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The road to becoming a better leader requires facing challenges in order to discover strengths. With the backing of a supportive community and an unbreakable accountability system, that journey can result in a stronger and wiser leader.

That is just a peek into the leadership journey for this year’s cohort at K12’s third annual Grow Emerging Leader Summit, held at the company’s Herndon, Virginia headquarters earlier this month. Developed by K12’s Talent Development and Community team, the Grow Summit hosted a group of twenty aspiring Heads of Schools, Principals, Academic and Special Program Administrators, Family Academic Support Team (FAST) Administrators, and other leaders from across the country to refine their leadership skills.

The Grow Summit is designed to encourage collaboration and learning focused on “Growing for ImPACT,” emphasizing K12’s core values of Passion, Accountability, Courage and Trust (PACT). The Summit is an annual event, but the learning process begins well ahead of the leaders arriving in Herndon.

Prior to the summit, participants spend time building their leadership capacity using Skillsoft leadership curriculum, synchronous sessions led by the Talent Development and Community team, engaging with members of their Grow Personal Learning Community, and working on several projects that connect their learning to leadership fundamentals.

Megan Evans and Sheila Stevens are two aspiring heads of schools who were paired as accountability partners throughout the process. They call themselves the Dynamic Duo as they learned from one another’s unique experiences.

“We became quite close as we supported each other through the process, holding each other accountable for completing things and remembering to get things done,” said Evans, who serves as an Elementary School Principal for California Virtual Academies.

“Entering the program, I wanted to gain more knowledge and learn new skills. I think as leaders, we’re always growing and for me personally, I love to learn, and I want to learn from others,” said Stevens, Colorado Preparatory Academy’s High School Academic Administrator.

The week-long summit is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and was jam-packed with resources, guidance and words of encouragement from K12 leadership. James Rhyu, K12’s Chief Financial Officer and President, Product and Technology, shared with the group his core principles of effectiveness. The group walked away with many insights that sparked further discussions. Rhyu emphasized the importance of writing down your goals, which led to every person capturing their five-year goal on paper.

Kevin P. Chavous, K12’s President of Academics, Policy and Schools, stopped by with a warm welcome for the group. “I get excited about being around people who’ve dedicated their lives to helping our kids,” Chavous said. “All children will either rise or fall based on the expectations you put on them and if they feel like you don’t believe in them, they will fail. So be ambassadors.”

Attendees agreed that opportunities like the Grow Summit allow them to share ideas and expand their networks for the work to be done in their own school communities. “This is where we see the biggest ‘a-ha’ moment for the participants,” said Brandi Maynard, Senior Manager of Professional Development and Training. “They’re able to take all the pieces they’ve learned, internalize what they have built, and apply it to their own schools so that every child will grow academically each year.” 

To learn more about the Talent Development and Community team and leadership programs, like the Grow program, follow TDC on twitter at @k12leaders