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Teacher Leaders
Rachel F. Ritacco
University of New England


Teacher Leaders
Often there is a misconception that leaders are born and not made. This theory was truly
debunked in the article Growing Teacher Leaders in a Culture of Excellence (Searby, L. &
Shaddix, L., 2008). In this article, the Mountain Brooke, Alabama schools decided to be
proactive in regards to an upcoming influx in administrative retirements. They chose to empower
their staff and help develop leadership skills. Searby, L. & Shaddix, L. (2008) stated that their
three goals were:
1. To develop a cadre of teachers who have a deep understanding and commitment to
the vision of the school systemthat it would be effective, challenging and engaging.
2. To give participants the ability to assess and develop their own leadership skills.
3. To encourage participants to provide positive leadership wherever they find
themselves serving.
This program was successful because it emphasized self-reflection and provided multiple team
building opportunities. With such an emphasis, both the intrapersonal and interpersonal skills
that leaders need were honed. The outcome was quite measurable with the leadership positions
that the participants engaged in once their cohort graduated. Several impressive positions
resulted in this process including participation in mentorship roles, supervisor and chairperson
positions; in addition to developing an assistant principal and inspiring some teachers to obtain
their National Board Certification (Searby, L. & Shaddix, L., 2008).
In reflecting on my own leadership skills, I felt in tune with several of the ways that Dr.
Charles Mason, superintendent of the Mountain Brooke Schools identified as being ways
teachers could lead without being in a leadership position (Searby, L. & Shaddix, L., 2008). I

feel that I am mindful of the attitude and tone I bring to meetings (Searby, L. & Shaddix, L.,
2008). I know that I am bothered greatly when others are not positive in regards to new learning
or tasks that have been brought before us. I try to reserve judgment and remain positive. I also
feel confident that I seek knowledge and are eager to share it with my colleagues. A few years
back I was sent to a conference on our states new mandate for intervention. I was so grateful to
be chosen to attend and look forward to explaining to my peers what I had learned about
progress monitoring and our role in scientific-research based interventions. A weakness that the
list brought to mind was that I often am too amiable in regards to what I am being asked to do. I
often roll with the punches instead of causing waves and bringing the difficult questions to the
surface. I could improve on this by reflecting upon any given task and asking whether it is
aligned with our schools mission and truly is in the best interest for the child.
There are a lot of opportunities to partake in leadership roles in my school. There are
many different committees and teams (data team, school climate, school
improvement/accreditation teams, etc.) that give the masses a voice. As in the article, our district
also had two Future Teacher Leaders cohorts. These cohorts participated in book studies and
developed a mentoring program (School Families) and developed student-led conferences for the
students. Being a part of one of the cohorts helped me identify the desire to become involved in
district initiatives and committees. I think our district gives far more leadership opportunities
than there are in the school per se. Since our school is one of two middle schools, I think it would
be best if future leadership positions were offered that would help unify the schools. All in all,
Newington Public Schools has learned to empower its staff and tap the special skills and
strengths of it faculty.


Searby, L. & ShaddixL. (2008). Growing teacher leaders in a culture of excellence, Professional
Educator, 32(1).