Monday, March 05, 2007

The festivities in Denver are over...

Walker Building
Originally uploaded by Arkridge.
Let the hurlyburly begin.

The NAIS job board has been popping a bit the last couple of days, and I couldn't figure out why... and then I remembered today that the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools was this week out in Denver. Aside from great speakers (this year Jim Collins was one of the featured speakers) and awesome learning, it's a chance for school leaders to interview teaching candidates, and it's a chance for candidates to meet school leaders. I suspect at least one or two of the jobs which have caught my eye in the last two or three days are openings which were caused by the incumbent receiving a job offer.

Good. Now, if an offer would just fly my way.

Shifting slightly on topic, or perhaps returning to an earlier topic: Jim Collins. I wish I'd had the chance to hear him. His monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great, is an awesome read for anyone in a leadership role at a school, particularly independent schools. I was so taken by his writing that last year I sent copies to senior administrators of the three schools at which I interviewed.

Perhaps I came on too strong, at least that's what my dear wife would say, but I'm passionate about excellence and organizations.

Some independent school leaders get it. David A. Bouton, head of Blue Ridge School, gets it. I was pleasantly surprised to find references to both Jim Collins and Ted Sizer in Dr. Bouton's musings. As to the teachings of Mr. Collins, Dr. Bouton has a short paper about the Hedgehog Concept as it applied to Blue Ridge School. He writes,
Greatness comes about by a series of good decisions consistent with a simple, coherent concept – the Hedgehog Concept.

This concept is an operating model that reflects understanding of three intersecting circles:
  • What we can be the best in the world at. BRS can be the best in the world at implementing a progressive learning model that optimizes individual learning by understanding and learning to love learning.
  • What we are deeply passionate about. We are passionate about guiding boys who need direction, confidence, and affirmation to be their best and to do their best. We accomplish this in a structured, caring environment by staff who are strong role models.
  • What best drives our economic/resource engine. We believe in our mission and we deliver on our mission. We develop in our young men habits of mind, body, and spirit that will sustain them throughout their adult lives. Such success breeds support and commitment. Thus the power and speed of the flywheel builds and the process repeats itself.
I get the sense these are not just words. I was talking to a thirty-plus year veteran of the faculty, and his enthusiasm was bubbling. I could feel it over the phone line; he couldn't say enough about the school, the faculty, the students. It was, I thought, the flywheel spinning.

Let me land in a place the flywheel spins.

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