Youngstown schools hope to see improved tests scores.
YOUNGSTOWN -- In the past, many teachers and other school officials were often thought of as good leaders simply by consistently getting pupils to follow their lead.
In today's post-modern, technological society, however, effective leadership is about more than getting middle and high school pupils in the classroom to do as they're instructed. It's also about encouraging creativity, flexibility, productivity, responsibility and accountability.
Those are a few of the concepts embraced by The Flippen Group, a College Station, Texas-based company that offers a two-part training model. The program is designed to help school administrators, college professors, teachers and other educators, as well as professionals in many fields, enhance personal growth, improve relationships and reach their highest leadership potential.
The Flippen training sessions recently have been introduced in the Youngstown City School District.
One of several benefits of having school personnel undergo the training is that it equips them with added skills for helping pupils increase their chances for success. For pupils, it can mean higher test scores, greater academic performance and an improved social culture in their schools, Superintendent Wendy Webb noted.
Webb said the district has just started implementing a Capturing Kids' Hearts program based on the Flippen Series, founded by M.B. "Flip" Flippen, a psychotherapist. Some of the ideas in the Capturing Kids' Hearts program involve developing better ways to engage pupils in the learning process, knowing how to de-escalate volatile situations, and providing ways to empower parents and pupils.
"It's about me changing my behavior," instead of expecting other people to change theirs, Webb said.
Building better mediation skills and teamwork in schools goes a long way toward giving pupils the tools for healthy relationships with others, while allowing their voices to be heard, she explained.
"Leaders have to create a new culture and value all members."
To that end, Webb said she is planning to have three city high school students serve as advisers to the board. A few parents act as board liaisons and their duties include encouraging good attendance and addressing concerns to prevent kids from "falling through the cracks," Webb added.
Maria Pappas, Paul C. Bunn Elementary School's principal, recently completed the first half of the Flippen Leadership Series. The three-day training has helped reinforce trust among her school's staff and made it easier to further empower teachers, she explained.
"Teachers are [more] willing to take risks because they know I'll be there if they fall and will encourage them to try again," Pappas said.
Three years ago, the East Liverpool School District was in academic emergency and has moved up to continued improvement, something Superintendent Douglas Hiscox partially attributes to having the Flippen and Capturing Kids' Hearts training available to teachers and administrators. In that time, Hiscox noted, proficiency test scores as well as pupil and teacher attendance have gone up while discipline referrals have decreased.
"The Flippen Series gave us skills at meetings to help teams focus on what's needed to be done with the curriculum," he recalled.
The district also has implemented Reading Connection and Team Leadership programs, based on the Flippen training. The reading program has helped 60 kids with various reading problems become advanced readers, he said. Benefits of Team Leadership, for middle and high school pupils include developing good interaction skills with peers and adults, deepening an appreciation for community service, understanding how to be successful in the job market and sharpening speaking skills, he explained.
Hiscox stressed that Capturing Kids' Hearts, similar to the Flippen Series but geared more toward teacher-pupil relationships in the classroom, is "an ongoing process."
Webb said that Capturing Kids' Hearts is not a "feel-good remedy," but a program that takes a willingness "to do things differently," adding that district administrators are set to take the second part of the training in August and teachers will be taking both parts beginning next September.
"It will promote the kind of democracy we want in America. It's about how to find your voice and help others find theirs and to add respect," she said.