The Final Word

Speaking up about School Leadership

Stefanie Croix
Dir./Business Services
Lockport Twp. HSD 205

I am lucky to be just one part of a ten-person leadership team.
Our team here at District 205 also includes the superintendent, assistant superintendents for curriculum, personnel and student services, principals and directors of technology, public relations and the LTHS Foundation. My role on the team changes from day to day. Some days I am the risk management consultant. Other days I am a financial consultant. All kidding aside, my role is to help the executive council make the best decisions for the students in our district.

The biggest leadership challenge facing school business officials right now…
is learning how to step out of their comfort zone to get involved in areas of leadership that have not traditionally included SBOs. This means getting involved in conversations about equity, grading, college and career readiness, social emotional supports, achievement and many other topics that, on the surface, do not seem applicable to business services. In recent years I have spent more time talking with department chairs, technology staff, principals, assistant principals and teachers about their programs and concerns. These conversations have helped me really understand the goals we set for our students and develop a budget that truly supports those goals.

Something I am trying to work on this year is focus.
School business officials are pulled in many different directions every day, which makes us feel like we must constantly be multitasking. I am trying to be present when I talk to people so I can truly listen to their ideas and concerns. I am bringing only a notepad and pen to meetings, leaving the laptop back at the office. I am scheduling times to check email instead of checking it every time a new message pops up. I am marking out times in my calendar for reflection and self-work. School district leaders, including SBOs, need the same social emotional support we are providing our students. We need to give ourselves permission to work on ourselves.

One way for SBOs to improve their leadership skills…
Register for one of the amazing leadership PD options through the Illinois ASBO Leadership Center! I have participated in the Leadership Conference the last few years and highly recommend it. It is offered annually in February and offers a choice of different leadership topics to explore on a deeper level. I am also a graduate of the Illinois ASBO Leadership Institute. The Leadership Institute has cohorts starting every year and is an investment in yourself that I believe every SBO should make. There are also a number of Administrator Academy courses on leadership topics offered each year. I truly believe that we should all be life-long learners and that we can always do better once we know better. In the words of my superintendent, "all leadership starts with self."