It was a meeting of great minds in education this past fall at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Thirty-seven secondary school principals and school counselors joined senior Army leaders and education experts for the third annual U.S. Army Leadership and Professional Development Symposium, a collaboration between the U.S. Army and NASSP. During the three-day meeting, Army and education leaders (including former NASSP president G.A. Buie) discussed best practices in leadership development and exchanged ideas about improving the state of education for students and schools.

New to the 2015 symposium were representatives from the American School Counselor Association. As the school counselors joined the ranks of their principal colleagues, the group of educators drew energy and new ideas from their peers, also drawing on the perspective and experiences of Army leaders in attendance. Symposium programming featured equal parts Army 101, introducing principals and school counselors to the Army’s education initiatives and fundamentals of Army leadership development, featuring a variety of perspectives from enlisted soldiers to officers to lieutenant colonels to two-star generals.

22937227171_18f37d867e_zPresiding over the symposium was Colonel Rick Kelling, deputy director of the Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG) who discussed the importance of teams with the group. Joining Colonel Kelling was Major General Jeffrey Snow, commanding general, U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), and Major General Peggy Combs, commanding general, U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC). Snow and Combs shared their own theories on leadership.

“As leaders, we can never learn enough about leadership,” Maj. Gen. Combs said to the group. It was widely recognized during the symposium that often leaders don’t dedicate enough time to their own professional development and learning. With that, principals and school counselors took part in a series of critical thinking and decision-making sessions facilitated by the command and general staff college experts. During the workshops, educators had a chance to exercise crucial leadership skills like active listening and collaborative feedback.

Principals and school counselors worked in small groups during critical thinking and decision-making exercises.

Principals and school counselors worked in small groups during critical thinking and decision-making exercises.

The symposium’s secondary focus was to help educators to more fully understand the U.S. Army’s education initiatives. Hearing from Army Education Service Specialists (ESSs), recruiters, and professors of military science, principals and school counselors received an Army ROTC 101 course, explored March2Success, and tackled recruiting myths and little known truths.

At the conclusion of the symposium, one thing was clear: the Army and America’s educators make a good team. Together, educators and Army Soldiers can learn from each other, ultimately enhancing their own leadership and improving education and opportunity for students across the country.

To view more photos from the symposium, visit GoArmy Flickr. Additional resources from the 2015 symposium can be found here.

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