NASSP is currently seeking applications for the Board of Directors. In this post, Dr. Evelyn Edney, principal of the Early College High School at Delaware State University in Dover, DE, reflects on how participation on the board has helped her grow as a leader and better advocate for her community and the profession.

I joined the NASSP Board of Directors this past June. I became a school leader in 2000 and have been the president of the Delaware Association of School Principals for quite some time. Before I joined the NASSP board, I was already committed to building up young, upcoming leaders and showing them the ways of the world. But I was interested in advocating for my colleagues and ensuring that the voices of school leaders are heard wherever decisions about schools are being made.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, it became abundantly clear to me that too many laws are being passed by people who don’t spend time in our hallways, who don’t know what it takes to educate students through a global pandemic, and who don’t know what our schools, staff, and communities need. With one stroke of their pen, a state legislators can completely change policies that put more pressure and expectations on school leaders. Meanwhile, too many of us are leading in schools with our hair on fire.

As a member of the board, I have had multiple opportunities to inform decision makers about specific policies and help them understand where we need additional support. I’ve sat down with and spoken to the Delaware State Secretary of Education as well as the U.S. Secretary of Education. We’ve discussed everything from state testing requirements to the need for consistency and communication around masking policies.

Being on the board has also helped me better lead my community. When I first joined the board, President Gregg Wieczorek led us in a session called “720 Coin” which is the number of hours our high school students will spend with us from the time they are freshmen through their senior year. We discussed to what end we wanted each of those hours to serve. I’ve already developed a professional development program for my staff to really examine those hours and think strategically about how we are going to spend each of them making sure that our students are going to college and pursuing a career.

I’ve also had the opportunity to develop professional relationships and life-long friendships with other members of the board. We’ve created a support system to help each other sustain ourselves and our work through these challenging times. I’ve heard their stories, furthered my understanding of the policies we need, and gained insight into more ways to serve my community.

We’re so used to being out front and leading all the time but being on the board has also helped me grow as a listener. It’s imperative that we listen to each other, especially when someone has walked a different set of miles than we have, to understand what is important to them and expand our own thinking.

I’m excited to spend the next few years serving on this board. It’s an exciting and pivotal time for growth at NASSP. If you are looking for more ways to make your voice as a school leader heard, I encourage you to apply.

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