Board of School Superintendents to Offer First National Leadership Development Program for School Superintendents

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BOSS Develops School Superintendent's leadership through cohort learning and coaching. Aligning with Secretary Duncan's challenge that we must learn and grow given the demands on leadership in education.

BOSS Elevates Students by Elevating Leaders

"The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde

Board of School Superintendents (BOSS) announces a national campaign to bring sustainable reform in education through the development of executive level leaders, assisting them with the professional discipline, skills and support to drive change and improve student outcomes.

"All of us, teachers, principals and superintendents, have to continue to learn and grow. With demands on us growing and resources shrinking we can't just work harder, we have to work smarter and more effectively," says Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan.

“Board of School Superintendents is the only national organization focusing exclusively on the development of active school superintendents,” says Gary Cohen the organization’s CEO. “Given the the high stakes in education today and the enormous amount of dollars spent on professional development for teachers and principals, it is simply neglectful to ignore the executive development needs of Superintendents,” remarks Dr. Mark Wolak, the firm’s President and former school superintendent. Cohen adds, “When we decided to launch BOSS we committed ourselves to finding the rock stars of Superintendents nationally and to provide those change leaders with the executive development and support to improve educational outcomes in America’s schools.”

BOSS is a national organization (born in Minnesota) dedicated to serving active School Superintendents only. BOSS supports Superintendents to expand their leadership capacity, refine their leadership skills, and support them as they make necessary changes in the school system they serve. BOSS organizes, leads and sustains superintendent cohort learning across the nation. Cohort members compare and learn from one another as they experience the power of national networking with the top superintendents in the country.

“Some people struggle with the concept that a highly compensated public official needs executive development and support. It is more common to spend money to support a teacher, not some highly compensated administrator,” says Cohen. Dr. Wolak adds, “We believe that we are at a crossroads in public education. Together, we commit to develop the executive district leaders we need, or we continue to under-perform as a public education system and risk becoming obsolete. This is no different than the flight attendant asking you in an emergency to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping your child. Many of our school districts are in a state of emergency and need the oxygen we call “executive leadership development”. The question is; will our superintendents and school boards do the right thing and ask BOSS for help?

Superintendents often possess a strong set of technical skills that have been effective at managing schools. Today, however, the Superintendent is faced with leading school boards, staff and communities through difficult, ambiguous, and sometimes treacherous situations in order to improve outcomes for learners. Many school leaders earned their experience and promotions from within the education system and have limited knowledge and experience for leading adaptive change in a context of reform. Instead, superintendents often find themselves making decisions based on expediency, political need, limited knowledge, complacency, isolation or fear. BOSS Leadership Pedagogy addresses this directly through an established professional discipline and a bias for informed leadership action.

BOSS was formed by Dr. Mark Wolak and Gary Cohen. Mark Wolak spent 34 years in public education, recently serving eight years as a School Superintendent in Minnesota. In 2007, he was recognized as the Richard Green Scholar by Minnesota Association of School Administrators. Wolak serves as national consultant in leadership and leadership development. Gary Cohen is a successful serial entrepreneur, author of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask The Right Questions(McGraw Hill 2009) and co-founder of CO2 Partners, a leadership development firm. Cohen is an Aspen Institute Crown Fellow. The two founders have dedicated their careers to helping others be great leaders.

Dr. Donald Draayer, AASA National Superintendent of the Year, 1990 recently commented on Board of School Superintendents when he wrote, “Recent arrivals and newcomers to the superintendent position must master the learning curve quickly not only to survive but to be successful change agents. Demands on superintendents are instantaneous from the first day on the job, and they are unrelenting thereafter.

When I retired as a school superintendent after 45 years,” he continued, “one of my ideas for putting my experience to good use was to become a mentor to new superintendents and others who had recently moved into this most challenging position in all of E-12 education. That was one of services I included, and most relished, within my new role as an educational consultant. “What was missing in my thinking,” Draayer continues, “was a grand design: one that would link together in a personalized, systematized, and relational way all those who can benefit from change agent mentoring with those who already have such a knowledge, skill, value, and experiential base. Board of Superintendents (BOSS), in my judgment, provides that grand design better than all other options I have studied.”

“There are plenty of great social entrepreneurs, government hot shots and educators focused on what the curriculum should be, what it means to be a great teacher and how principals can continue to improve their leadership. For some odd reason folks think these changes will hold without outstanding leadership at the top of the organization, according to those close to Gary. Mark is emphatic that, “the change must first happen at the top.”

Mark says, “We see School Superintendents as great educators and schooled to become outstanding Chief Learning Officers. The issue is that the role is rarely that! “ Cohen continues, “We decided we would change the game and help them (School Superintendents) become world class Chief Executive Officers of their districts and provide unmatched leadership training, masterful coaching, cohort learning and a tight national fellow network for those who are open to improve the way they lead.”

“Most organizations when they come to scale try to do it neatly deciding which state or market should be dominated, not us”, says Cohen. “We will grow based on where we find the absolute best retired or soon to be retiring school superintendents.” Wolak adds, “We are looking for the education rock stars, those that led great educational achievement and successes in their career. We see these great leaders as the foundation for the success of Board of School Superintendents (BOSS). We call these Best of School Superintendents, Board Chairs; they are the ones that will help lead our revolution.”

Wolak and Cohen urge those who may have an interest in changing the education system, to elevate School Superintendents to become more effective leaders, to reach out to BOSS. Wolak, made himself clear by saying, “This is not a remedy or quick fix but a means for the best to get even better. BOSS is a professional discipline with an unwaivering focus on that which is most important to the Superintendency today, LEADERSHIP!”

BOSS Fellows (the participants) will join a peer group cohort and receive specialized coaching and mentoring to help them lead the system changes for improved productivity and quality. Fellows receive 80 hours of high-powered consultation, coaching and mentoring from experienced and skilled leaders. The comprehensive development program includes 64 hours of cohort learning, monthly coaching sessions, teleconferences, national webinars, and access to a network of active superintendents engaged in advanced learning through case-study methodology. Fellows have access to a national repository of implementation studies and evidence-based practices. Completion of 240 hours of cohort learning earns national certification from Board of School Superintendents.

If you would like more information about Board of School Superintendents please go to http://www.bossleadership.com or call 612-204-2044. Board of School Superintendents (BOSS) strategic mission is to ‘Elevate Learners by Elevating Leaders’. BOSS is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and founded by Gary B. Cohen and Dr. Mark A. Wolak.

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Gary B. Cohen
Board of School Superintendents
612-204-2044
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Dr. Mark A. Wolak
Board of School Superintendents
612-204-2044
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