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Building Better Boards: The Progress and Promise of SBP's Sixth National Fellowship Cohort

Building Better Boards: The Progress and Promise of SBP's Sixth National Fellowship Cohort

Our National Fellowship was conceived with a clear vision: education is governed state by state, each with its own laws and policies, yet there exists no unified repository for best practices in school board governance. Recognizing this gap, we established the fellowship as a pivotal resource for school board leaders who have the authority and resolve to implement substantial changes in their districts. This initiative has swiftly become a cornerstone of learning and growth for elected school board leaders, emphasizing our dedication to nurturing excellence in governance.

The 6th cohort of our National Fellowship launched on January 22nd, marking the beginning of a groundbreaking journey for 100 visionary leaders. Upon entering our fellowship, each fellow underwent a thorough assessment to gauge their existing knowledge, influence, capacity, and the specific challenges they aim to address. This initial evaluation is crucial as it informs the tailored support and training each fellow receives, ensuring they are equipped to make impactful decisions in their roles.

The fellowship commences with a robust 'Governance 101' training series designed to establish a solid foundation for all participants. This initial phase is critical as it ensures each fellow starts from a common baseline of understanding, regardless of their prior experience. To meet the diverse needs and schedules of our 100 fellows, we expanded our foundational webinar series to twice-weekly sessions. This not only accommodated their preferences but also fostered greater engagement, with some fellows attending both sessions weekly to deepen their understanding and application of the material.

Our training is segmented into four key areas, each critical to the development of a well-rounded school board leader:

  • Leadership Development: Enhancing strategic decision-making and leadership presence to effectively guide, work in partnership with and influence others.

  • Good Governance: Focusing on ethical governance practices that promote transparency, accountability and help to create a condition for innovation and student success.

  • Racial Equity: Addressing systemic inequities through informed, deliberate policies that advance racial justice within the education system.

  • Self-Care: Recognizing the intense demands on school board members, this track emphasizes the importance of personal well-being to sustain long-term commitment and effectiveness in their roles.

As our webinar series concluded, we transitioned into personalized one-on-one coaching, concentrating on essential areas such as policy development, budget management, and strategic leadership. These tailored sessions are crucial for equipping our fellows with the tools needed to enact effective and lasting changes within their communities.

By the end of the fellowship, our fellows are expected to champion anti-racist policies, secure leadership roles within their boards, and influence substantial reforms focused on equity and transparency. Each milestone they achieve not only contributes to their personal development but also propels educational governance forward, setting new standards for excellence and fostering meaningful change.

We are immensely proud of the dedication and progress our fellows from cohort 6 have shown thus far. Their journey is a testament to the pivotal role that effective governance plays in educational success. Let's continue to support and praise these leaders as they work towards becoming SBP certified, and join us in advocating for the professional development and continuous improvement of school board members everywhere. Together, we can change the world of governance and it starts with our national fellowship.