La Porte ISD Board of Trustees vice president Craig Hulcy was among a group of school board members gathering in Corpus Christi Feb. 24-26 to learn the latest on 21st century challenges to leadership and the implications on those trends for educators. Session theme for this, the third of five training sessions of Leadership TASB (LTASB), was "Where Leadership Happens through Becoming an Advocate for All."
Trustees began activities Thursday by continuing their book study of Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization by Dr. Yong Zhao and touring campuses at Santa Gertrudis ISD, a district uniquely designed for children of families working and living on King Ranch. Thursday's keynote speakers were professional actors from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation-Bill Baker as Thomas Jefferson and Richard Schumann as Patrick Henry. In period costume and character, the two patriots debated the role of education as our founding fathers envisioned it-the cornerstone for community prosperity and democracy's survival.
Friday's LTASB session was led by Steve Barkley, executive vice president of Performance Learning Systems in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In his presentation, Making Decisions Today that Prepare Us for Tomorrow, Barkley specifically challenged these board members to focus their energies and efforts as leaders on the changes needed to improve student achievement. The session concluded with tours of Aransas County ISD in Rockport, a district of 3,100 students that provides all the opportunities of a large district 10 times its size. A highlight of the visit was a tour of the district's MAXA room, a middle school program designed by an ACISD teacher as a nontraditional approach to increase student aptitudes in computer science classes.
Activities ended Sunday with the presentation of findings by school board members on group research on nontraditional approaches to challenges in today's education.
Selected by TASB, the group of 30 trustees is participating in a year-long education leadership study program. The LTASB class of 2011 represents Texas school districts of all sizes, with student populations of 275 to 106,000, and reflects the range of property wealth. Participants who complete all required elements of the study will graduate next year with a unique graduation designation recognized by TASB.
Each session has a specific theme that builds on the previous session and features state and nationally recognized experts in the fields of leadership development and education. Teams also work on extended learning assignments between meetings throughout the year. Created in 1993, Leadership TASK has almost 600 graduates to date.
TASB is a voluntary, nonprofit association established in 1949 to serve local school districts. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve approximately 4.8 million public school students.