An excellent leader is able to build bridges and foster a communal approach to academic excellence through leadership, management, communication, and ongoing professional development. The leader must be a true innovator who provides a clear vision for the organization’s future. Their vision is based on data and communicated through word and actions while developing further understanding of clear goals and objectives. Leadership ensures a vehicle exists to carry the information and further the organization so the organization can actually achieve its goals. The effective leader gains the respect of organizational stakeholders (e.g. students, parents, teachers, community, etc.) and therefore creates an atmosphere of partnership, motivation, and optimism. They recognize and commend the individuals and teams that perform great work.

Leaders must possess managerial skills to ensure strategic vision is implemented. The leader-manager must remain detail oriented in order to ensure staff is given the tools, resources, and time they need to achieve excellence in their daily functions. Stakeholders must be given the information they need to be successful; important district, building, and departmental information needs to be shared. They follow through on initiatives to regularly assess, reevaluate, revise, and improve. The leadership side of the excellent administrator creates the vision and momentum for school improvement while their managerial side ensures the implementation and ongoing assessment of effectiveness.

Leaders continuously seek to improve their communication skills, striving to maintain open and clear communication with students, parents, and teachers. Communication is a two-way activity and they must utilize active listening skills in order to achieve a meaningful exchange for both parties. Through active listening skills the leader gains an understanding of the stakeholders’ perspectives. Albeit not always able to agree, leaders inform from a position of greater understanding and alignment for the decisions, actions or final planning.

Finally, excellent leaders ask the organization to commit to being lifelong learners and lead this effort by living this expectation. They strive to be an instructional leader through constant pursuit of developing their understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of educational best practices.  

The effective leader takes time for reflection to consider how he/she can grow from experiences. It is through this exercise and consistently striving to improve that the leadership skills, managerial tactics, communication methods, and professional applications thrive.

With leadership at the core of this document, the ideas enclosed provide an overview that guided the work of initiatives, innovation and programs launched by the Stillwater Area High School administrative team in collaboration with multiple staff. For simplification, the concepts below are organized into thematic categories including College and Career Planning, Supporting Student Learning through 21st Century Skills, Professional Development, Improving Communication, and Innovative Revenue Streams Supporting Student Learning. Stillwater Area High School changed vastly with new programming and innovation to support student success. As a result of these changes Stillwater Area High School has achieved the highest Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Scores in Reading, Math, and Science and the highest ACT test score in school history at 24.1. We continue to move many new applications ahead to serve students, families, community and staff to our fullest.