Declined by a check box. Such was my recent experience with a central office administrator for a leadership position in a local school district.
I had received a call from this person a few days before, inquiring if I was interested in the position and would I be available to talk. In his words, it was just a chat to see if I would even make it to the interview. Expressing my interest, he asked if I had time as we spoke to drive over and chat, but I had to schedule something for a few days later given that I already had commitments that day.
Going into the chat, I already knew my weaknesses . One, was that my professional experience had strictly been in a county based program. This program serviced the most difficult students in the county and was based in an elementary building. Therefore the number of students and staff that I worked with directly were significantly smaller than that of a community high school. Two, Although my master's degree was in Administration with a Leadership concentration, it was not in Education: Leadership and did not qualify me for the certification through the state. To this day, I do not regret learning alongside people that worked in the business world as it has given me a much broader view of the world.
However, I knew state rules stated that if you were to obtain a leadership position and did not have the requisite credentials that you had to enroll in a program within 6 months. My next goal after finishing another credential I was working on, was to enroll in such a program. For me, I see far more relevancy in going to school and learning at the same time for a position in which you are currently working. Secondly, my administrative experience for the last several years has given me the opportunity to work with staff and students on a much smaller scale and achieve success. Those lessons I felt would be invaluable in being able to take that skill set into a larger setting.
Unfortunately, this central office administrator did not see it that way. As soon as he reviewed that I did not have the certification, I was judged. He couldn't check off a box and say that I had said credential and feel comfortable with that. For me, that's like saying that if you don't enter a race, then you are not a runner. It's not true. It didn't matter that the school in question had been failing for several years. In his eyes, because I didn't have that box checked he didn't think that I could do it. He also felt that going to school and doing the position would be too overwhelming. He relayed his experience with his children and going to school. That's him, not me. I will never regret spending all the time I have with my children as they have grown up. My challenge to him that I know several leaders with their credentials that are ineffective fell on deaf ears. His staunch belief that I could not hit the ground running was infuriating although I did appreciate his candor. He wanted a sure thing.
I politely told him we can agree to disagree and spoke of character and intangibles. Those are things that I told him you can't put a value on. A sure thing isn't always a sure thing when you place them into a situation. I knew that given a chance and with doubt in someone's mind about my ability, that it would be as if there was a target on my back. A bulls eye if you would and would only feed my desire to prove what said couldn't be done to be done. In the end, I stated I expected not to hear back from him and left.
While I met with defeat in some respects, I reflected on a chat with an entrepreneur recently and his willingness, resolve, and passion to stay the course with his vision. My passion in working with students, families, and staff to collaboratively work together certainly did not align with that man's observation. I understood his position, but he could not look past the check box. However, no significant change has ever been achieved without taking a risk.