By Marcela Garcia, Assoc. Director of Governance & Board Leadership
It’s a new year—and with this comes realigning the energy we have to invest in ourselves and others. This includes our New Year resolutions to go back to the gym, spend more quality time with our loved ones, as well as to be more intentional with the use of our “free” time. As individuals who value service and community, it is of the utmost importance that we invest some time in service that is meaningful and rewarding. But let’s keep it real—this can be a challenge. Especially if you are new to board service, you might not know what to expect or how you will be connected. And even if you are seasoned, becoming jaded with the challenges of board service does happen.
So, as I put together on-boarding guides and manuals, and talk to Partner School board members, Board Corps members, and those contemplating board service, I reflect on the lessons that I have learned as we launch the third year of the Board Corps program.
Board Corps members who have already served at least a year were asked to share advice with other program participants during a pinning ceremony that we hosted to celebrate the milestone of having placed more than 50 Board Corps members on our Partner School boards. The advice they shared was very practical and can be categorized into three important areas.
Don’t stop learning
- Make the time to attend the ongoing education opportunities – PAVE’s training are first class and will benefit both you and the school.
- Be prepared to listen and learn, but don’t be afraid to participate. You have a lot to offer so don’t hold back.
- Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk.
Find ways to connect your intellect and heart to the mission of the school
- Patience and empathy will go a long way when working through conflicting ideas.
- Make sure you believe in the culture and mission of the school. Visit during the school day, get to know the teachers and students.
- Go into the process with an open mind and open heart.
- It takes time; schools can’t be turned around overnight.
- Be open to taking on new and different challenges that take you outside your comfort zone and allow you to grow!
- You’ll always get more out of it then you put in.
As we get re-energized, and find ways to make our work significant, it is important that we connect our intellect and heart to the work we do. How are you making this happen in 2015?
By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director
This morning, PAVE hosted more than 50 Milwaukee school leaders, board members, and community members at a panel discussion about Board Oversight of Academic Programming. Our three panelists are exceptional leaders and subject matter experts in the world of K-12 education:
Dr. Hughes, Dr. Hoben, Mr. Rauh
All of the panelists prefaced the discussion with an overview of their experiences and approaches to providing their boards with academic information (and what they expect them to do with that data), along with information about the different ways academic performance is being measured in today’s schools – WKCE vs. ACT vs. MAP, etc.
The group answered questions about the board’s involvement in boosting a school from good to great and what type of board support appropriately helps improve student achievement.
Themes that were consistent throughout the academic oversight discussion included conversation about culture and the importance of culture indicators together with academic performance measures (and how one influences the other), along with school leadership – how do you know you have the “right” leader?
Did you attend the panel discussion? If so, what were your biggest takeaways? Please leave a comment below.
If you’re a leader or a board member of a PAVE Partner School or a member of Board Corps who was not able to attend the event and would like access to the panel discussion podcast, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (The podcast will only be available to PAVE Partner Schools / Board Corps and other event attendees, but please follow PAVE on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for information about future events.)
By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director
I started working for PAVE nearly two years ago, when the organization was gearing up to launch Board Corps. Interviewing for a marketing and public relations position, I was prepared to answer some of the typical questions about how to get media exposure for the organization and what are my ideas for using social platforms, etc. But, the main focus of the interview was “How will you make ‘governance’ interesting?” This has been my guiding mantra ever since.
I was not extremely well-versed in “governance” when I started at PAVE and I vaguely understood it’s importance based on my interview, but now, nearly two years later, I’m truly a believer in governance done well, because I’ve seen how an effective and dedicated board of directors can transform a school’s leadership and create positive and sustainable change.
Have I accomplished the goal of making governance interesting? We’ve seen a great response to our recruitment efforts for Board Corps, so we’re clearly on the right path to explaining the important roles that governance and leadership have in improving and sustaining high-potential schools. But, I’m continuously working on it, along with the rest of my team. Part of the challenge is using language that is universally relate-able and doesn’t have skewed connotations (i.e. government). Equating governance with leadership, vision and oversight, as opposed to power, dictating and laws, helps to change the conversation about what a non-profit or school board of directors should be doing to champion the mission and achieve the vision of the organization.
Explaining what governance actually is, and showing through examples that it’s interesting and important, is an ongoing process of educating Milwaukee’s professional community and schools. It’s a goal that PAVE needs to continue focusing on in order to achieve our mission of making excellent educational opportunities possible for Milwaukee families. Stay tuned for many more posts about governance on The PAVE Blog…
What is your understanding of governance in a volunteer board setting? How have your professional experiences shaped your understanding of board leadership?