Deepening the Concept
In 1998, teacher Jennifer Fielding was attracted by the energy and innovations at Belvedere Middle School, across town from where she worked. That fall she asked for and received an indistrict transfer to the school. As soon as she arrived, however, she was disappointed: the principal had left, preliminary reforms had failed to materialize, and naysayers had gained new prominence. It looked as though the school would soon revert to its old ways.
The new principal, John Trevor, and a few strong teacher leaders responded wisely. After careful thought and assessment, Principal Trevor saw that his challenge was to reaffirm and build on the reforms that had begun, break through the barriers inhibiting further progress and change, and assure staff that he would remain until plans were well implemented. Rather than reclaim the authority that had been shared, he would work as a peer to move the school to the next level of development.
By the early spring of 1999 Belvedere was on strong footing again, having weathered lost momentum and flagging spirits. The school possessed many of the features of high leadership capacity: broad-based, skillful participation; a shared vision; established norms of inquiry and collaboration; reflective practice; and improving student achievement. Jennifer became a rapt student of leadership, working closely with the principal and teacher and parent leaders. By the fall of 2000, she had entered the leadership preparation program at her local university
In the summer of 2001, Principal Trevor decided to accept an assistant superintendency in a nearby district. The superintendent of Belvedere's district called Jennifer and asked her to pay him a visit; he wanted to see if she was