Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hrabowski brings inspirational leadership style to school officials

Second General Session of the 2015 Joint Annual Conference
Named as one of Time magazine’s ten best college presidents and one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Freeman Hrabowski emphasized the importance of preparing students to be the leaders of tomorrow. His comments were made Saturday, Nov. 21, at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago

“You are all one of America’s leaders,” Hrabowski said to the thousands in attendance at the second general session. “And, you are one of the most highly regarded leaders in your community.”

“Think through the big questions in your school system. Your role is to get kids to be hard workers. Our girls and boys need to become confident enough to be what they want to be,” added Hrabowski.

Hrabowski has served as the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) since 1992. During his tenure he has created an institution known throughout the world for its innovation and research. Each year, from 2009 through 2014, UMBC has ranked as the number one up and coming university in the United States.

Graduating from Hampton Institute with high honors in mathematics when he was 19, Hrabowski went on to earn his M.A. in mathematics and Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics from the University of Illinois. Hrabowski chaired the National Academies Committee and in 2012 was named by President Obama as the chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Hrabowski’s vision of science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM) has been replicated throughout the nation, with much of his own research focused on minority participation and performance in science and mathematics education. He has worked to ensure students of all backgrounds continue to be STEM learners and graduates, feeling that it is critical to the U.S. economy that we graduate technology experts.

“We must give students the support they need to compete around the world. They must be able to read well, write well, and compute well,” Hrabowski noted. “Our kids can do more than we think they can do. We need to bring rigor to the work.”

Jane Westerhold, IASA president and moderator for the second general session, recognized the uniqueness and importance of what was taking place at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference. Building on collaboration between the educational leaders in attendance and drawing from the partnership developed from the three host organizations, Westerhold stressed the significance of working together to share skills and provide a complete package of advocacy for all the organizations members.

Westerhold, superintendent of Des Plaines CCSD 62, was selected as the 2013 Illinois Superintendent of the Year during the 2012 Annual Conference. She has been an educator for more than 35 years, serving as a principal, director of curriculum and instruction and assistant superintendent in various Illinois school districts.

Also at the session, outgoing IASB President Karen Fischer introduced IASB past presidents: Carolyne D. Brooks, 2012-2013; Joseph Alesandrini, 2010-11; Mark Metzger, 2008-2009; Marie Slater, 2006-2007; Christy Coleman, 2002-2003; Dennis McConville, 2001; Robert Reich, 1992-1993; Jerald Eiffert, 1999-2000; Jay Tovian, 1996-1998; Nancy Elson, 1990-1991; Barbara Wheeler, 1988-1989; Joan Levy, 1984-85; and Jonathan T. Howe, 1978-1979. Also acknowledged was former IASB president Raymond Zimmerman (2004-2005), who passed away in September of this year.

While speaking to the packed audience of board members, school business officials, and administrators, Hrabowski peppered this keynote address with thought provoking messages about the strategy of how we teach our future leaders.

“Education is still in a 19 th century model. We need to rethink how we teach people to learn. A college student can only focus on a lecture for about eight minutes. Humans can’t focus on a lecture for more than twenty minutes,” advised Hrabowski. “We need to get away from lectures and focus on group work, innovation, and creativity. We need to think about how we use student’s attitudes to find new approaches to innovation.”

Hrabowski closed the general session by asking those in attendance to repeat and remember a mantra he has carried with him throughout his life.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits form your character. And your character becomes your destiny,” emphasized Hrabowski.