Edward graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of South Carolina in 1998. He also earned a Master’s in Music Education from New Jersey City University in 2002, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2003. Edward holds Standard Certification from the State of New Jersey Department of Education as a Principal, Supervisor, and Music Teacher. He also holds a Certificate of Eligibility from the State of New Jersey Department of Education as a School Administrator. He is a Certified Principal for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Edward has over 25 years of experience in education and has led staff and students from preschool through high school. He was one of three graduates of the PhillyPLUS School Turnaround Program, a selective residency program focused on serving underperforming schools. He is the CEO of Gordon Leadership Academy, LLC, a company that coaches and mentors aspiring and current school leaders globally. His motto is, “If I can help somebody, then my living shall not be in vain.”
I remember sitting in my office and hearing a knock on my door. In walks my Executive Director and the Director of Human Resources. They both arrived at my office to notify me that I had been terminated, effective immediately. I was embarrassed. I could not understand why I was so successful leading schools before and now I am struggling. During my time unemployed, I reflected and it was revealed to me that I was leading schools in the past alone and I never had a coach or a mentor. I had to take time to learn what a coach was and what a mentor was. Once I did, I got both of them in my life and began leading schools again.
A coach is a person that helps you bring awareness of your strengths and areas of improvement. Through effective questions, you will have your own “Aha” moments and begin the important process of taking action to improve your performance. A mentor is a person who has years of experience doing what you aspire to do. Mentors help to guide you, share their experiences, and provide resources that will give you tools to be successful on your journey.
As a school leader, I know firsthand the challenges that come with the position. The pressures of overseeing a team of educators, managing budgets, and leading the charge for student success can be overwhelming at times. While the desire to improve and become a highly effective leader is there, the ability to access the support and guidance needed to make that growth a reality can often feel out of reach.
But here’s the truth: you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, having a coach and mentor can make all the difference in your development as a school leader. I’m not just talking about attending the occasional professional development workshop or reading leadership books (although those can be helpful too). I’m talking about having someone in your corner who can provide personalized, ongoing support and guidance to help you grow and thrive in your role.
Having a coach and mentor as a school leader is crucial for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it provides you with a safe space to explore your strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and receive honest feedback on your performance. This kind of reflection and self-assessment is key to personal and professional growth, and having a coach and mentor can help you do it in a way that is constructive and supportive.
Additionally, a coach and mentor can help you develop the specific skills and competencies needed to excel as a school leader. Whether it’s improving your communication and relationship-building skills, learning how to effectively manage conflicts, or honing your strategic planning abilities, a coach and mentor can provide you with the tools and strategies to succeed in these areas.
But perhaps most importantly, a coach and mentor can help you navigate the complexities and challenges of school leadership with confidence and resilience. As a school leader, you are constantly faced with difficult decisions, high-stakes situations, and competing demands. Having a coach and mentor by your side can offer you the perspective, encouragement, and support you need to weather these storms and emerge as a stronger, more capable leader.
So how do you go about finding a coach and mentor as a school leader? The first step is recognizing the value of having this support in your professional development journey. Once you’ve done that, seek out opportunities to connect with experienced school leaders who can serve as your mentors. This might involve reaching out to colleagues, attending networking events, or joining professional organizations in your field.
When it comes to finding a coach, consider working with a professional leadership coach who specializes in working with school leaders. Look for someone who has a track record of success in helping school leaders improve their performance and achieve their goals. And don’t be afraid to ask for references or testimonials from past clients to ensure that you find the right fit.
In conclusion, having a coach and mentor as a school leader is not just a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have. The support, guidance, and perspective that a coach and mentor can provide are invaluable in helping you develop into a highly effective leader. So don’t let the lack of support hold you back. Take the initiative to seek out the coaching and mentoring you need to thrive in your role, and watch as your leadership skills and confidence soar to new heights.