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Grant funds The Leadership Challenge in Clark County

Strong leaders are essential to sustain change initiatives over time.

Clark County Preschool Principal Kara Davies developed a grant request to not only help teachers strengthen their leadership skills but also to help students become strong leaders.

Ryan Daniels, a counselor at George Rogers Clark High School, along with a few students and Davies presented a grant request to the Clark County Community Foundation (CCCF) board to support “The Leadership Challenge” within Clark County Public Schools.

“The Leadership Challenge” is a concept founded by Barry Posner and James Kouzes, who also wrote a book about the idea. Their book, “The Leadership Challenge,” presented their research and findings of the essential practices of effective leaders.

“The Leadership Challenge is about how leaders mobilize others to want to get extraordinary things done,” Kouzes and Posner wrote. “… It’s about the practices leaders use to transform values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards.”

Davies said several teacher leaders at GRC and some administrators at GRC and other schools in the district have participated in The Leadership Challenge previously. GRC Principal David Bolen said nearly 120 GRC students have also trained and are participating in the Student Leadership Challenge, putting Kentucky at the forefront of the initiative. Bolen said their progress has even garnered the attention of the authors of the challenge.

Maxwell Clark, one of the students who participated in the challenge last year, told administrators the program taught him a lot about it means to be a leader.

“The grand scheme of what the leadership program really taught me is that a leader is not the person that steps above the rest, it’s the person who asks the rest to step up with them,” he told administrators last year.

GRC will hold the first state student leadership summit on Sept. 25.

“It has been six years since GRC has had a whole school assembly,” Bolen said. “With the completion of the football field in the next month and the gym in December, the school will finally be able to come together as one. It is imperative that our students model the way for others. Our Leadership advisories are helping prepare the school for these events while shaping our youth to become better citizens and leaders within their own rite.”

Davies wanted to scale up the work with the grant to include more teachers and students at GRC, Phoenix Academy and Campbell Junior High School.

CCCF approved the $27,500 request, and work is already underway, Davies said.

With the grant, participants have access to The Leadership Practices 360° Inventory.

The inventory surveys each participant’s sphere of influence (direct reports, managers, co-workers, etc.) to assess for the five practices: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart.

Davies said this tool provides leaders with a comprehensive report of their current leadership strengths and areas to target for intentional improvement.

“Delving into these leadership practices helps leaders to clarify their values, live those values, envision the future, enlist others to work toward the shared vision, search for opportunities to make change, experiment and take risks, foster collaboration, strengthen others, recognize contributions and celebrate values and victories,” Davies wrote in the proposal.

The project also includes two training opportunities. The first set of training began Thursday and continued Friday at GRC.

Davies said each training takes place over two days. During the training, participants dive deep into the five leadership practices.

“Our ability to model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart is central to creating sustained change that results in positive outcomes for our students and our community,” she said.

Teachers will then train students throughout the year. The grant also covers a summer student leadership institute scheduled before the start of school.

“The Leadership Challenge is critical to building leadership capacity within our district and community by supporting meaningful engagement at both the individual and team level,” she said.

Editor’s note: Bailey Vandiver is a University of Kentucky journalism major who is covering the 2019 gubernatorial race for The Jessamine Journal.

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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