District Leadership Fellows Discuss Enhancing the Superintendent – School Board Relationship

Program alum Dr. Chris Moran shared his wisdom on effectively working with school boards.

Headshot
Dr. Chris Moran, Superintendent, Whitehouse ISD

At a recent cohort meeting, Dr. Chris Moran, Superintendent of Whitehouse ISD, shared his experiences in enhancing the superintendent – school board relationship.  Drawing on his 30 years in education, including 11 as a school superintendent, Dr. Moran shared with fellows his 10 Commandments for Board Superintendent Relations:

I am the Board, your boss, you should have no strange goals before me
Take the time needed to work with the board to develop a strong strategic plan so everyone is working towards the same shared goals.

Don’t take the name of the board, your boss, in vain
It is so important that the board knows that you respect and value them.  You can do that by investing time with them.

Remember to keep holy the board’s day
Board meeting days, and days leading up to board meetings, should be time to focus and ensure the board meeting is a successful and pleasant experience.  Prepare the board well in advance of big agenda items, starting months in advance if needed.

Honor your Board of Trustees members
Never say a disparaging word about a board member to anyone.  You can be sure it will resurface if you do.

You should not kill your future by picking battles you should not fight
Pick your battles wisely and be a consistent leader.

Don’t commit unfaithful acts against your board
As superintendent you are always on the clock. Dress and act like the superintendent they hired you to be at all times.

Don’t steal the credit
Give credit when credit is due.  Make time daily to give encouragement and recognition to someone in your district.

Don’t bear false witness against your board
Give only solid and accurate information to the board.  Hiding or shading information will ruin trust and destroy relationships.

Don’t covet other people to serve on the board
Serve the board you are given, just bloom where you are planted with the board you have.

Don’t covet your neighbor board’s operating procedures
Develop your district operating procedures with the board, so everyone is on board with the ground rules.

These 10 items provided a basis for the discussion that followed.  Fellows shared their experiences and discussed how to best apply the points raised by Dr. Moran, and others, in their own districts.  Collaboration with peers is one of the key components of the District Leadership Fellows program, and this session provided a great demonstration of that process in action.  

Interested in building your professional network and collaborating with peers?  Apply to join the next cohort.   Click here to learn more and click here to apply.   

 To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

Creating Impact Serves as Cornerstone of District Leadership Fellows Program

“The District Leadership Fellows Impact Model has been very beneficial for me. It gives me a way to distill big ideas into something that is very concise and easier to communicate.”  Dr. John Tackett, 2020-2021 cohort alum

 

Dr. Eric Bing working with District Leadership Fellows
Dr. Eric Bing facilitating a group discussion with District Leadership Fellows

The District Leadership Fellows program at SMU, designed for school superintendents and executive district leaders, focuses on creating impact.  Each Fellow enters the program with a leadership project they wish to accomplish over the course of the year.  Early cohort sessions introduce the Impact Model, an organizational framework for thinking through the project, communicating the project to others, and executing the project. Later cohort and coaching sessions offer support and collaboration as Fellows implement their Impact Models.

 

Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent of Throckmorton Collegiate ISD and District Leadership Fellows alum, sat down the Dr. Eric G. Bing, Director of the Institute for Leadership Impact, to talk through the Impact Model and how it helped her achieve goals in her district.  Learn more about her experience in this video.

Interested in joining the next cohort and creating impact in your district?  Click here to learn more and click here to apply

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

2021-2022 Cohort of District Leadership Fellows Celebrate Program Completion

Gratitude, conviction, execution, growth, intentional, accountable and open are words the 2021-2022 cohort will embody as they move forward on their leadership journey.  

Headshots of 27 District Leadership Fellows, 2021-2022 Cohort

At the final meeting of the 2021-2022 cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program, Fellows had the opportunity to celebrate their successes and reflect on their mission and journey.  Fellows read back through their initial thoughts on their mission, and reflected on whether those sentiments still spoke to them.  They had the opportunity to reaffirm or modify their mission, and to talk through how they might strengthen the alignment between their actions and mission to make their work more meaningful and impactful.   

Headshot
Dr. Debbie Atwell, Superintendent, Mountainburg Public Schools

Dr. Debbie Atwell began the discussion on the cohort’s leadership journeys by speaking on her passion for her work in Mountainburg Public Schools. The cohort then reflected on their own leadership journeys, what they will take with them as they move forward, and how they have grown as leaders.   
 
