Leadership: Reading and Reflecting

By Tracy Hudson, Leadership Specialist for Delaware Academy of School Leadership at the University of Delaware

I discovered my love of reading at an early age. My infatuation for books started when my supportive mother took me to the public library. She let me wonder the entire second floor of the Greenville Public Library pursuing the large selection of the children’s books. The best part of the day was I got to check out as many books as my heart desired (and the librarian would let me take!). While my first love was Dr. Seuss books, I soon transitioned to Nancy Drew. My mother could not keep me in books. An opportunity arose when we visited a local antique store. Guess what? There were all my Nancy Drew books on the shelf for ten cents. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I still have those books!
I continued to read personally and professionally as I progressed from student to teacher and then administrator. When I became an administrator, I noticed that the school leaders I admired had some common characteristics. One commonality was they were always inquiring and pursuing knowledge. I soon discovered that the leaders I emulated read constantly. They often recommended books and articles that would help me grow and develop throughout my career.
One of the earliest books that impacted me was required reading through my school districts Administrative Institute. This book was Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips. Through this book I learned about his diverse leadership abilities and how they can be applied to school leadership. The principles discussed in this book have stood the test of time. Who would have thought MBWA (managing by walking around started with our sixteenth president?)
Since March 13th, I have been sheltering in place along with the rest of the country. This has given me the opportunity to read numerous articles on leadership. Every morning my inbox is flooded with articles supporting students, teachers, parents and the community through these trying times. One of the most powerful articles I read was from our forty-fourth president. What a coincidence!
On April 9th President Barack Obama’s addressed more than 3oo Mayors. He shared advice about the power of truth, building strong teams and supporting essential workers. The same message is relevant for school leaders as they support their students, parents, teachers and support staff during these trying times.
President Barack Obama’s Speech to Mayors on April 9, 2020
I have been reflecting on my personal reading during this time. I am currently reading two books. While struggling to get through both books, I realized that neither of them have impacted me like some of the books I have read in the past. One book that comes to mind is The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. This book takes place at the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia. The main character makes her living by scavenging recyclables from the trash. While struggling to make ends meet, she decides she wants a better life for her chronically ill child. She knows learning to read is her way to a better life. This is something school leaders have known for a long time.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – President John Quincy Adams, USA
Until next time, happy reading.

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