Friday, December 11, 2015

Seeing new, achievable possibilities

First General Session of the 2015 Joint Annual Conference
The 83rd Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials kicked off with a literal kick. Motivational speaker, author, and singer DeDe Murcer Moffett encouraged audience members to not only step outside their comfort zone “box,” but also to “kick that box to the curb.”

Interspersing personal anecdotes with powerful leadership statements, and eventually closing in song, Moffett’s message starts with SNAP: See New Achievable Possibilities. To “snap” is to see the possibilities in your business and in your life, and to “find your spotlight and confidently step into it.” To “snap” is also to “see why your box sucks” and to interrupt the process, overcome internal obstacles, and learn to say yes to things outside of your box.

Moffett talked about the two types of regret. One is failing to do something well, the other is in not choosing to do it at all. Regret “stands in the way of being an effective leader.” Moffett encouraged the audience to give a name to regrets, stop the negative thinking, lose the excuses, and use it, choosing fear over regret.

“Just because you have a good excuse, doesn’t mean you have to use it,” Moffett said.

Including stories about skydiving, the New York Yankees, and a Broadway singing career that never was, Moffett spoke about her own doubts and regrets, which came to her in a voice that sounded like Bette Davis. She then encouraged the audience to “Bette-proof their lives. Make it so that you can’t tell your dreams from reality.” Do this by taking your fears with you into your opportunities.


Moffett called upon conference attendees to be authentic leaders, and to understand that “the decisions you make are your legacy.”

Closing in song, Moffett borrowed music from the Wicked musical to close her message of saying yes to possibilities.

The First General Session, on Friday, Nov. 20, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, included a welcome message from the National Association of School Boards (NSBA), a video about IASB’s community engagement process, and the first of several award presentations.

NSBA president John Tuttle, of Oklahoma, addressed his remarks to the “greatest people in the world” and said, “It’s important that we share our success, that we continue to learn, because you care about your kids, your staff, and your communities.”

IASB’s new community engagement video offered the Association’s definition of ongoing school board community engagement practices. The video shared that the purpose of community engagement is connecting with the community. Engaging stakeholders ensures that the “public” in public education is preserved.

The David Binotti Risk Management Award, sponsored by the Workers' Compensation Self-Insurance Trust and the Illinois School District Agency (WCSIT/ISDA), honors a district that shows a commitment to risk management and loss control through participation with the program. Presented by ISDA chairperson and DuQuoin superintendent Gary Kelly, the 2015 Binotti Award winner was   Annawan CUSD 226.

Awards of Distinction in the juried Educational Environments Exhibit were also presented to architects and school leaders representing school design projects completed in Urbana SD 116 and Elmwood Park CUSD 401.

The First General Session was brought to order by second-term IASB President Karen Fisher. Acknowledging the challenges of public education and the conference theme of “Ready, Set … Lead!”, Fisher encouraged Conference attendees to use their participation towards their leadership growth.

“Our goal this weekend is for you to leave here ready to confront those rising challenges; set with new knowledge and skills that will allow you to lead your districts to a bright and successful future.”

The student color guard unit from the Phoenix Military Academy posted the colors, and the Chatham Glenwood High School Titan Fever Show Choir performed the National Anthem to open the 2015 Joint Annual Conference.