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Whether in private industry, public institutions, or even in the confines of our own home, changing cultures, attitudes, is a challenge for everyone. The process of change begins with the people who either possess the skills, knowledge and vision to lead, or have the capacity and growth mindset to develop into that role. Over the years, I’ve found the schools I’ve worked in had within their walls hundreds of teachers and staff who had a greater capacity to be the person who leads the exploration of a new initiative, program for the school or district. More often than not, these educators possess an extraordinary level of mastery in areas applicable to a variety of the pedagogical strategies, skills, and knowledge that make our classrooms thriving learning environments. Unfortunately, too often educational leaders dismiss this vast reservoir of expertise in lieu of outside consultants or seek perceived established programs to lead vehicles of change within the school.

For the Cambria-Friesland School District we’ve embraced and cultivated a system of change with our teachers who play a significant role in the development and implementation of each movement. An essential piece to this continued evolution is our professional development opportunities built within the framework of our various growth and change models. To provide a greater depth of vision, understanding of theory and research-based practical applications, the book study has proven to be an effective tool in disseminating and imparting new knowledge to staff. Our professional learning communities are comprised mostly of teaching staff. These educators with administration and other resources look to sustain and enhance current programming, while looking beyond the horizon to the next initiative to be considered. In this process we explore the most relevant literature that could bring staff together in collectively move forward. With other district resources our teachers lead or co-lead these book studies which has several relevant outcomes. Teacher leaders are prized human resources within a school system. Engaged in purposeful change for the better these teachers are invaluable and cultivate an atmosphere that encourages others to do the same. Further, this model allows for teachers to be vested even deeper in the eventual outcomes; the most significant being the advancement of our students social, emotional, and academic well-being and success.

Tim Raymond is a District Administrator at the Cambria-Friesland School District, located in Cambria, Wisconsin. A teacher of 15 years he is now in his 15 year as an administrator. Tim is doctoral candidate in the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Education Doctoral Degree in Leadership program.

The Professional Development Initiatives (PDI) Program at SMU works with the Cambria-Friesland School District to align graduate credit with their book studies, for those interested in that option.