Hello Examiners and Fans!
It's been a while since I was able to address this audience. It has been due to sickness, life changes, and more importantly reflection. It's great to be back! In September 2011, I entered yet another level of education: College Department Chair. As the Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership, my world, and the world of our students came to a dramatic halt as we learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut. So many students and faculty reached out to me expressing their horror, sadness and dismay as to what happened to the twenty children and six staff members who were killed. Through my own tears and disbelief, I was at a loss for words! How do I respond to this tragedy? How do I encourage faculty to provide a venue for scholarly discussion, while allowing fellow educators to grieve?
As time passed, concern grew rapidly about the enrollment of teachers into principal preparation programs. Would students become scared and disconcerted and withdraw from graduate programs? Would the nightmares of educators across the world take root in their waking life and lead them to take another path in their careers besides teaching and leading? In past school shootings, emphasis was placed on the administrator in term of responsibility, but Sandy Hook was different. Their leader, their principal, was a hero, she lead like never before, and allowed the PA system to help her save so many lives as she lost her own. As a former school leader, I could not imagine the type of courage it would take to lay my life down for my students. It's something we think about, but pray we never have to do, especially so literally in a physical sense.
Departments of Educational Leadership around the nation had to pause, and reflect on the impact that Sandy Hook can have on developing Principals. Gun control is easier to discuss, armed guards, even easier, lock down drills can be approached with the same simplicity, but how do we motivate faculty to motivate future leaders to accept that with inheriting your dream job could also mean, placing your life on the line...literally. The curriculum of graduate schools, consisting of learning case law applicable to practicing administrators, fiscal impacts and budget understandings, teacher evaluation and common core implementation, seem menial when compared to teaching future leaders how to prepare for standing strong in the face of potential violence in their schools, and the role of "protector." So what changes do departments of educational leadership need to make first?