Transformational Leadership Initiative Hosts Inspiring Summer Retreat

The 2023-2024 school year is in full swing for students and families in our region, including those who attend St. Louis Public Schools. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, teachers and school leaders across the area prepared for the upcoming year, setting up their classrooms, planning lessons, and engaging in professional learning. In partnership with the Community Partnership Network of St. Louis Public Schools (CPN) and the Institute for School Partnership at Washington University (ISP), the Transformational Leadership Initiative (TLI) hosted its annual Summer Institute, bringing together over 30 educators for an impactful and collaborative eight-day retreat.

As a community-based field of interest fund at the St. Louis Community Foundation, TLI is bringing educators together to challenge traditional educational models, create a shared vision for their schools, and developed a culture of distributed leadership to implement that vision. The Fund was established in 2016 by generous donors to support public schools in our region, and it continues to do so today through its collaborative partnerships with local institutions.

The Summer Institute provided educators from Ashland and Meramac Elementary schools with a unique opportunity to intentionally design their school environment and classrooms, and dedicate time to grow as professionals. Educators enhanced their teaching skills by mapping out creative lesson plans, investigating innovative instructional methods, and gaining new insight into their professional strengths. They also dedicated time to understanding each other’s strengths, allowing them to deepen relationships as a school community.

Equipped with a grea­­­­ter appreciation of each other’s strengths, participants worked closely with their peers to develop school-wide procedures and policies designed to foster a positive school culture. They focused both on mapping out day to day procedures (the flow of the morning assembly, for example), and on fostering the overall environment, culture, and purpose of the school (one in which every person feels seen, heard, and valued).

In an education landscape where time for meaningful collaboration often becomes scarce during the school year, the Summer Institute is dedicated to empowering educators to start the year off strong, plan their workflows, and foster authentic connections with each other. Participants exchanged ideas, shared successes and challenges, and forge relationships that will help sustain their work and create an ongoing support system as they face the demands of their profession.

“Looking ahead, we are excited to build upon the momentum generated by the Institute and continue supporting these and other schools engaged in the Transformational Leadership Initiative,” said Renata Bule, Advancement Director for School Transformation. “The TLI program centers on ongoing collaboration, educator professional development, and the cultivation of a school culture rooted in distributed leadership; we will continue to work with our partners to help meet their needs as they evolve.”