306 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501
Event helps motivate board members, administrators for new school year
More than 450 school board members and administrators attended the 2009 ASBSD and SASD Convention, prepared to develop leadership for change in South Dakota’s schools. An additional batch of exhibitors and approximately 60 awards luncheon guests helped pack the Sioux Falls Convention Center August 6 and 7.
The convention’s location and set-up were a positive for many attendees, but it was what school leaders were able to take home that made convention a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Chester Area School Board Member Janet Park has attended 10 or 11 joint conventions, she estimated.
“I think it’s a great experience to meet different people and discuss what’s going on in each other’s schools, because you learn a lot from that too,” she said. “You can always take things back with you.”
Chuck Welke, Warner School District secondary principal, and his board and administrator group attended the Deuel School District’s presentation, “The Four-Day Week: Is it Right for Today’s Education?” The Warner district has been discussing the possibility of moving to a four-day school week, Welke said, and it was valuable to hear the experience of a district that made the switch.
Attendees of the 2009 ASBSD & SASD Convention browse exhibits at the Sioux Falls Convention Center August 6 to learn about the latest products and services.
“That’s how it starts,” Welke said. “You listen to other people that have done it. It’s good for the board and sometimes they’re the ones who come back with the ideas.”
Networking at convention went beyond board members discussing topics with other board members and administrators hashing out issues with other administrators. The opportunity for boards and administrators to learn and work together is increasingly valuable.
“It’s important to have people come together, who have common goals for the success of the schools and students, to hear some of the same speakers and then interact with each other and share ideas,” explained Colleen Lecy, elementary principal with Rapid City Catholic Schools.
Welke expressed similar sentiments, explaining that it was helpful for board members to see how administrators’ thought processes and responsibilities and vice versa.
Assisting attendees in creating goals for the school year and the future and then motivating them to stick to those plans was the job of the convention keynote speakers Jim Brazell, Murray Banks, and Dr. Kent Keith.
Roni Betik, a Custer School District board member, said she found Jim Brazell's general session to be thought-provoking.
"It was interesting to hear the movement away from the thinking of two different paths of education - college-bound versus technical," she said.
Oahe Special Ed Coop Director Fred Carpenter said the session illustrated the belief that "there's a place for everyone to be educated."
The second speaker, Murray Banks, had convention attendees rolling in the aisles with his refreshing and humorous take on leadership. To close out the conference, Dr. Kent Keith helped board members and administrators feel validated in their roles as servant leaders.
Lecy said she attended both Banks' and Keith's break-out sessions and found the speakers' messages beneficial.
"There were lots of ideas for self-reflection and it was good timing to prepare for the coming school year," she said.
There were also opportunities for reflection and learning during convention's break-out sessions, which were timely for board members adapting to the state's new mandatory attendance to 18 law, open records changes, and other shifts.
Meade School District Board Member Kathy Behrens attended both sessions focusing on the High School 2025 initiative. The two-time convention attendee saw most of the sessions in the student achievement track.
"I think the more training board members get the better board members they can be," she explained. "Statistics show that better board members have better schools, that’s why I like to come to as much training as possible."
This year's ASBSD and SASD Convention featured more than 30 issue-oriented breakout sessions. A list of the 2009 convention break-out sessions and speakers, divided by issue track, can be found at the ASBSD web site.