Banji Judge, a principal of the blended learning program at Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA), loves her job. But she has dreams of doing even more. So this year, like dozens of other school leaders across the country, Banji traveled to an annual Grow Emerging Leader Summit at the K12 headquarters in Herndon to help make that dream, a reality.
“The summit will allow us to take the skillsets we need to be Heads of Schools and empower us along the way,” she said.
Judge was one of 57 participants at this year’s Grow Emerging Leader Summit, which took place from February 4 – 7. The yearly summit is designed to give school leaders the resources and tools they need to help their fellow colleagues and students thrive.
The conference welcomed not only aspiring Heads of Schools, but also aspiring administrators—all of whom were selected because of their recognized leadership potential. This arrangement is different from the previous year because aspiring administrators provide aspiring Heads of Schools with an opportunity for mentorship.
“Iron sharpens iron and offering high potential employees the chance to be around bright people committed to student success really opens up a flood gate of opportunities,” said Dr. Brandi Maynard, senior manager of professional development and training. “This learning experience is designed to provide emerging leaders ample opportunities for continuous growth and improvement within a safe environment.”
During the summit, K12 senior executives from across the company also urged participants to identify their leadership traits, establish trust within their networks, and use effective communication, all while upholding K12’s values.
Some aspiring Heads of Schools even shared their expertise by giving presentations on topics in their areas of strength during the event’s “Share Fair.” Some topics included tips on using data in the classroom, delivering effective feedback, and strategies to empower students.
Judge put a unique twist on her presentation by relating characters from “The Wizard of Oz” to K12’s values, while discussing ways of fostering a positive academic culture. She also placed golden jeweled eggs on everyone’s desk, with a clever surprise for them inside.
When attendees opened their egg, they were pleased to find a compact mirror and a message from Judge: “Look at yourself and know that it is in you! You have everything you need to be successful.”
This was a sentiment that left everyone feeling proud of their accomplishments.
Aspiring Head of School Stacy Altman, director of special services at Pikes Peak Online School (PPOS), shared a solutions-focused approach to handling difficult situations. Her driving message for her peers was to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
For Jessica Lecertua, a counselor at Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA) and aspiring administrator, Altman’s presentation really resonated.
“My biggest takeaway was building the courage to face my fears when having difficult conversations, and being able to implement that into my role,” Lecertua said.
With the theme “Growing for imPACT,” the Talent Development and Community team had always envisioned cultivating a safe place for aspiring school leaders to grow their impact when it came to their students, and this year’s results could not have been any better.
“Attendees walked away with a wealth of knowledge, a network of connections, and a renewed sense of purpose to bring change to their schools,” said Veronica Clemons, senior director of leadership development.
“This is our investment in you,” she told participants. “Embrace what you have learned and maintain the relationships you have made. Being able to call upon members of your cohort is important. Think about your aspirations and what you want to do and take the time to reflect on you.”
~ To learn more about this year’s Grow Emerging Leader Summit, click here to listen to an original song by Karl Safe, an aspiring administrator and English teacher at Insight School of Oklahoma (ISOK).