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Leading for our Graduates of Tomorrow

A "future-focused leader" must possess three essential characteristics. First, these individuals ensure that all parts of the building or district will grow and develop in the short and long terms. The second characteristic of these individuals is the ability to adjust and concentrate all parties' efforts on achieving long-term vision and goals. Lastly, these individuals have shown through working together, talking to each other, and building relationships that they deserve to be in charge of advising and guiding everyone involved. Through these three characteristics, future focus leaders can foster new paradigms. Future focus leaders can promote new paradigms by exhibiting these three characteristics.

Numerous examples exist of leaders looking ahead and guiding their schools or districts to serve their students better. All principals will lead their buildings as they become increasingly racially and culturally diverse. A principal looking to the future knows kids talk about race because kids ask questions, make observations, and are naturally curious. They will give all educators and parents the resources, time, and opportunities to grow and know how to respond appropriately and navigate anything from students' physical differences to police shootings to internment camps and why we have National Hispanic Heritage Month. This focus is equally evident at the district level.

Future-focused Superintendents work with their directors, coordinators, and, most importantly, members of the community to create an environment that is accessible to all students and improves their mental and physical health. One example is prioritizing financial investment and community support to ensure that all facilities are updated to include gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms. These renovations will make the building safer and more private for all students, faculty, and visitors, including transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and people with disabilities. The development of a student is dependent on their feeling safe and appreciated. When students worry about their safety or fear being bullied, their learning and schoolwork suffer.

Learning is another component of future-focused leadership. When a Director of Curriculum starts their job, they may discover a significant absence of curriculum in every department, grade level, and building. If there is a curriculum, it is easier to talk with parents about each course, find and fix academic gaps, ensure standards and goals are the same and work together across departments and grade levels. A curriculum director with a clear vision will help students do more by using integrated curriculum management software to create a curriculum and offer targeted professional development to faculty and staff. This program would, among other things, give a smooth, unified way to plan, map, and define standards and learning goals at the course level. It ensures that the curriculum is sustainable and that students' achievements extend past graduation. 

Too often, traditional, high-stakes standardized tests are given more weight than the skills students need in school, at home, and in life after graduation. Instead, employers are looking to hire students who value creativity, diversity, identity, privacy, the economy, environmental security, sustainability, cultural awareness, and digital literacy. The district has the potential to provide students from kindergarten through twelfth grade with more comprehensive coverage in all of these areas. Each future focus school district member must be open to and ready to use new technology, create personalized learning, encourage emotional intelligence, and look for ways to keep improving. Similarly, all stakeholders must adopt competency-based learning as a teaching and evaluation paradigm. This way of learning gives students the help and time they need to learn real-life skills.

Future leaders at every level must eliminate the stigma that comes with a student going to a trade school, starting an apprenticeship through a union, joining the military, or going to a two-year community college. With the help of the High School Principal, a Future Focus Assistant Principal will work with the guidance department and faculty to promote and support these opportunities in and out of the classroom. This collaboration includes planning a night for parents to learn about these opportunities and running social media campaigns to celebrate students accepted into these programs. Partnerships between business owners, teachers, and counselors can also lead to internships, tours, and committees. This collaboration extends to developing a set of college courses offered to juniors and seniors that seamlessly transfer to local colleges. It could also mean holding a trade fair during school hours, where unions show off their skills and talk with parents as they encourage kids to use their hands to weld, lay bricks, jackhammer, or make simple movements with heavy equipment. These are just a few examples of what a future-focused assistant principal may do to help students acquire the skills and enthusiasm required to succeed in all future careers.

Leading for our Graduates of Tomorrow
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