Congratulations to the 2021-2022 cohort of District Leadership Fellows!  We are proud of you and wish you continued success and growth on your leadership journeys. 

Interested in joining the next cohort to develop your leadership skills?  Click here to learn more and click here to apply.   

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

2022 Battle to Save Lives, a Global and Public Health Case Competition, Returns In-person

The seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition was presented by students in Dr. Eric G. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global and Public Health course

Students presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

On April 12, over seventy people gathered to watch SMU’s seventh annual Battle to Save Lives, a global and public health case competition. The event was introduced by Dean Stephanie Knight, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and featured five teams of students from SMU professor Eric G. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course.  Each team presented their best strategies to solve real-life challenges. Attendees included SMU alums, current students, faculty, staff, and community members who helped the judges select the winning team at the end of the competition.

Two of the teams presented on the case of the Kalita Humpreys Theater, developing strategies to improve the connectivity and engagement with the African American and Hispanic population as well as the physical accessibility of the theater.  Three teams presented their case on the West Dallas STEM School, proposing plans to develop a learning garden at the school to increase student interest in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

You can watch a video summary of each team’s proposal here, and read more below.

Judges at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The judges were:

  • Ms. Dionne Davis, Manager of Foundation and Government Relations at the Dallas Theater Center, and co-leader of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • Ms. Hilda Rodriguez, Advisory Board for Renovation of Kalita Humpreys Theater
  • Mr. Wes Keyes, Executive Director of Brother Bills’ Helping Hands
  • Mr. Chris Luna, Vice President, Legal Affairs at T-Mobile US, Inc.
  • Ms. Rikki Schramm, Environmental Education Teacher at the Dallas ISD STEM Environmental Education Center

Case 1: Kalita Humphrey’s Theater

Team Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The two Kalita Humpreys Theater teams presented their plans to improve the physical accessibility as well as the connectivity of the Kalita Humpreys Theater in Turtle Creek overall by 25% and by African Americans and Hispanics 50% within the next 2 years. Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future,’ started the night by presenting their solutions of increasing visibility of the theater by bringing the theater to the audience and providing online-streaming options of the theater plays, hosting culturally relevant events, such as a Freedom Walk where patrons could take a 35-minute walk from the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, a nearby Dallas Theater Center, to the Kalita Humpreys Theater while viewing scenes of a play along the walk. Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future,’ included Bretton Laboret, Bria’ Merchant, Cici Santos, Alex Smith, and Alexandra Yeager, and was coached by Yolette Garcia.

Team Unearthing the Jewel presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

Team ‘Unearthing the Jewel’ took a slightly different approach, beginning their presentation with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) that demonstrated and acknowledged the existing strengths and efforts taken by the theater toward increasing community connectivity. The team suggested building on top of the existing efforts by hosting in-person talkbacks, which would be led by the current full-time staff members to minimize cost, and attracting patrons and foot traffic to the theater through investing in a mural art wall.  Team ‘Unearthing the Jewel’ included Imani Holmes, Taylor Jeske, Brooke Koritala, Joseph Lee, Lauren Small, and Joann Yang, and was coached by Collin Yarbrough.

After each presentation, judges were able to ask the team questions.  Following the second presentation, the judges and audience voted and Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future’ was awarded the win.

Case 2: West Dallas STEM School

Team Learning Garden Flower STEMS presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The second part of the night included three teams of students presenting their strategies for developing a Learning Garden at the West Dallas STEM School (WDSS) that is intended to increase STEM-related knowledge relevant to the learning objectives for the State of Texas, and interest in the STEM-related fields among children attending the school.  Team ‘Learning Garden Flower STEMS’ captured the audience’s attention as they began by asking the audience to imagine that they are six years old and in the shoes of these children who will soon get to plant and grow their own plants right in their schoolyard. The team planned to meet the goal by creating learning stations and experimental tables near the garden as well as recruiting volunteers from organizations such as UT Southwestern and the Perot Museum to give speeches and STEM talks to the children. Team ‘Learning Garden Flower STEMS’ included Cole Deal, James Gullett, Belleza Mitchell, Deemah Pulak, and Nushah Rahman and was coached by Amit Sharma and Lucy Weiss.

