As Max DePree says: “Leadership is a serious meddling in the lives of other people”. In no context is this truer than in public education today, as we strive to meet the needs of all learners and forge results in ambiguous contexts for richly diverse communities.

Phelps works with school districts to identify and place exemplary leaders in K-12 school systems in Ontario and across Canada. Successful school system leaders must demonstrate that they are able to foster an environment that focuses on student achievement and wellbeing in safe and inclusive schools that promote and encourage innovative practices.

The changing landscape of education requires consultants working in the education sector to have wide networks and the expertise to identify strong leaders who have demonstrated the competencies and commitment necessary to contribute to the well-being and achievement of learners and to enhance confidence in public education.

As we approach 2020, all of those supporting the excellence in teaching and learning in the K-12 education system need to focus with laser like intensity on critical thinking and problem solving. Students’ experiences through schools’ differentiated curricula and their opportunities to engage in co-curricular activities both in the school and in the community, equip our students to be civically engaged and effective contributors to constructive and equitable societal values.

In this time of massive social change, and at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution, there is a premium on schools to support their actions with evidence. To ensure public confidence in the public education system and its efficacy, public education leaders need to underpin their practices, attitudes and actions with research and evidence to win and sustain the trust of the parents and communities.

The public education system has high expectations for all students and believes all students can succeed when they experience positive, supportive learning environments that reflect and include the diversity of voices, choices, identities and perspectives. As AI and big data transform our world , new learning through technological innovation and a focus on the “digital dividend” will help students build on a foundation of the fundamentals and be prepared to deal with broad societal issues with understanding, empathy and impact.

Moral Energy Is a Renewable Source

The public education leader is a capacity builder, a partnership creator, a champion of equity and inclusion and a learning champion inspiring all staff to meet the needs and support the aspirations of students and their communities.

At Phelps, we work daily to identify and support public education leaders who will embrace  leading in contexts where stakeholders will likely be more strident in their demands and pressures. To meet these challenges with humble confidence, leaders need the following characteristics, competencies and commitments:

  • Servant Leader Perspective 
  • Communicative Competence 
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Embracing Diversity 
  • Championing Equity and Inclusion
  • Capacity Building 
  • Change Management Expertise 
  • Stake Holder Engagement
  • Partnership Building
  • Fostering Collaboration to Remove Performance Barriers
  • Political Acumen to Support Good Governance 

Be visionary, not hallucinatory

Our leadership development experience resonates with the principles that have been articulated in Ken Leithwood’s research on a Framework for Strong District Leadership which speaks to the following core commitments:

  1. Establish broadly shared mission, vision and goals founded on ambitious images of the educated person.
  2. Provide coherent instructional guidance.
  3. Build district and school staff’s capacities and commitments to seek out and use multiple sources of evidence to inform decisions.
  4. Create learning-oriented organizational improvement processes.
  5. Provide job-embedded professional development.
  6. Align budgets, personnel policies/procedures and uses of time with district mission, vision and goals.
  7. Use a comprehensive performance management system for school and district leadership development.
  8. Advocate for and support a policy-governance approach to board of trustee practice.
  9. Nurture productive working relationships with staff and stakeholders; internal district and school staffs; local community groups; parents; ministry of education.

Supporters sustain us; resistors make us wise

The successful educational leaders whom Phelps pursues for our clients
follow the trajectories outlined below and move from 

Complex Times Require Conspicuous Optimisim

At Phelps, we seek and support educational leaders who 

  • Build relationships 
  • Listen closely to communities
  • Act transparently with information
  • Break down silos to enhance collaboration
  • Build trust, credibility, and consistency throughout their actions.

We can find the right leaders for your school district! We believe John Dewy was right when he said:

“What the best and wisest parents want for their children is what the community must want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon it would destroy our democracy.” John Dewey