Education conference at SUNY Cortland expected to draw hundreds

More than 120 school and district administrators from throughout Central New York will gather at SUNY Cortland Monday, Aug. 14, to discuss how to prepare tomorrow’s leaders to transform the quality of their schools.

They will be joined by 20 SUNY Cortland student interns aiming to become the educational leaders of the future.

The institute program, “Re-imagining Schools with Will Richardson,” an influential author in the field of school leadership, is offered during the 2017 Francis J. Cheney Educational Leadership Summer Institute, which will take place in Corey Union. Registration is closed.

The free institute is geared for all current school administrators, future administrators and students enrolled in SUNY Cortland’s Educational Leadership Department. The summer institute marks its ninth year as an annual event, named after Francis J. Cheney, who served as Cortland Normal School principal from 1891 until his death in 1912.

Author Will Richarson, who will speak at Monday's conference, is considered to be an influential researcher in the field of school leadership (photo provided).

The institute was created and primarily funded by Cheney’s granddaughter, Louise M. Conley of Princeton, N.J., the former chair of the Cortland College Foundation Board of Directors. Co-sponsors of the institute, which covers the cost of meals and materials for all who attend, include the Cortland College Foundation, The Teacher Professional Development Network, and the SUNY Cortland School of Education.

Strengthening the preparation of educational leaders is a critical issue in New York state that requires mentorship across all phases of our education leaders’ careers, said Holly Manaseri, associate professor in the department of Foundations and Social Advocacy in SUNY Cortland’s School of Education.

“In order to achieve this, our planning team felt that Will Richardson would be able to kick off our commitment to strengthening the leadership pipeline,” Manaseri said. “He is well known for his work on transformational leadership and is the author of numerous publications, including co-author of the 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning — The Urgent Case for Reimagining Today's Schools.”

“Having the conference organized around Richardson is definitely a step up in trying to raise the profile and connectedness with BOCES educators,” said Andrea Lachance, dean of the School of Education.

Holly Manaseri and Chris Manaseri, retired superintendent and current assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Program, will plan special programming for the year around this speaker, Lachance said.

Richardson will give presentations on “Deep Learning for the 21st Century: From Old School, to Bold School” and “Leading in the Context of Adult Learning.”

The SUNY Cortland Educational Leadership program has joined forces with its regional partners at the Tompkins Seneca Tioga (TST) and Onondaga Cayuga Madison (OCM) Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) to collaborate on this year-long initiative. SUNY Cortland also has invited representatives from school leadership professional organizations, including the CNY Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (CNY ASDC), Rural Schools Association, New York State Association of Women Administrators, Middle Schools Association and New York Council of Administrators of Special Education (NYCASE) to attend.

“It will indeed be a special event for our educational interns to sit alongside and learn with and from these committed school and district leaders as they work on action plans for transformative change in their districts,” said Chris Manaseri.

In addition to Richardson’s presentations, attendees may participate in the following activities:

  • a lunch and table discussion on “What Does a Bold School Look, Sound and Feel Like?”;
  • morning and afternoon breakout discussion sessions including district team breakout groups;
  • optional post-institute sessions on “Digital Learning with Will Richardson”;
  • Rural Schools Association, Middle Level Association, ASCD-CNY and NYCASE informational after-session.

“From my perspective, we hope to generate a collective sense of urgency among participants to make school dramatically different from what it is now, and to begin cultivating a shared sense of agency that together we can and will make this happen,” said Barry Durfel, assistant superintendent for instruction with Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES.

“We will start by posing the question of ‘Why do we need to make school dramatically different?’” Durfel said. “After developing real clarity regarding the ‘why,’ we will move into answering the question of ‘What are we are going to do about it?’”

He envisions creating a regional network of educators, districts and institutions committed to learning together, grounded in a shared and informed sense of urgency, to transform — not reform — school throughout the region, so that the schools become deeply relevant, meaningful and effective for every student. OCM, TST, and SUNY Cortland would support the network throughout the school year with  both in-person follow-up events as well as through asynchronous digital events and resources.

The institute’s mission is to create a learning community for educational leaders that enhances and supports the success of all students through ongoing professional development, refinement of leadership skills and networking. Interested individuals are invited to follow conversations during and after the institute via social media at #oldschool2boldschool or @EDLCortland or @TSTboces or @OCM_BOCES_IS. For more information, contact Manaseri.