Team Nurturing Seeds presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

The second team, Team ‘Nurturing Seeds’ suggested having a salad garden and a pollinator garden that are ADA accessible.  This team shared their plans of collecting data through surveys and test scores of the students on their schoolwork to measure the efficacy of their plan. They also emphasized the importance of developing a learning garden by mentioning research studies that found students to learn better outdoors compared to traditional indoor classroom settings. Team ‘Nurturing Seeds,’ included Hannah Andrews, Carlisle Dunnam, Hannah Jacobs, Nancy Le, and Brooke Shepherd, and was coached by Marc Sager.

Team Digging Deeper presenting at the 2022 Battle to Save Lives

Lastly, Team ‘Digging Deeper’ began with the big picture by sharing with the audience the importance of increasing STEM interest of children at the WDSS. They specifically mentioned the continuing cycle of the racial disparity in the STEM field with low numbers of minority students pursuing a career in STEM fields. Focusing on maximizing STEM learning and outdoor learning, the team suggested increasing STEM knowledge through having role models that could bring to the students a sense of belonging and focused attention, in addition to an outdoor learning space by the garden. This team also discussed the expansion possibilities of the learning garden at the school as well as the replicability of the project to other schools across the world.  Team ‘Digging Deeper, included Eliana Abraham, James Chamberlain, Kaitlyn Gearin, Kyle Kavrazonis, and Thomas Truong, and was coached by Shelly Potter.

Team Digging Deeper presenting to the SMU President, Provost and Simmons School of Education and Human Development Executive Board

After each presentation, judges were able to ask the team questions.  Following the third presentation, the judges and audience voted and Team ‘Team ‘Digging Deeper’ was awarded the win.  Following the competition, Team ‘Digging Deeper’ presented their case to the SMU President, Provost and Simmons School of Education and Human Development Executive Board, showcasing the work of students in the Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course.

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

Students Begin Preparing for The Seventh Annual Battle to Save Lives Case Competition

For the seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition, students in the Creating Impact in Global and Public Health course are developing strategies for the West Dallas STEM School and The Dallas Theater Center. 

Dr. Eric Bing sharing the project charges with the class

Students in Dr. Eric G. Bing’s course Creating Impact in Global and Public Health are developing strategies to assist the West Dallas STEM School and The Dallas Theater Center in the seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition.  Five teams of students will present their cases to a panel of judges with the audience having the opportunity to help select the winning team. 

The project charge for teams working with the West Dallas STEM School is to develop a strategy to assist Brother Bill’s Helping Hands in creating a Learning Garden at the school. Students must consider foundational items such as choosing a location of the garden and the approximate number of students the garden can serve.  Additional topics such as the sustainability of the garden and the type of data to collect in order to monitor the effectiveness of the project in increasing STEM knowledge also need to be considered.  

The project charge for teams working with The Dallas Theater Center focuses on strengthening community connectivity and access to the Katita Humpreys Theater in Turtle Creek.  One aspect is to develop a plan that improves access for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles while improving traffic safety and reducing the potential for congestion on the adjoining Katy Trail and surrounding streets.  A second aspect is to increases connectivity, access and use by the diverse North Texas community, increasing overall patronage as well as patronage by the African American and Hispanic communities. 

Join us on April 12th to see the innovative plans the student teams present! 

Event Details
Date: April 12, 2022
Time:  5:30pm to 8:30pm 
Location: Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall Room 138,
3101 University Blvd Suite 138, Dallas, TX 75205
Guests: Welcome in-person, face masks required
Parking: Information available here

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

SMU Students Use Mixed-Reality Simulation to Practice Communication Skills

SMU students practiced essential communication skills with Mursion, an immersive simulation assisted by Artificial Intelligence.

An SMU student practices Active Listening using the Mursion simulation environment.
An SMU student practices Active Listening using the Mursion simulation environment.

Students in Dr. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health class have been practicing their communication skills in a number of different settings including an in-class debate.  Recently they worked with an immersive simulation called Mursion.   At the end of the semester, they will combine their communication skills and class knowledge in a Battle to Save Lives.   

 The Center for VR Learning Innovation at SMU includes the Mixed-Reality Simulation Lab which hosts the Mursion simulation.  The Mursion simulation allows individuals to practice difficult and stressful conversations by staging interactions between learners and virtual avatars. The simulation has been shown to be effective in building communication skills due to its high level of realism and feedback provided by the program and provides a valuable learning experience for anyone looking to improve their interpersonal communication skills.  

