By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
Caledonia Area Schools Superintendent Ben Barton joins a cohort of 25 other superintendents from across the country as a member of the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program.
“I hope to continue to grow in my profession and this piqued my interest,” Barton said of the opportunity. “I consulted with a few of my board members and they encouraged me to apply. I’m honored to have been accepted.”
“Excellence in leadership in our nation’s public schools has never been more vital to our children’s success than it is today,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of the AASA. “The AASA National Superintendent Certification Program® is the place for early career superintendents to develop the skills, knowledge and professional networks they need to become the excellent leaders our children, and our nation, needs.”
The work the group does is on a national scale but is meant to be brought back to the districts that the superintendents operate within, and should help strengthen those schools.
Principals Mary Morem and Gina Meinertz have assumed leadership roles at the state level which has led to benefits for Caledonia students.
“I just want to say things like this: extra initiatives that Mr. Barton is taking on, and leadership positions that Mrs. Morem and Mrs. Meinertz are taking on at the state level, really benefit our district,” said board chairman Kelley McGraw. “We fully support this from our leaders.”
The experience is meant to be an enriching one
Barton said he’s already been sent some literature that he must brush up on for their first meeting.
“We will meet two times per year for the next two years,” Barton said.
Barton will travel to Oceanside, Calif., in mid-July to begin the cohort.
The program will be four days, 10 hours each day.
There will be nightly work that participants will do after program hours.
“AASA has planned a robust experience that focuses on sharpening the skills that successful superintendents acknowledge are needed to thrive on the job, and provide a relevant experience for our members. It is clear that political and economic pressures of the job are exacerbated by growing intrusions into local control and a prevailing attitude that educators do not have the solutions, and indeed, are part of the problem. Our certificate will help our members thrive in these difficult conditions,” said their website.
Barton said that for him the opportunity is about networking.
“When I was a first year superintendent you were paired with a mentor at the state level,” he said.
This program will provide the members of the cohort with a mentor, which Barton is looking forward to once again.
“I learned a lot and I expect this will be the same,” he said.
The program will cover
• Transformational leadership.
• Understanding and developing effective board-superintendent relationships.
• Understanding and ensuring equity.
• Navigating community, state and national politics.
• The impact of economic pressures and budgeting.
• Effective instructional leadership.
• Impactful and effective communications with all stakeholders.
• Severing effectively as CEO and education leader in the district and community.
The group will do a capstone project that they will bring back to their respective districts.
Barton said that while he hasn’t yet chosen what that project will be, he is planning to consult with the school board to see how the time can best benefit Caledonia public schools.
“The Capstone Project is a practitioner-oriented project that will challenge Participants to use their knowledge gained during the Certification Program, current expertise, and work experience to analyze a district issue that requires intervention. Participants will develop and implement an action plan to address the issue in a comprehensive and lasting way,” the program’s website stated.
Barton is just one of two Minnesota superintendents who will be in this specific cohort.
As he grows professionally, the benefits to the Caledonia Area public schools grows as well.