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Institute for Engaging Leadership: The Work and Learning Proceed


Institute for Engaging Leadership: The Work and Learning Proceed
By Joe Marchese, Program Consultant

The current cohort of the Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools -- the ninth cohort since the Leadership Institute began -- held its third virtual retreat on November 16 and 17, 2021. It was a time for reflection, sharing and breathing deeply for the members of this 2019-2022 cohort, and an opportunity to access colleagues as resources for work and wellbeing.

Over the course of this retreat, cohort members focused on a variety of topics, including the work of the school leader as faculty/staff professional developer, the challenges for leaders of color during this time, as well as how to best support our colleagues and schools in the work of creating more inclusive communities. This work was supported by a panel of leaders of color in Friends schools, all of whom are graduates of the Leadership Institute: Celeste Payne, Westtown School (PA); Mamadou Gueye, Sidwell Friends (DC); Lauren Brownlee, Carolina Friends School (NC); and Norman Bayard, Friends Select School (PA).

The retreat also focused on updates on action research projects. Each cohort member has been working on their project for the past two years. Examples of topics include: “Racial Justice and Professional Learning,” “Expanding Choice and Autonomy in the Lower School Curriculum,” and “Strengthening and Nourishing the Roots of Quakerism and Civic Engagement in Baltimore City.” Some cohort members volunteered to talk about where their research has been leading them. With the wise counsel of their peers, each person developed next steps to be taken in their research process. Action research projects from graduates of the Leadership Institute over the past 18 years have been of interest and influence for educators in Friends schools, for educators in independent schools, and for those who will hold future leadership positions in Friends schools. Everyone can read about the studies on the Friends Council website. 

As is our norm, the retreat closed with a panel of current Friends school heads speaking to a query about balancing personal life, and mental and spiritual health, with leadership demands during a continued pandemic. Gratitude to Chris Kimberly, Friends Meeting School (MD); Julia de la Torres, Moorestown Friends School (NJ) ; Angela Garcia, Friends Community School (MD); Beth Johnson, Friends’ Central School (PA) for serving on the panel.

The ninth Leadership Institute cohort will meet for its final retreat and graduation in late April 2022 and (fingers crossed) it will do so face-to-face at Pendle Hill for the first time in two years. The cohort will present their action research summaries on April 28, 2022 during Friends Council’s annual meeting at the Arch Street Meetinghouse in Philadelphia.


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