Do you remember your administrative internship? While I don't recall the day-to-day tasks with any level of specificity, I'll never forget that this was when I first realized the importance of strong mentors. While my sponsoring mentor played a significant role in shaping the leader I was learning to become, he also had a way of modeling why it's important to seek out every opportunity to grow as a leader.
In one particular instance, he and I were responsible for initiating a new program in our school district. The outside liaison for that program was not necessarily who I expected. He was an accomplished former coach and teacher, who went on to become the principal, and eventually superintendent of a large school district. He had a physically imposing presence with a deep baritone voice. In this next phase of his career, he chose to work in an organization responsible for introducing formal education to three and four-year old children and their families, through Universal Pre-Kindergarten.
Connecting with this unlikely mentor was well-timed, because I distinctly recall questioning my decision to leave the classroom for school administration. I regularly woke up in the middle of the night, wondering if I had what it took to be a school leader.
Over the course of the program planning sessions, my mentor consistently sought ways to bring me and this veteran administrator together. My mentor saw my struggle and knew I needed to listen to the wisdom of others to shape my decision....