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Scott Taylor

Superintendent , Kenilworth Public School District

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Educational leadership

The Battle of Shiloh is considered by American historians as one of the bloodiest wartime fights of the modern era. General Ulysses S. Grant led his troops to Union victory and, as biographer Jean Edward Smith accounts in his highly respected, well researched 2001 book titled "Grant," showed a leadership trait that should be emulated by anyone who strives to win a "battle."

"A general imparts attitude to an army. It is not simply a matter of issuing orders, but infusing spirit and initiative. An inchoate bond develops between a successful commander and the army. His will becomes theirs...The men fought because they knew that Grant expected them to, and they trusted his judgment that they could do so."

The key to the relationship Grant forged with his troops was the success he showed in battle. The general is known to have lost as many battles as he won, but the "wins" he scored in the fighting were significant and game-changing.

Grant's soldiers followed him through thick and thin. I recognize, as an educational leader, that I will have to show successes before I can expect my "troops" to follow my vision. I realize the leaders, teachers, and parents in my schools will not support my work whole-heartedly unless I can prove that their adherence to my plans for student achievement will pay off in the end.

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    Jun 16 2013: Stakeholders are critical to educational progress. My children attend school in a district where the vision is to be "the top producer of successful students in the nation." Producer? My children are not products. So, I wrote a letter expressing my feelings on the matter to the superintendent and school board a year and a half ago. I was pleasantly surprised to get a positive response to my letter, and it started a critical dialogue. One of my main questions was, "Who wrote this vision?" And, it came as no surprise to me that the most critical stakeholders, the students, were not involved in the process.

    Education reform isn't pressing to me because I fear we will lose some battle of the minds with another nation. I feel a sense of urgency in education reform because, as of next year, I will have a kindergartner and first grader in public schools, and public schools are not meeting my expectations. (I have no intention of placing them in a private school nor will I play lotto for a slot in a charter school. ) (Because, shhh, don't tell anyone but most schools really aren't all that different.) So, that leaves us with a system that could use some work, and I'm in!

    I'm going to submit another analogy for leadership. There are leaders who lead because others are afraid of something. This has more to do with submission and self preservation. Others lead with inspiration, bringing out creativity and solutions in those around them. (Leadership, in my experience, has less to do with the singular leader and more to do with the group. It has everything to do with what the leader(s) sees and inspires in those around.

    I see that you are an assistant superintendent and I am a HUGE believer in bringing peace into the conversation in schools. Check out...
    http://your4state.com/fulltext?nxd_id=312062 and possibly look into becoming a "Peace Certified Community" through the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. http://www.mattieonline.com/

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