SLN Banner Feb09
  Network Connect
Volume 2, Issue 1  

  The School Leaders Network Newsletter

Spring 2009  
Greetings to all SLN Facilitators and Network Members, 
With the excitement of the election and the challenges of the economy, this year has been a busy one for all of us. Here at the national office, we have completed our strategic planning process identifying new opportunities to serve you and your networks. Our focus for the future will be on developing local investment and ownership of each network across the country so that the rigorous collegial work can be sustained, providing significant impact for kids.
We are proud to roll out our new logo with this newsletter. Our new website address, which more accurately reflects and describes our purpose, is When our new website is finished, we hope it will be a great resource and tool for everyone for networking, research, facilitator training, SLN methodology, and inspiration! for all of you and for our existing and potential funding sources. 
Programmatically, we have been studying the work of leadership networks across the country and thinking about different models for serving you in your role as leaders. This study has revealed the significant potential in an "inquiry model".  We are also considering integrating Harvard professor Richard Elmore's "medical rounds" model into our overall process. I know you will be interested in exploring this "value added" model and its relevance to our work with children and schools; this issue features an overview to get you acquainted with his approach.
This newsletter, distributed four times a year, is designed to keep you posted on what's new with the School Leaders Network throughout the country.  Today, together we serve over 550 school leaders nationwide, which means almost a million children are receiving the benefit of quality leadership in their schools as a result of your participation in the School Leaders Network.
Thank you for your hard work and commitment to creating excellence in education for all children.
Best wishes,

The Research:  Diagnosing Instructional Leadership

What if principals acted like doctors diagnosing learning challenges in the same way a doctor diagnoses a disease? Imagine one principal presenting the learning problem and proposed treatments for his or her particular school to his or her network. Imagine then all fifteen members of the network visiting the presenting principal's school observing classrooms and discussing issues of instructional practice. A debrief would follow where the network shares their findings supporting the presenting principal as he or she crafts his or her treatment to solve this problem of instructional practice.

This is the basic vision of Dr. Richard Elmore's medical rounds model which will be featured in his new book by the Harvard Press, Instructional Rounds in Education:  A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning. The drive of the book is to improve instructional practices in schools by helping education leaders develop a shared understanding of what high-quality instruction looks like and what schools and districts need to do to support it.  The research highlighted in this book comes largely from the Connecticut Superintendents Network, a high functioning network that works to improve the instructional leadership of superintendents through the use of this model.

Elmore's research with "instructional rounds" is the foundational component for his vision for networks.  Yet, he sees a professional network as a way to model instructional leadership.  As he asserts "What we have tried to do with professional networks is to focus on their development of a body of professional practice - tangible behaviors, protocols, structures and processes - that model what instructional leadership might look like. 

To learn more about Elmore's Instructional Rounds Google the "School Administrator:  Professional Networks and School Improvement."

Network Spotlight 
Building Capacity in the Capital

"What could be more important than providing opportunities through professional contacts to enhance one's leadership capacity?"  This is the question asked in the latest article published by our very own Albany-Capital Region network in the School Administrators of New York State Journal.  These eighteen principals came together as a network to write an article sharing with others the power of their experience with their own community of practice.  The article talks about the merit of networks to support leaders and transform schools.
The Albany-Capital Network includes principals from urban, suburban and rural K-12 schools that serve students from both under- and well-resourced communities. This community of leaders includes Blue Ribbon School principals, an author, Principals of the Year and other award winning principals. One of the featured principals commented on the benefit of this diversity in the SAANYS article.  "There are many times I get to observe and hear thoughts that are unique and a perspective I may not have thought of.  I appreciate the new eyes of others."

The Albany-Capital Facilitator who leads this group is a retired principal of excellence, who herself created a Blue Ribbon School, Rachelle Salerno.  Speaking of her network she says, "We have impacted our entire region. We have a waiting list of principals who want to participate. As a facilitator,  I feel privileged to work with such a fine group of principals."

Upcoming Events
Facilitators Jesse Dingle and Denise Tillery from two networks in Raleigh, North Carolina will be presenting the SLN program model at the NAESP 88th Annual Convention and Exposition in New Orleans. The presentation will take place at 1:30pm on Saturday April 4th.  If you happen to be at NAESP, stop by and take this opportunity to connect with the Network.

Contact Information
Elizabeth Neale, Executive Director
1100 East Washington Road
Hinsdale, Massachusetts 01235

In This Issue
The Research
Network Spotlight
Member Spotlight

SLN Banner Feb09
7 Habits + 1 Muriel
by Jody Roy
Program Director, School Leaders Network
As we rushed into a packed conference hall with over 3,000 National Staff Development Council (NSDC) educators from across the country, I searched for a familiar face. There I found many network facilitators including the New York crew: Ada Dolch, Rachelle Salerno and Judi Tarlo. But one of our facilitators was not crowded around a small dark table, but was instead featured onstage with the eminent Stephen Covey. It was Muriel Summers.

Muriel joined the School Leaders Network two years ago as a participant in David Ansbacher and Denise Tillery's network. Within a year Muriel formed her own network with co-facilitator Jesse Dingle and the support of the Triangle Leadership Academy. Muriel has been able to share her facilitative leadership approach within the school community and continues to drive change for leaders in her own network and beyond.

At that NSDC luncheon, with the big screens and the mega microphone, Muriel stole the show. Her personal stories of using Covey's framework with her school, her community and her students captivated the audience. She truly modeled what it means to be a transformative leader.

Muriel is the principal of the first leadership elementary school in the nation, A. B. Combs. Her work with the school community has resulted in over 97% of the students performing at or above grade level on statewide assessments. During her eleven year tenure, she has guided her school in receiving numerous awards including the National School of Character, one of only ten schools across the United States, to receive this very prestigious award. Muriel's school has been designated the 'top magnet school in the country".

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