I just spoke with a highly regarded school superintendent with whom I’ve had a professional connection for nearly 10 years. Our connection has been related to the effort in his district to integrate positive youth development (PYD) principles (particularly the Developmental Asset® framework of Search Institute®) deeply into the culture of every school under his leadership. I have had the good fortune to visit several schools in this district to see their efforts first hand. In addition to providing organizational leadership in this regard, this superintendent also provides leadership to a regional initiative to embed those same PYD principles throughout the broader community.
They are doing AMAZING THINGS in this district! Every school creates its own unique way of making an asset-rich climate real . . . and it shows! The language of the assets forms a core framework to the work underway in all corners of this sizeable organization. The leadership uses the language of strengths regularly; the staff in every building uses the same language to describe what they do and why they do it; and the students know and use the language to describe their interactions with one another (and with staff and teachers), and it informs their opportunities for leadership and engagement. And it this outcome—the results seen in students—that really gets your attention. It is, in the words of this superintendent “The reason I and my leadership team go to work every day!”
What are my take away from the conversation? The work we are about is transformative. The work we are about is meaningful in today’s educational world. The work we are about is empowering to both young people and the adults in their lives. This just never gets old!