Transformational leadership at the school, district, and community level is crucial to ensure that every student graduates prepared for careers, college, and citizenship. On March 13th, 450 attendees gathered in Greenville for the fourth annual TransformSC Spring Conference which focused on that leadership. Attendees included educators from over half of the state’s school districts and representatives from business, nonprofit, higher education, state government, and the legislature.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Jim Johnson from the University of North Carolina gave a eye-opening presentation into the changing demographics of our country and how those changes will impact leadership. Following the keynote, attendees had the opportunity to choose from multiple breakout sessions including sessions to inspire teachers to become leaders in their schools; principals and superintendents to think transformatively; higher education leaders to focus on innovation in their institutions and in teacher preparation; and business leaders and policymakers to form partnerships with schools and districts.
Transformation cannot occur without collaboration between every stakeholder group referenced above which is why this year’s conference provided a collaborative environment for all attendees. The conference team developed a mobile app for streamlined communication between attendees and speakers and incorporated collaboration spaces so that conference-goers could meet with one another to share ideas.
The necessity of student voice to transform a classroom, school, district, or community was a central theme of the conference. Lunch Keynote speaker, Roger Cook from Taylor County Schools in Kentucky explained to attendees that when he began to personalize education and give every student a voice in their learning, he saw a dramatic increase in engagement and has not had a single student drop out of school for over nine years.
The conference concluded with a student panel featuring outstanding student leaders from Swansea High School, NEXT High School, and Claflin University. Panelists reiterated the need to allow students to own their education and demonstrated that when students do have a voice, they become engaged citizens prepared for their futures.
State Superintendent Molly Spearman provided the closing remarks and encouraged all attendees to continue to personalize education for every student in South Carolina.