 Using the Mursion simulation, students practiced Active Listening using OARS and Motivational Interviewing. OARS is built upon Open-Ended Questions, Affirmation, Reflective Listening, and Summary. Motivational Interviewing is built upon collaboration, evocation, autonomy and compassion. Students are provided with a scenario that involved an inter-personal issue between the avatars and they practiced engaging in a conversation with them about the problem. Their goal is not to resolve the problem, but instead to use Active Listening skills to guide the avatars in coming to a solution on their own.     

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.  

Students Test Virtual Reality Surgical Simulation Developed at SMU

Over the summer of 2021, three SMU undergraduate students and one high school student tested components of a research study training surgeons in Zambia to treat postpartum hemorrhage.  Three of the students tested a virtual reality surgical simulation developed for the study. 

Khasvi S. using the virtual reality surgical simulation to practice the steps of a hysterectomy surgery.
Khasvi S. using the virtual reality surgical simulation to practice the steps of a hysterectomy surgery.

SMU undergraduate students James Gullett, Thomas Truong and Muaz Wahid, along with high school student Kashvi S., interned in the SMU Center for Global Health Impact in summer 2021.  All four tested various components of a research study training surgeons in Zambia to treat postpartum hemorrhage.  Thomas and Muaz tested and provided feedback on the virtual reality surgical simulation developed at SMU to train surgeons in performing a simple hysterectomy.   

Thomas described his experience  “My role in this project was to go through the eLearning course and Virtual Reality simulation as a complete beginner, noting how the material on disease and surgical interventions was presented and detailing my learning experience throughout. What I took away was an incredibly engaging exposure to medicine, education, and the process of learning. In deep diving into the many nuances of a surgical intervention, I was kept afloat by my experiences with the VR simulation, a way to apply my knowledge hands-on. Only by seeing the real-world application in front of me could I make sense of everything I was learning, an interactive style of teaching that I am confident will not only help Zambian physicians, but students everywhere. 

Thomas reflected “As the summer ended, I realized how this internship made me aware of how I can play a larger role in health and education, especially useful in countries like Zambia where there is often one physician per hundreds, if not thousands, of people. As I pursue a career in medicine, the feeling of being constantly engaged and curious during my time at SMU’s Center for Global Health Impact has directed my attention to medical education, a field I now want to impact in my future.” 

An early stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing clamping of the uterine vessels
An early stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing clamping of the uterine vessels

Muaz, who went into the simulation with confidence given his years of experience with technology through computer video games, was surprised at the level of intricacy and accuracy the simulation required. He shared “Personally, my experience with the hysterectomy surgery simulation made me realize the complexities and challenges of surgery. However, as I watched others like Thomas practice the simulation, I was able to adopt ways to be successful. With a month of practice, I now scored highly with consistency. I was finally able to do the surgery unassisted and help teach others, including a high school student, how to operate the VR.” 

A later stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing suturing on the cardinal ligament. 
A later stage of the hysterectomy simulation showing suturing on the cardinal ligament.

Following testing of the virtual reality surgical simulation at SMU, study material was shipped to Zambia.  In the Fall of 2021, surgeons in Zambia participated in the study.  Data from those participants is being analyzed at SMU.   

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit ourwebsite, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.   

SMU Students Debate Public Health Measures And Civil Liberties

Undergraduate students in a public health course at SMU propose diverse approaches and perspectives while discussing public health measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and its relation to limiting civil liberties.

Students and judges
Two teams answer questions posed by the judges after their proposals on public health measures and limits on civil liberties.

Creating Impact in Global & Public Health, a course created and taught by Dr. Eric G. Bing, is underway for the Spring semester.  Students in the course focus on understanding and analyzing public health data, including the dynamics of pandemics, and the different ways in which the government takes action to mitigate the impact. With the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing countless deaths across the globe, public health measures such as quarantines and lockdowns followed in attempts to protect public health, which also led to protests and rallies by those who believe the health measures infringe one’s civil liberties. Using what they have learned from the course, students now put their knowledge to use through a formal debate to answer the question: “In the event of a public health emergency, is it justified to limit civil liberties in order to protect public health?”

Judges and students
Judges take notes as students present their arguments during the debate over public health measures and limits on civil liberties.

