By: Steven G. Ezikian, MSBO President, Deputy Superintendent, Wayne RESA
If your experience as a school business official has been anything at all like mine, you quickly come to realize that your leadership role in your district is not confined to your technical expertise. When I took on my first role as a school business official, I naively thought that I would be working exclusively in my area of study and experience (school district finance). I soon found that I was involved in decision making around food service, operations, transportation, construction, strategic planning, human resources, labor negotiations and most surprisingly curriculum, instruction and learning. I have come to understand, through my 26 years as a school business official, that in order to make the best decisions as an accountant or an operations officer, I need to have an appreciation and focus on the main “business” of the school district, that of teaching and learning.
With that in mind, I am excited for us to hear from one of our presenters in particular at this year’s annual conference. The Wednesday morning General Session Speaker will be Dr. Nell Duke from the University of Michigan. Nell K. Duke, Ed.D., is a professor in literacy, language, and culture and is in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. Duke’s work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. She has been nationally recognized for her work and in many publications. I invite you to take a look at Dr. Duke’s remarkable background and accomplishments at https://sites.google.com/a/umich.edu/nkduke/.
Literacy is key for student success not only in reading but all other subject areas. As schools focus on achievement, more and more time, energy and resources are being focused on early literacy as a key to lifelong achievement and success for our students. This is one of the important areas for you to understand as a school leader to help you be part of the strategic decision making process. I am confident that you will come away from Dr. Duke’s presentation with a new sense of purpose for your school and for your own work.
Likewise, I am looking forward to our luncheon keynote speaker on Wednesday. Byron Reese (https://byronreese.com/) is a futurist, who understands the uncharted path before us as unprecedented technological change triggers a dramatic transformation of society. He also recognizes how to navigate this change while still meeting the shorter term obligations which are the practical reality of operating a business or school. As leaders in our schools, we are leading not only for today, but also for tomorrow. All of the decisions we make and the plans we lay need to be durable. Durable in the sense that the solutions we come to not only need to solve the problems that are at our doorstep and in our email inbox, but also anticipate the environment, demographics and culture of tomorrow. I often find myself falling into the pattern of decision making in a reactive mode. Putting out the latest fire instead of thinking ahead and making decisions today that lay productive groundwork for the issues of tomorrow.
This year’s annual conference, (as usual) is loaded with opportunities, in addition to these two main speakers, to grow our members, personally, professionally and as leaders. I am looking forward to coming away with new ideas, more knowledge, helpful practices and the opportunity to connect with my colleagues across the state. See you in Detroit.