2022-2023 District Leadership Fellows gathered at SMU for a Mid-Year Retreat to share progress on their individual projects, and to plan for moving forwards in the spring.
District Leadership Fellows program director Dr. Eric G. Bing welcomed the cohort back to SMU for their mid-year retreat. Dr. Stephanie Knight, Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development, lead a panel discussion on developing leaders. Panelists Drs. Dana Arreola, Aldine ISD, Keena Bradley, Aldine ISD, Bryan Taulton, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD, and Mrs. Taylor Williams, Slidell ISD, shared their insights on developing leaders. They shared the initial goal of their projects and ways the District Leadership Fellows program has helped them reach their goals. The panel ended with the Fellows reflecting on advice they wish they had known before starting their projects.
Dr. Darwin Spiller, Richardson ISD, presented an update on his project to the full cohort. He began by asking the audience to reflect on two contrasting images: the first image of police officers and people in handcuffs followed by an image of students in graduation cap and gown. Dr. Spiller shared an overview of a training program for students which is helping them move away from interactions with law enforcement and towards graduation. He reflected on successes and challenges while implementing the training program. He showed his appreciation for the District Leadership Fellows cohort who provided him with valuable feedback as well as for Dr. Bing who helped him with advice through one-on-one coaching sessions. Through these experiences, along with collaboration with departments in his district, he was able to dig deeper, create a detailed plan with specific goals for his position, and help students reach their fullest potential.
All cohort members had the opportunity to share progress on their projects with a small group. Along with feedback from their small group, the Fellows received praise from cohort members on their efforts and successes.
To close the day, cohort member Dr. Kristin Craft, Spring Branch ISD, shared a keynote address with the title “Heart and Soul.” She reflected and discussed the significance of several photos that motivate her and why they are meaningful to her. Dr. Craft shared her reasons and motivation of applying for the program and her understanding of leadership as ‘leading through influence’ with well-built relationships and trust.
The cohort will continue to meet online throughout the spring semester as they support each other in continuing to implement their projects.