Students in the course researched and proposed creative approaches to the debate topic from a variety of perspectives. While acknowledging the importance of protecting public health, students analyzed the effectiveness of restrictive measures such as lockdowns and quarantines and other approaches taken by countries outside of the United States. Students also prepared rebuttals for their opposing teams where they appealed their points while weighing the impact of topics discussed. The judges ultimately favored the team who thoroughly outlined and demonstrated their points with research to support them. Out of the three debates between six teams of students, two teams who argued “justifiable to limit civil liberties,” while one team who argued “unjustifiable to limit civil liberties” took victory.

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

Applications Open for 2022-2023 District Leadership Fellows

“District Leadership Fellows is such a helpful program to not only connect with other school leaders, but also gain insight from Dr. Bing. He brings a different view and lens to school leaders.” – Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, Texas 

 

Applications are open for the 2022-2023 cohort of the District Leadership Fellows, a hybrid in-person and online strengths-based leadership development program run by the Institute for Leadership Impact at Southern Methodist University. Established and emerging district leaders who are collaborative, motivated to create change, and who have a strong desire for personal leadership growth are invited to applyFellows will apply learning from cohort meetings, peer group meetings and interactive tutorials to a real-world challenge in their districts. 

Tools 
  • Receive individual and group coaching 
  • Participate in a dynamic online environment 
  • Learn from SMU faculty and education experts 
  • Engage with in-house interactive training modules 
Takeaways 
  • Enhance your leadership skills 
  • Better align your work with your personal mission 
  • Apply your learning to a real-world challenge in your district 
  • Expand your network and collaborate with a diverse cohort of peers 

Program Timeline 
  • January 20, 2022 Applications open 
  • March 31, 2022– Priority applications deadline 
  • April -May, 2022 – Rolling applications
  • June 30, 2022Application deadline
  • Summer, 2022 – Strengths assessment
Updated Provisional Schedule 

Fall 2022 

  • In-person kick-off 
  • 2-hour biweekly cohort meetings online 
  • 1-hour biweekly Peer Group meetings online 

Spring 2023 

  • In-person winter retreat
  • 1-hour monthly Peer Group meetings online

Eligibility: Superintendents and executive district leaders who report directly to superintendents are invited to apply 

Program Fee: $995 

Applications and nominations: Interested in joining the cohort?  Complete your application here.  Know someone who would be a great fit for the program?  Nominate them here 

More information: Download the program flyer, visit the Institute for Leadership Impact website, email Christine Ferguson at cjferguson@smu.edu, or call 214-768-1073. 

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter. 

District Leadership Fellows Reach Halfway Point and Focus on Creating Impact

I can go almost directly to that goal, without leaving and going back and forth  …..and I contribute that model with just keeping us focused and determined and driven.   Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD.

The 2021-2022 cohort of District Leadership Fellows have reached the halfway point of this year’s program.  Leaders are developing their skills, learning new communication techniques, and using an Impact Model to create change in their districts.     

Dr. Debbie Atwell talking with avatar Linda
Dr. Debbie Atwell, Superintendent, Mountainburg Public Schools using the mixed-reality teaching simulation.

Fellows have been learning and practicing a communication technique called Active Listening.  Fellows had the opportunity to practice Active Listening using a mixed-reality teaching simulation called Mursion. Using the simulation provides an opportunity to practice skills in a safe environment, and to pause the simulation to receive real-time feedback and coaching.  

District Leaders have also been working through the components of an Impact Model for their individual problems of practice.  They have been:

  • Framing a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed (SMART) 
  • Analyzing available resources available as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) 
  • Brainstorming and selecting key activities that will produce the most results (80:20 Rule) 
  • Evaluating measures to ensure the key activities are being carried out and producing the expected results (Lead and Lag Measures) 
Photo of Dr. Michelle Cline in her office
Dr. Michelle Cine, Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD

2019-2020 and 2021-2022 cohort member Dr. Michelle Cline of Throckmorton Collegiate ISD cited the Impact Model with helping her think through, analyze and explain all the components that contribute to getting to her goal.     

In the new year, Fellows will provide an update on their projects, and receive continued support as they implement their models.   

Interested in joining the next cohort? Email Christine Ferguson at cjferguson@smu.edu to receive updates.  Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort will open in the new year.   

To learn more about Institute for Leadership Impact programs, visit our website, email us at leadershipimpact@smu.edu, and engage with us on Twitter.