Toyota endowment provides school leadership training

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – School administrators in three Northeast Mississippi counties are receiving special leadership training this semester thanks to Toyota.
Central office staff, principals and assistant principals from the eight school districts in Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties will attend five sessions of the Administrative Leadership Institute. The endeavor is funded by the Toyota Education Enhancement Fund, a $50 million endowment made by Toyota to support education in the three counties that worked together to attract the company to Northeast Mississippi.
Five sessions are spread between September and December. On Wednesday, half of the 150 representatives from those eight districts attended a session led by Casey Reason, an author and national speaker about leadership. The other half will attend Reason’s presentation today.
“He shared a lot of information about changing schools and working with teachers to get them on board,” Shannon High School Principal Robert Smith said. “We talked about the process of involving teachers and community members and getting their feedback.
“We discussed good ideas for ways to do that and to involve everyone.”
The idea for the leadership institute emerged from conversations with the superintendents of those eight districts, said Larry Anderson, a retired educator and a facilitator for the committee that is determining how the endowment will be spent.
“We asked them what we could do to really help them,” Anderson said. “One idea they had was to get some high-level internationally-respected people who can come in and give leadership instruction to all of their administrators.”
Reason’s presentation was the second in the series. Other speakers will focus on effective supervision, team building and leadership styles.
“Our goal is to help support all of the districts in the region and to provide for them something none of them could provide on their own,” Anderson said, noting that the districts also benefit from collaborating with each other.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com