Leadership: It Does Take a Village

Occupational Education Committee Chair

The Vocational Leadership Institute was held March 8-11, 2007, in Palm Springs and the participants took over the "Village!" It opened with our theme song "YMCA" only with the initials of vocational groups instead, and some great costumes including our own Julie as a motorcycle mama! The formal start to our event began with our fearless Scottish leader, Ian Walton, sharing what was happening at the state level and how we could participate on so many levels. In the afternoon the attendees got to "find their true colors" and leadership styles.

I do believe a few bonded for life and the rest of the Institute was spent in reminding each other about what they had learned and putting it to practice.

This general breakout led by Deborah Bachman "colored" the rest of our breakouts and each participant got to take home a great little packet of tools to help them "lead" at home.

The first evening participants broke up into small groups who took off to visit the downtown street market and find scavenger items. Part of their homework was to ask people in the community what they knew about community colleges and their impression of vocational programs. This was homework for a Saturday morning general session. We found out who were the true leaders in finding answers to the scavenger hunt items; they were the ones who won the prizes!

The next day we were privileged to have Ron Selge from the System Office, who provided us with information about Career Pathways SB 70, the system Strategic Plan, the Governor's January proposed budget for the community colleges, and updates regarding Perkins (VTEA) funding. The rest of the day participants had some hard choices in deciding which breakouts to attend.

We had great offerings such as: effective advisory committees, proposed Title 5 changes to curriculum and work-based learning, applying True Colors to the classroom, gaining insight into work-based learning and how it helps students, learning about EDPAC and CCCAOE and how they can help you, student learning outcomes for vocational programs, offering vocational classes on-line, and the Basic Skills Initiative.

In the late afternoon the participants got a chance to share and discuss common vocational issues and find solutions to take home and apply. This was a truly motivating and touching session and brought a few of us to tears to hear such great ideas. The evening brought out the leadership skills of many as the groups got competitive in building their village out of tinker toys! Wow-what creative and fun designs there were and the hotel kindly donated a number of their decorations to a good cause.

The last day the group had a discussion of the perceptions of vocational programs by those on our campuses, in our community, and by legislators. This breakout provided us all with insight into our different programs and the high skill levels needed for student success. We shared ideas on how we can better inform our world about our programs and the great things they do! Breakouts included: program development and reduction, working with business, articulation with high schools, and student services.

The Vocational Leadership participants received a binder and CD filled with resources, a leadership tool kit, and some great prizes. Hopefully they took home more than that-new friendships, networking ideas, insight into their leadership style, how they can participate on their local campus, and motivation to go out and make a difference.

It took a village to put on this great event. Funding for this event comes from the Chancellor's Office Leadership funds; our own ASCCC office with Julie and Theresa and others provided all the travel logistics, rooms, food and support. Many members of the ASCCC Executive Committee came and shared their knowledge and wisdom. We were privileged to have so many guest speakers who took the time to join us and provide us with information we can apply at home. A big thanks goes out to a wonderful Occupational Education Committee who planned this event and made it so full of fun and learning: John Frala, Berta Harris, Dale Pollard and Scott Rosen.

Please mark your calendars now for next year's event on March 6-8, 2008. This is a wonderful opportunity for vocational educators to share with one another, network, learn and more importantly see how they can be leaders on their own campuses. Remember it does take a village to build new leaders-what are you doing on your campus?