(Too) many years ago, an author who had literally “written the book” returned a cold call from a newly minted academic dean who faced a dilemma. The new dean felt insecure about approaching the wise and kind head of school who had hired her (and who ultimately became a wonderful mentor). The author kindly let the dean know that he did, in fact, know who she was from her participation on a listserv to which they both contributed. His sage advice saved the day and, while I don’t remember the dilemma itself (yes, that was me!), what I do remember is feeling utterly alone and unsure of where to turn. Over time, I built a network of peers in similar roles via online forums, conference connections, and referrals. And, of course, I kept in touch with Peter…
When I share that story with others, many who have served as Academic Leaders recall the same worry: “How will I find my network?” While the associations serving independent schools are powerful forces for good, there is no one professional organization focused solely on the needs of Academic Leaders. That’s not just an anecdotal observation–in a study we commissioned with McKinley Advisors, 75% of the Academic Leaders surveyed agreed with the statement, “There’s no one organization that meets all my needs.”
Enter the Association for Academic Leaders, powered by One Schoolhouse. We’re thrilled to share that we have launched Academic Leaders to support all those whose work is strategically focused on teaching and learning beyond a single classroom. This includes academic administrators, division directors and department chairs.
As Academic Leaders ourselves, we did our homework first. We focused on two areas: deepening our understanding of those who serve as Academic Leaders, and better understanding the competencies they use to succeed.
Through our research into competency-based leadership and a series of focus groups with a diverse array of Academic Leaders, we developed a compelling collection of competencies. The features and benefits of the Association are designed and built to nurture and grow these competencies.
We’d love to know how these resonate with you as you consider your work in your school. Please consider leaving a comment to tell us what you think.
We believe that Academic Leaders need to live and model these competencies as they support their schools in delivering mission-aligned academic programs that fulfill the promise made to families enrolling their children. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more about what we’ve learned, both about competencies and about the Academic Leaders who embody them.
In a nutshell, this is the organization those of us building it wish we’d had when we were beginning our academic leadership careers. We’re honored to bring it to you.
Join Head of School Brad Rathgeber and Senior Director Sarah Hanawald at noon ET on Wednesday, February 9, as they share more information about the new Association for Academic Leaders, a professional organization devoted to championing Academic Leaders and meeting their needs by offering community, learning, and resources. Register here!
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)