Sustaining Leadership Capacity
Two schools have had a major influence on my personal experiences of school leadership, and therefore my thinking about leadership capacity: Bell Junior High School in Golden, Colorado, and San Jose Middle School in Novato, California. I taught at Bell during the 1970–71 school year, just before moving to California. Bell was based on strong teacher leadership and the principles of open communication, problem solving, shared decision making, and accountability. It worked well for everyone in the school community.
A decade later, from 1980 to 1984, I was principal of San Jose Middle School. Since 1984, every principal and assistant principal at San Jose has been chosen from among the teacher leaders within the school. One assistant principal became principal and then superintendent, and other teacher leaders became district administrators. Since leaving San Jose, I have deepened my understanding of (and sharpened my questions about) leadership capacity through experiences at the school, district, county, regional, and international levels. No question lingers more vividly in my imagination than, [How do we bring about sustainable school improvement?]
In Chapter 1, I noted that the district superintendent asked Jennifer how she would work with others to sustain high leadership capacity at Belvedere Middle School. This is how Jennifer replied:
The major aim of leadership capacity develop-
ment is sustained school improvement. Focused,
professional conversation about student learning