Jennifer Blaine (2006-2007)
Personal and professional context…
My journey with the Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE) began as a 4th grade teacher in 1996 when Drs. Beverly Irby and Genevieve Brown mentored and coached me into a leadership position with the organization as the first Teacher Liaison on the Executive Committee. This context is important as I reflect on my time as the president of our organization 10 years later. I was so fortunate to be surrounded by leaders who believed in me and nurtured my passion to become a leader. It is only with the support and love of these awesome, caring, kind and compassionate leaders that I was able to serve as president during the 2006-2007 year. As I continue down the path of leadership, always striving to be the best I can be on behalf of the children and community I serve, I remember that I could not be here without them.
The 2006-2007 school year was filled with change both personally and professionally. I was a new wife as well as a new mother of a precious little boy, while also taking on a new role as the Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in the Spring Branch ISD. Our district had launched its first ever Five Year Educational Plan and our superintendent was laser focused on providing every child with a quality PK-12 education. I so vividly remember him talking about the importance of vision and knowing what you stand for. I learned about the importance of a clearly articulated vision. As I stated in the 2006-2007 newsletter, "People will follow a leader who has a dream and a vision with the ability to communicate that dream effectively." Translated to my role as president, I understood that our vision in TCWSE would only come alive if the leaders in the room took responsibility for it. I knew that responsibility started with me, as president. So, the journey began!
The focus of my presidency was to encourage all of our regional representatives to grow membership in the organization and to lead the way for great talent to rise to the top. I was convinced then, and continue to believe now, that we have an abundance of talent among the ranks of our female leaders. Like so many had done for me early in my career, I believed it to be our role to reach out, motivate and inspire others to become leaders. I still believe this to be core to our mission.
During 2006-2007, we accomplished a great deal in terms of bringing new and experienced leaders into TCWSE, both at the regional and state level. During this time frame, the membership in Region IV almost doubled and the conference hosted by the Region IV TCWSE Board proved to be a huge success. We worked hard to connect new leaders with experienced leaders and encouraged networking and collaboration among and between districts. With the success of our students always the focal point, women began connecting to share experiences, ideas and resources to further the awesome work already happening in our schools and districts. Likewise, at the state level, we worked hard to ensure every region had a representative and voice at the executive board table. As a part of our state conference, regional representatives made a concerted effort to network and recruit members for regional membership. Most importantly, everyone had an opportunity to stretch their thinking, network with others, and set personal and professional goals that would help us be the best leaders possible for the students, families and communities we served. For myself, it was the first time I felt empowered to return the gift I had been given in the past by the tremendous leaders of TCWSE—the gift of mentoring other young leaders to be the best they can be.
TCWSE holds a special place in my heart. Beginning in 1996, the leadership of this organization nurtured, encouraged and inspired me as a young leader. I never could have imagined all that I have achieved without the mentoring of these incredible leaders. They have helped me to articulate a clear, vivid picture of what leadership looks like and how that translates to the success of our students.
I began my President's Message in the Fall 2006 newsletter with this quote:
Helen Keller was once asked, "What would be worse than being born blind? She replied, "To have sight without vision."
The undeniable, indispensable quality of leadership is vision. Vision comes alive when the leader takes responsibility for it. It is incumbent upon all of us, as leaders, to support, nurture, inspire, and empower one another to be our personal best. I cannot think of an organization anywhere that offers more opportunity for mentoring, networking and support than TCWSE. I have been blessed to be a part of this organization for 17 wonderful years. I have been loved and cared for by some of the most incredible leaders in the state of Texas. My hope is that I continue to give back the way others have given to me.
In closing, I share this quote by John Quincy Adams:
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.