Inclusive Leadership

School district leaders and school boards who invite stakeholders in their district to engage in open discussions about important decisions contribute to a culture that brings out the best in everyone.

Some school district leaders and boards recognize the importance of openness. A recent example is Elaine Nutter, the superintendent of a local Maine school district, who has created several public forums for people to share thoughts about a principal search that is underway.

Some school district leaders and boards prefer to make decisions privately. They do not invite either educators or taxpayers to contribute in meaningful ways to decisions that need to be made. The result is often misunderstandings, botched decision-making, and a culture of mistrust.

School district leaders and boards should take care to create a culture of openness. If people feel shut out they will not support decisions that are made.  Board policies should create pathways for hearing from constituents. Superintendents should listen carefully to the voices of administrators, teachers, and parents. Administrators should work hard to create as much open, focused dialogue as possible among the members of their staffs.

A culture of openness brings out the best in everyone, and ultimately this benefits the students.


Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.