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On school leadership: An educator’s work is never done

I spoke with Paul Healey, president of ASCD and the superintendent of Bermudian Springs School District in York Springs, Pa., to get his advice on preparing for the new school year and how to be a leader in the education field. Healey has more than 33 years of experience in education and began as an elementary-school teacher before moving into administrator roles.

When it comes to getting ready for the start of a new school year, Paul Healey believes an educator’s work is never done.

“I think we’re always preparing for back to school,” he said recently, explaining that it is a yearlong process to “make sure students have an excellent first day, and then repeating that day.”

But with the pressures that today’s educators face, how can they make sure each day counts for students?

Healey strongly emphasizes the importance of reading, and encourages families to read together to help their children become lifelong learners.

“We all realize that school is only one part of a child’s life … the home is a critical player in helping children realize their full potential,” he said.

If parents and other family members work to teach their children good habits at home before school even begins, it helps to “solidify a vital partnership” between school and home, Healey said. That is also an important part of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, which aims to create a community environment where young people can be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.

Healey counts the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative among the most important ideas that education leaders should be promoting. In order to be a leader, Healey said, one must have a “vision, an ability to work with others to promote that vision … and must never settle or become stagnant.”

For those educators looking to make the leap from teaching to administration, Healey recommends shadowing an administrator before making the switch. He credited ASCD’s “established network of colleagues and mentors” with helping him to make the transition in his own career.

Another extremely useful resource that ASCD provides is a connection to a worldwide network of educators, which Healey says helps to provide a global perspective when making plans and solving problems. When he needed an answer to a question about his district’s policies for a Bring Your Own Technology program, Healey posted a query on ASCD EDge — the association’s free social networking platform — and “got answers from around the globe.”

Such interactions also allow educators to act as role models for students when it comes to using technology to participate in global communities and preparing to compete in a worldwide economy, Healey said.

“As educators, we need to model lifelong learning,” he said.

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