We are always humbled and pleased to hear from our alumni and the ways the ELA has helped each of them professionally and personally. Read first-hand experiences of the ELA, and it's impact on the participants.
Testimonials from Professors' Academy participants:
"Each time I would return from an ELA weekend I would share informally with my colleagues some of what I learned. ELA is one very important endeavor that impacts not only the participants but also the faculty and students with which the ELA participants interact. I am also so grateful for the opportunity that ELA provided me to interact with higher education faculty from all over the state of Oklahoma. "
Jerry Gustafson, Associate Professor of E-Commerce, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Enid, OK
"I have found the ELA experience valuable professionally and personally. I found studying such works as Palmer's The Courage to Teach and Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree provided not only valuable information but also inspiration to renew my commitment to teaching and enabled me to revise class plans and presentations to insert more energy and relevancy into my class discussions. I also gained a broadened perspective on how my institution fits into the larger picture of higher education in Oklahoma. By sharing information about how various problems or procedures were handled on different campuses, I was better able to come back to SWOSU and make suggestions to Faculty Senate for changes or to appreciate how we handled some issues better than other schools. That larger perspective inspired more confidence in putting forth my ideas."
Jill Jones, Professor of English, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK
"I learned valuable information on what makes for an effective teacher and leader from our readings and the group discussions. I use the principles on good leadership and teaching to evaluate my peers and as examples in discussion in the social psychology section of my introduction to psychology classes. The most valuable information came from just finding out through informal interactions what was happening at the different higher institutions across the state. I discovered there was a commonality among all the participants, which was surprising, yet reassuring. I felt a renewed interest in my profession and a drive to try different approaches to teaching based on the reading and interaction. I am happy to say that the effect is still with me some 3.5 years later."
Jim Hunsicker, Professor of Psychology, Southwestern OK State University, Weatherford, OK
"The ELA creates a great network for professors. I had the privilege of attending the outstanding professor's academy 2 years ago and still contact some of the other instructors that attended the same sessions. Since there were four of us from SWOSU, I got to know my fellow instructors much better and learned that they are not only intelligent, professional people, but also very creative and witty. ELA serves a wonderful group of people and is a definite asset for higher education in Oklahoma."
Patsy Wootton, Business, Instructor, Southwestern OK State University at Sayre
" The ELA was truly a professional enrichment experience. It provided a forum for the exchange of ideas, philosophies, techniques and problem solving with a multi-perspective approach. The blending of academia from such varied backgrounds provided insight and challenged the paradigms of territorial imperatives. It was a rare opportunity to be cloistered with such a diverse group of varied backgrounds and talented individuals. The opportunity to make new acquaintances, resource contacts and just friends with common goals was the frosting on the cake. "
Gary Wolgamott, Associate Dean, School of Health Sciences, Southwestern OK State University, Weatherford, OK
"I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know the impact the Educators' Leadership Academy has had on my career and me. Although I had extensive leadership training in my previous career it did not address issues that I now face in academe. The opportunity to interact with multidisciplinary educators from across Oklahoma institutions provided a unique workshop environment that is highly insightful. I definitely used several of the ideas brought to the table in the numerous discussions we had over the course of the year. The implementation of these ideas has directly benefited me personally and I hope it makes a difference in our aviation program."
David Conway, Director, Aviation Science Institute, Southeastern OK State University, Durant
"I won't make this a long, formal testimonial, but I will tell you how ELA contributed to a new direction in my professional life. The year I participated in ELA, during my contacts with professors across the academic disciplines on my campus, I discovered that many of them felt isolated as well as either burned out or unsure of their teaching. Near the end of the ELA year, I ran across an article in an educational publication about a faculty development project in which ten professors spent a year working together to study their profession and renew their enthusiasm for it. I vividly remember reading the article, thinking to myself that something like this might work on my campus, if only there were someone interested in doing it. Then I realized there was someone interested in doing it--me. I put together a proposal in the following few days, sent copies to every administrator on our campus I thought might support it, and within two weeks was sitting in a meeting with our president, Jim Cook, making final plans to select a group of ten faculty members for our first Teaching in Community class in 2001-2002. At the end of their TIC experience, five of the ten people in that first group were inspired to develop a pilot project involving a cohort of twenty students who need remediation in reading, writing, math, and study skills. The cohort began meeting two days a week this semester; extra funding came from grants, and a professor from the OU College of Education is involved in helping with statistics and assessment. Professors from the second group are planning interdisciplinary courses, and a third group is now halfway through a year of personal reflection, sharing of classroom observations, and discussions about education. In addition, alumni of the first two TIC groups, with the support of administration, formed a Faculty Development Committee designed to create a unified faculty development program responsive to the specific needs and desires of our faculty. Three highly successful presentations have occurred this semester; more are planned for the spring semester...and beyond. All of these things have come about for many reasons, but I am not sure any would have occurred had I not made that connection between the need I perceived and the realization that I had to try to fill that need. Furthermore, I know in my heart and in my mind the reason I made the connection was ELA's insistence that we were the ones who had to make important things on our campuses and in our state happen, that complaining without action was a waste of our talents and everyone else's time."
