ENVISIONING THE LEADERSHIP TEAM:
The team will have responsibility for bringing people from different parts of the rural community (e.g., schools, business, faith communities, health and social services organizations) together to promote the academic success of all children, kindergarten through graduation. The members must be able to motivate community members and leaders to get involved, design and manage a comprehensive effort, and bring about sufficient unity for a diverse group of people to work together. We anticipate 6-7 members in our leadership team, including a parent, a school board member or superintendent, a teacher, a mental health professional, and representatives from the local business and faith communities.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT GOALS:
We expect that our organization's leadership will need multiple skills to be successful. Thus, we will provide training for leaders and members in how to get information and resources regarding youth development, educational best practices, and issues affecting school success using the Internet, local library, and records from the city, county, and state government departments. We will develop relationships with key political and community leaders, including the school board and city government, who may be able to help implement a comprehensive school success plan or help change local policies. Leaders will learn how to present statistical and epidemiological data to lay people and to conduct effective information campaigns. All leaders will participate in diversity training to enhance appreciation of the contribution of ethnic differences to meeting group goals. Finally, we will invite faith and business leaders serving communities whose members have historically had less educational success to be involved in the organization to increase our effectiveness and relevance.
METHODS OF DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP:
We will try to teach leadership by the example we each set. In collaboration with the local library, we will conduct workshops to obtain needed research skills. We will bring in a facilitator from a nearby college to provide diversity training. Experts in the factors affecting educational success and what has increased success in similar communities will conduct information seminars. Leaders within the team who already have ties to political and community leaders will mentor other leaders on how to establish such relationships. Several members of the leadership team will spend time in exchanges with other local organizations that have experience conducting public information workshops and translating technical information into lay person's terms. These team members will learn more about these skills, and report back to the group about what they have learned. We will meet informally with leaders from organizations with goals similar to ours to learn from and with our peers. An annual two-day retreat at a nearby church camp will be used to help leaders reflect on how things are going and to restore themselves for this work.
SETTING LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT GOALS FOR INDIVIDUALS:
To develop capabilities in leadership and facilitation skills in all team members, we will rotate the leading of monthly meetings. We will also provide the opportunity and encourage each member to express one frustration and one accomplishment for which they are proud in the past month. Others will be encouraged to suggest ways of helping address the frustration. Different individuals will need to develop different leadership skills as the organization progresses. Leaders involved in working with volunteers will receive training in recruiting and managing volunteers from local agencies who rely on volunteers. Leaders involved in preparing communications-such as fact sheets on the relationship between high school completion and later economic success -will receive training in public information skills from local media and communications professionals. A volunteer from a nearby public relations firm will serve as a mentor in the social marketing campaign to encourage parents to become more involved in their children's educational success.
RECRUITING NEW MEMBERS:
We will seek to involve new members from the community who have experience in educating and lobbying, who are connected to families with school age children, and/or are connected to youth attended organizations. We will also reach out to individuals who have organized to address other issues in the community and have experience working in the community. Leaders from ethnic communities, including those from faith communities and neighborhood organizations, will be recruited to become part of the campaign. Representatives from all groups, especially parents with lots of ties in the community, will be actively recruited. Finally, we will pair youth from local high schools and middle schools with an adult mentor to help develop future generations of leadership for community work.
DEVELOPING ONESELF AS A LEADER:
To develop myself as a leader, I will meet at least monthly with each member of the leadership team to discuss how I can better support our common work. We will get together informally, such as for lunch or coffee, to get to know each other better. I will seek their support and guidance for problems that I face in my work. We will seek to trust each other to lead and follow through, and not require being involved with every part of the process. I will set aside time to reflect on how things are going, read about related ideas, and attend workshops and retreats on personal effectiveness. My goal is to balance my work with time for family, friends, and leisure in a principle-centered and healthy life.