Our Time with MCS

Shafer Leadership Academy recently participated in the orientation for the newly installed Muncie Community Schools Board. Long-time Emergence facilitator, Pat Heiny, and I were invited to bookend the day’s activities with teambuilding exercises and leadership training to promote effective communication and positive, productive relationships.

Some of you may know Pat Heiny. She is a partner with Contemporary Consulting, based in Richmond, and is a lead facilitator for Shafer Leadership Academy’s Emergence program. In addition to her nearly 30 years of leadership development experience, Pat spent 12 years on the Richmond Community School Board, which included a term as board president. In 2010, the Indiana School Boards Association recognized Pat’s dedication to Richmond schools with the Outstanding Boardsman Ship Award. She was the perfect facilitator for our time with the Muncie Community Schools Board.

Committed, Collaborative, and Value-Oriented

But this post isn’t about Pat or Shafer Leadership Academy. This post is about the Muncie Community Schools Board.

Each member of the board came across as bright, committed, collaborative and value-oriented. It was immediately clear to me that they bring different perspectives but share highly complementary skill sets. Their conversation and comments focused on all the right things and demonstrated they understand their purpose and appreciate the challenges ahead. They spoke honestly about their hopes and fears, and they honored each other’s perspectives and expertise.

Most importantly, without a doubt, it was clear they are here for our kids.

What Ball State Brings

I should add that this orientation took place at Ball State and was planned by a team of Ball State staff members. Every part of the orientation was professional and on-point. The facility was well suited for the occasion, the materials were clear and accurate, and the schedule was perfectly paced. The team soaked up guidance from top-notch facilitators who engaged them in a variety of topics.

I have friends and colleagues who have thoughtful concerns about the new relationship between Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. I’m not here to discount them or those fears, but I do want to share how encouraging it was to see — first hand — Ball State’s tremendous resources (of staff, facilities and expertise) focused on improving our schools. Watching the relationship in action helped me understand just how much Ball State brings to Muncie Community Schools.

A Bright Future

Speaking of action, I finished the day watching the new board get to work. In their very first public meeting, and under tremendous public scrutiny, they efficiently elected officers, heard a detailed financial report, asked questions, recognized new staff members, intently listened to community feedback, and responded to questions from the media in public. They also voted to move their meetings from monthly to bi-weekly, and to add public comments at the first of the agenda so they could hear the public’s remarks before making decisions.

Everything I saw from this board demonstrated that this is a new era, full of potential for Muncie Community Schools. I have decided they deserve Shafer Leadership Academy’s support, and we stand ready to help however needed.

I hope you take the time to attend a school board meeting to experience their passion and expertise with your own eyes. I think you’ll see what I see: a bright future for Muncie Community Schools and Ball State — a community that is better together.

About the author:

Mitch Isaacs was named Shafer Leadership Academy’s Executive Director in May 2015. In this role, he works closely with the organization’s board of directors to fulfill the mission of the organization. He is responsible for creating vision, connecting with stakeholders, administering program offerings and leading the organization in meaningful ways.  Learn more about Mitch »