Claudia Buckmaster, Professor of Humanities, Rose State College, Midwest City, OK
"During the ELA program last year, I became president-elect of the largest faculty development organization for higher education in the country. During my year in this role, I have experienced both the thrill and challenge of engaging in organizational leadership. Without question, the readings and discussions in ELA equipped me with much more sophisticated ideas about leadership and what it takes to generate more effective organizations, than I would have had otherwise."
Dee Fink, Director, Instructional Development Program, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
"I realize I now view various actions (and reactions) from a variety of perspectives (which I did not do before attending the seminars). I try to see more of the "whole" picture rather than just my part/interest in it. "
Brenda Brown, Associate Professor of English, University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, Chickasha, OK
"My experience with ELA led me to a personal renewal about myself as a free thinker and a spiritual human being. Many times these intrinsic aspects of ourselves are not as valued in a world driven by economics with the push and pull of intense competition. Yet, it is our very humanness which can set the stage for a world which can utilize talent in the most positive vein. I believe each of us has a responsibility to seek renewal so that each of us can be personally refreshed and meet the world again. ELA was the ‘refresher experience' for me. Thank you."
Jennifer Endicott, Professor, Professional Teacher Education, UCO, Edmond, OK
(Higher Ed, CareerTech, K-12 Administrators):
"The first session of the Educators' Leadership Academy was a unique experience. As participants, we were challenged by the programming, which provided quality presentations and the opportunity for creative interaction. It was stimulating to be interacting with education leaders from across the state and addressing the art of leadership "
Michele Claxton, Director of the Educational Opportunity Center, Southeastern Oklahoma State University
"Leadership is who you are when on one is looking, I feel the Academy can strengthen qualities that will help me in my pursuit of lifelong learning. "
Camille Phelps, Director of Student Life, Southeastern Oklahoma State University
"ELA has helped me in numerous ways. Perhaps one of the most significant is that it gave me the confidence to seek a superintendent position. It also has impacted the way I look at most problems I deal with. I truly try to think about the Heifetz book and give the problem back to the people. There is so much of what we learned that I use every single day. The networking opportunities were invaluable to me. I frequently ask those individuals for advice or information. I also have found that ELA helped me put my life priorities in better perspective, made me more reflective and solidified some ethical beliefs that I base many decisions upon. I hesitate to use the term life-changing experience. Perhaps life enriching experience is better. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything I've done as a professional."
Ruth Ann Carr, Superintendent, Ardmore Public Schools
"I can honestly say that reading and studying Leadership Without Easy Answers with Leo Presley did not merely "influence" my leadership style, it has FORMED it! I now consider everything in terms of whether it is a technical fix or adaptive challenge. I had had a lot of leadership training before ELA, but it was undoubtedly the most powerful and influential."
Linda Powers, Principal, Ponca City High School
"The ELA was invaluable to me as a new school superintendent. I was in the initial stages of establishing my leadership style in my district as well as still learning how to do the job. ELA enabled me to establish a solid network with a highly motivated group of school administrators who were all dedicated to the same thing--leadership excellence! I have frequent contact with most of the members of my group that went through ELA and we are in complete agreement on the value of our experience. I believe ELA made us better "thinkers" in our profession and we are better administrators for it!"
Clark Ogilvie, Superintendent, Berryhill Schools
" I want you to know that the program was quite valuable to me. I learned a great deal from the prepared formal instruction as well as the experiences others brought to the program. I have referenced the course materials and the text books many times to help me approach problems or implement change. I have encouraged several others to participate."
Ed Miller, Associate Dean, OSU, Stillwater
"I now give leadership talks all over the country based upon my experiences in the ELA and some of the materials made available during the sessions. Also, through these talks I've been able to highlight leadership as a key issue organizationally. Of course, the ELA has helped enormously in my own personal and professional life. Developing leadership presentations based upon this all came about because of the ELA!!"
Kelvin Droegemeier, Regents Professor of Meteorology, Director, Center for Anaylsys & Prediction of Storms, OU, Norman
"A huge benefit to me has been the perspectives I've gained by working with other partners in education...the common ed and the higher education partners."
