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Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume I, Issue 1 2012 A Tale of Two Journeys Jana Garner, Principal, Forney ISD What happens when a personal leadership journey coincides with a district’s journey to develop a tool for ensuring equity? Share the experience of my parallel journey as I learned the value of empowerment, collaboration, and teamwork. When a district experiences rapid growth, one of the critical areas of focus for a superintendent and administrators is the issue of consistency between schools and equity for all students. This was a concern in our North Texas district after the student population grew from 2000 to 8000 in a short period of time during the recent housing boom. District leaders were careful to monitor equity in facilities and programs between schools. After all, stakeholders tend to notice when playgrounds, computer labs, and athletic programs differ drastically from one campus to another. As new campuses opened and new staff members came on board, another critical area of consistency became apparent. Student work needed to be assessed and reported in a similar manner at all schools to ensure equity for all students. The superintendent recognized the need for a grading/reporting handbook for teachers. At the same time district leaders began to address the need for clear guidelines for grading and reporting, I was entering into a superintendent internship program. After a period of professional growth and learning, I was ready to develop leadership skills on the district level. When the superintendent suggested that I research grading handbooks as an internship project, my leadership goals and an important district goal began to merge. The result was an incredible opportunity to explore the values of empowerment, collaboration, and team-building. This article is the story of two parallel journeys. As I facilitated our district’s 18-month journey to define a philosophy of grading and reporting and develop a set of guidelines, I was also experiencing a personal journey of leadership growth. Along the way, I applied the skills I had learned from professional development training and university coursework to model the superintendent competencies. These skills proved to be the key to creating and sustaining a meaningful experience for colleagues while developing a worthwhile product. Gathering Information / Building Networking Skills (Superintendent Competency 010-b: The superintendent knows how to implement processes for gathering, analyzing, and using data for informed decision making.) In order to begin the process of developing our own grading/reporting manual, we needed to obtain and analyze similar manuals from other districts across the state. Instead of being a simple process of looking at samples on district websites, I soon learned that those types of procedural manuals are not published online, and I would have to make contact with district administrators in order to view them or obtain a copy. Cold-calling top level district personnel was not likely to - 60 -

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JTWSE—Volume 1  

JTWSE—Volume 1  

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