Total Leadership: Vision & Values

My Leadership Vision

In this exercise, describe the kind of leader you want to become by writing a short story of your life between now and fifteen years in the future.

From Total Leadership by Stewart D Friedman

The journey toward my leadership began in 2013 when I started working at the School District of Philadelphia. Due to enrollment issues, I was laid off from my previous position at a prestigious private school in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I was definitely left feeling a bit jaded about that. That summer I applied to every teaching position I could find, but no one gave me an opportunity to even get my foot in the door. Labor day was fast approaching, which meant school was starting soon, and I was beginning to think I would have to start waiting tables or become a nanny- neither of which appealed to me.

Labor day weekend I was at the beach and received a phone call from the School District of Philadelphia to come in for an interview that Tuesday. I had to have a portfolio of my own art, showcasing a diversity of mediums and all mounted or framed. I was feeling panicked. I left the beach early Monday morning, to get home in time to go to the art store and get mat boards and to swing by a friend’s to borrow their mat cutter.

I of course got everything prepared and was hired by the district to start the following week. I knew nothing of the schools I had to choose from except what little info I could gather from the internet, which all made it seem hopeless, so I chose the school that said it had a garden, because that it least was a ray of hope to me. It was a tough school, and some of the administration was not at all supportive of the teachers. Many teachers in my shoes would have quit. Many in our district do quit. But I am stubborn, so I stuck it out. It was a struggle, and after 9 years of teaching I felt like I knew nothing. I was isolated in my setting and exhausted. This is when it happened. This is when my journey began, although did not realize it yet.

I started going to these meeting for art teachers hosted by the amazing Lynne Horoschak at Moore College of Art and Design. There were a solid 3-4 of us that would attend at the beginning and just get together and talk about school, and support one another. Lynne started to recruit me to inspire other teachers to attend, and even had me lead the meetings. Then, Lynn informed me she was retiring, but encouraged me to keep the meetings going. She introduced me to Lauren Stichter who assumed Lynn’s position at Moore, and with her help and my leadership of the group, we sustained the meetings at Moore, and the group grew to become the Philadelphia Art Teachers Alliance (PATA).

Around 2013, I also became more involved in the Pennsylvania Art Education Association. Just feeling that dire need to be connected to other art teachers, I went to every event I possibly could. Robin Brewer and Lisbeth Bucci took me under their wing at the 2013 conference, and from there I felt a connection to them. Eventually, I took on a board position with the PAEA as a regional representative for our very large state. I started to consider what my future with the organization would look like. I knew eventually I would want to take on a larger role with the Leadership Council (LC) but when? Robin was president when I started thinking about what my leadership would look like. Then Lisbeth became president-elect, and then I started to think about who I would want to follow in that position, and it was clear as day to me that if anyone, I wanted to follow the line of Diane Wilkin, to Robin Brewer, to Lisbeth Bucci, and then me. So here I am now, as president-elect of the PAEA, and it’s a little scary, but I will figure it out.

One thing about me is that no matter how daunting a task or job is, I know I can figure it out. That’s just how my mind works. It may scare the pants off me at first and cause lots of anxiety but I can and will get to where I need to be. And if I mess up along the way, I learn from it. Mistakes are steps to success. Weirdly I sound positive right now, but I don’t think that I am always the most positive person, and that is something I hope to work on.

Through my work with PATA and PAEA I hope to help support art teachers in their roles and to advocate more profoundly for art education. I want to be a strong and confident leader whom others can depend on and I would hope to have the wisdom to understand boundaries of when I give too much of myself. As a leader I hope to learn how to better focus my time and energy and to balance more goals in the most efficient manner. I want to be an authentic leader leading with my authentic self and understanding my sense of purpose and direction. That’s my destination for the next six years or so, and it’s hard for me to fathom what the day to day might be like, but I know that I will adapt as needed.

Looking further into the future, I see everything I am doing as leading up to taking on a role as a district art administrator, which is something I have said in whispers to close friends before, but in being true to my authentic self, this is something I do feel like I have been and will be working up to. That may mean taking further Graduate courses for an arts administration degree, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. Currently, I am far too busy to consider taking Grad courses again!

I feel like I’ve bonked this first exercise…I mostly wrote about what got me to where I am and did not write so much about how I imagine my future in leadership will look… or how I will make the world better in some way. Is this even a leadership vision?? I am not sure how to envision something so vague at this point. Maybe this will get cleaned up and redone later… For now let’s call this Version 1.

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