Barbara A. Sultis (1997-1998)
Educators in Texas were very busy at that time with implementation of TEKS in the four core areas, student discipline in regards to IDEA, district effectiveness and compliance (DEC), and emphasis on staff development. These critical areas of concern drained much of our personal and professional energies so TCWSE strove to support both.
Prior to becoming TCWSE president, I organized the 1997 Summer Conference, "Putting All the Pieces Together." With the encouragement and approval by the TCWSE Executive Board, we went "outside the box" in changing the focus of our summer conference. We listened to people, read past conference evaluations, and attempted to meet the needs of all members through both a pre-conference, which focused on career needs, and the two-day conference, which focused on both professional and personal needs (Recognizing the Pieces of the Puzzle, Making the Pieces Fit).
Since TCWSE's five year strategic plan (1993-1998) concluded during my tenure, my major work involved leading the TCWSE Board to examine the past, current, and future "life" of the organization. The planning puzzle focused on three major "pieces": Image, Membership, and Marketing. The Board began a profound examination and restructuring of the organizational pieces. During the fall, at work sessions, key individuals (TCWSE Board) reviewed the history of the organization as well as current status (over 300 members), and began to examine what we are about and who we are. These key questions focused our discussions:
- Who are we trying to attract as members of this organization?
- Why did I join this organization?
- How large is an effective board? Why?
- What keeps you coming to this organization?
Because of job changes and expiration of terms, more than half of the TCWSE Board membership needed to be reappointed, or the process needed to be changed. Since this was one of the key "pieces" of the discussion, I decided not to nominate any additional board members until the Board examined the issue.
In the spring, TCWSE Board members reviewed the key questions above as well as the following:
- What do we want the "pieces" of our organization to be?
- How are we going to put these pieces together/make them fit?
My tenure consisted of deep dialogue, change, and restructuring regarding the future of the organization. Although change is never fun, I was excited at the accomplishment of the Board's actions during my year in office. We hosted a booth at both the Midwinter Conference and the TASA/TASB Annual Convention. During this year of intense examination, Board members talked about member services, the membership brochure, development of newsletter parameters, and creation of an organization pin that will be distributed to all members.
My theme for the year, "Putting All the Pieces Together," paved the way for TCWSE's agenda. Following are the "pieces" of the organization that were examined:
Historical "pieces" of the organization (outstanding educational leaders)
The founding members (Margret Montgomery and Pat Shell) and past presidents have paved the way for the success of women in the educational workplace.
Focus "piece" of the organization (the mission)
Since the five-year strategic plan culminated during my tenure, the TCWSE Board updated and revised the mission statement. The statement was recommended by the Board and approved by the membership during the summer conference. It is exciting to me that the focus "pieces" (renewal, mentoring, and career advancement support) we created almost fifteen years ago is still applicable today.
Our Mission: The mission of the Texas Council of Women School Executives is to create and maintain a united community of professional educational executives by promoting equity and quality in leadership through renewal, mentoring, and career advancement support.
Critical "pieces" of the organization (what makes it what it is)
With the mission statement as the foundation, the Board also examined other "pieces" of the organization—membership, image, marketing, organizational structure (board, committees), newsletter standards, policies and procedures, and the constitution.
- "Pieces" of membership (services, advantages)
We discussed all of the advantages of being a member of TCWSE, which is part of member services: newsletters, annual directory, monographs, annual conference, resources, networking, leadership development, scholarship opportunities, resume review, awards, and mentoring.
Since the focus of TCWSE's Board was change and restructuring, the development of a new strategic plan will be a priority in the future.
I remember attending my first TCWSE conference in the 1980's when I was promoted to my first administrative job, moving to Spring Branch ISD. Through encouragement of my mentor Dawn Youdan, I apprehensively attended that conference and have returned almost every year since. Yes, my reasons for attending the conference have changed through the years, but I am always energized after I attend these conferences. Educational "giants" like Margret Montgomery, Susan Sclafani, Virginia Collier, Yvonne Katz, and Nancy McNeal were my mentors first—and later became my friends. All of the past presidents and former Board members have made a difference in my life—because one can always learn from another. It is rewarding to see the excitement of aspiring and current women leaders at the conference each year.
Juneria Berges and I have a vivid memory of putting notebooks together in an "isolated" room at the Red Lion Hotel. Yes, there is a story there—thanks to Dawn Youdan.
As I progressed on my leadership journey, I began reading books about leadership—highlighting women. Part of my "giving back" to the organization the past few years is overviewing books of interest to me, hoping they will be of interest to others.
There used to be a tradition that the year after one's presidency she had to "give back" to the organization in the year following her presidency. Well, I organized the first TCWSE-regional Houston area conference in Spring Branch ISD, which was well-attended by both men and women.
Many, many memories—
- Keynote by Yvonne Katz – "I am woman hear me roar. . ."
- Keynote by Lynn Hale – "People perceived me as a superintendent who happens to be a woman rather than as a woman superintendent."
- Resume Reviews by Margret Montgomery and Janet Hood-Hanchey
- Dawn Youdan reminding us to keep in touch with two people we met at the conference--commitment