural connections between my experience with First Amendment Schools and a whole child approach to focus the mission of schools on ideals that underscored the dignity, individuality, and worth of each child.
As I was growing in my role as an educator, I also found myself faced with challenges as a parent. My oldest son (I have three boys) has Attention Deficit Disorder and an anxiety disorder. Parenting gave me new insight into the concept of raising a whole child in a way that was personal, immediate, emotional, and real. I think of all the children in our schools and where they will each find their voice. I want to see a culture for all schools that is sensitive to the needs of each child as a whole child, where each child can find his voice. I can tell you the exact moment my oldest son found his voice in school. It was from his 7th grade art teacher, who brought out a confident young artist in him. This confidence and means of expression transcended beyond the art room, and my son is now thriving in his studies and is animated in a way that brings my wife and me great joy.
Calling, Connection, Community
I think that being an emerging leader is both a calling and a state of mind. It is about finding what you are passionate about and finding the avenues to share your passion. Being an emerging leader is about empowering others and passing along the wisdom, experience, and knowledge others have shared with you. It is about recognizing that you have a voice and that you need to be heard. It is about being purposeful every day to take the time to reflect, listen, and leave an imprint on others that will affect teachers and children in the future in ways you can never imagine.
My favorite part of being an emerging leader is that it keeps me connected to the ASCD community. It is also a reminder that people I deeply respect recognized potential in me and that I must honor that through purposeful action to continue to grow as a leader and to influence others. I have met many great leaders through ASCD, including my friend and mentor Molly McCloskey, who had an incredible effect on me as an educator and supported me in many ways over the years.
The Emerging Leaders program is not an awards program. As I said before, it is really a calling. For me it was about a deep, personal commitment to the agenda that ASCD stands for. All my experiences with ASCD directly impact my work at Stony Brook and what I do at Northport every day. I think about a whole child approach when counseling a single high school student or in a presentation before dozens of teachers and parents. In my school law class at Stony Brook University, the teachers in my class learn about the law as the foundation for a democratic learning community, but they also learn about their role in building capacity for student voice and building a school culture that respects the dignity of all stakeholders. I use numerous ASCD resources every semester and channel the wisdom of the great leaders I have met through ASCD.
Sharing Your Passion
If you find yourself constantly thinking about school reform and how you can use your experience and voice to empower others, you might be ready for ASCD's Emerging Leaders program. Being an emerging leader is about a commitment to the mission of ASCD and knowing that we are not only teachers, but we are also leaders who can touch the future in ways we may never realize. Being an emerging leader is a calling to share your passion as an educator every day and in every forum.
Are you ready to lead? Are you up for the challenge? ASCD is seeking a select, powerful, active group of education professionals for the Class of 2012 to become the next generation of ASCD leaders. Apply or nominate a colleague by April 1.