Mitas, Director of Marketing, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, OKC
"The ELA allowed me the opportunity to interact with professionals in education as well as in the business world. The current studies on leadership, management and communication were a fundamental part of my foundation in higher education. I believe this program is important to professionals moving forward in their career as well as seasoned veterans. "
Michael Turner, Dean of Student Affairs, Rogers State University, Claremore
"I was thinking about the program and had an example of an issue which could have been avoided had the person been familiar with and had used what was taught using Heifetz's work. To make it clearer, the individual was providing leadership but the ‘pot' boiled over and the individual suffered as a result of moving to0 far to0 fast. If that individual had gone through the program and had utilized what was taught, things could have been different. Just another take on the value of certain training. "
John Hays, President, Southwestern OK State University, Weatherford
"Through my training of the Principals' Academy, I have grown into a strong and self-confident leader. I met many outstanding school leaders, gave me the networking capacity to gain valuable knowledge, and I feel strongly that the training I received helped me be much more than just a manager of schools."
Debra Barger, Principal, Olive Elementary, Drumright
"I attended Principals' Academy the summer after my first year as a principal. That experience has shaded everything else that I have done as a school leader the past eight years. Principals' Academy was not merely a curriculum that I learned or a method to which I was exposed. It developed in me a leadership capacity that is far deeper than cognitive issues. For example, Charlie Hollar kept stressing a ‘Principal as Servant' mindset. I believe that the only plumb line I need for decisions at my school is, ‘What is best for the students?'. I truly believe that if I take good care of my teachers they will take good care of our students. In combination with the Great Expectations program that is being integrated into many Oklahoma schools at the present time, we have a formula for success that makes the future an exciting place to be. I am glad that I am a part of that future."
Virginia Holmes, Principal, Pryor Lincoln Elementary School
"I enjoyed my leadership activities in the principal academy. One topic that really helped me was ‘dealing with emotional behavior.' I always found it hard to deal with upset parents or teachers. We discussed this topic in detail at the academy and I really practiced what I was taught. Since that time I have been more effective as an administrator when dealing with emotional parents and teachers."
Barry Crosswhite, Principal, Guthrie Upper Elementary
"The program was great. It provided networking, friendship, professional development, and, more than all that, it was a much-needed boost to morale. After investing so much into the profession I love, it was nice to have something from which I could feel rejuvenated, motivated, gear-up, and refreshed-- ready to go back into the ‘trenches' and give it my all again. Thanks!"
Pam Newell, Principal, Tony Goetz Elementary School, Muskogee
" ELA has changed my style of leadership. I am now able to let go of some of the things that I thought were just for ‘ME.' It has enabled me to step out and take leadership roles that I would never thought I was able to do. I served as president of the Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals and served on the NAESP committee that wrote "Leading Learning Communities: Standards for What Principals Should Know and be Able to Do." It has allowed me to empower my teachers to step out and make a difference in the lives of children and their parents."
Primus Moore, Director, McAlester Professional Development Center
"I was very grateful for the ELA experience. Although my leadership role has not changed since going through the program, I feel I can contribute more to help the whole leadership team functions better due to my experience in ELA. The ELA program and the study of Leadership Without Easy Answers have helped me to understand group dynamics from a different point of view. The understanding of leadership styles and how people come to perform in various situations has enabled me to have more patience and empathy with other leaders with whom I interact. I was greatly enriched by the experience."
Linda Medlock, Director of Student Services, Pontotoc Technology Center, Ada
"I have been involved in numerous ‘leadership development‘ activities, but ELA has definitely been the most influential in my professional life. It instilled in me a keen awareness of my strengths and weaknesses as a manager and also of my leadership style, which is constantly evolving. Eight members of our staff have completed the program and I know that SOTC is a better organization because we have participated. Our organization relies on its managers to be connoisseurs of talent, to participate in our own in-house mentorship program, and bring others up through the ranks to assume more and more formal leadership responsibility. ELA has provided the foundation skills making it possible for each of us to accomplish this on a daily basis. "
Nyoka Rogers, Director of Student Services, Southern OK Technology Center, Ardmore
"ELA has been wonderful opportunity. All of our senior leadership team as well as other supervisors and administrators participated in ELA. The training provided is the quality that most of us would never be able to afford. I believe the training has made us more confident leaders with a willingness to innovate and be creative. It has helped us understand and handle some of the resistance you see when you are trying to stay on the cutting edge. I have been able to take the knowledge I have gained and share it will all staff. We believe that leadership must occur at all levels of our organization. I use the concepts and ideas gained from ELA with staff in a Leadership Class I teach each year. I believe our ability to problem-solve and work toward our goals are much improved. This commitment and empowerment of staff is directly related to the skills we have gained through the training with ELA. "
Anita Risner, Superintendent, Tri County Technology Center, Bartlesville
"ELA has definitely improved my skills related to leadership thinking compared to managerial thinking, to see the world through a much bigger scope. It was important to meet and make lifelong friends of persons that are and will be in educational leadership roles throughout the rest of my life and career. It was a life and career experience to be around such intelligent minds and hope that others feel that I made a contribution as well. You could not put a monetary price on the experience, but I don't believe for the price, there would ever be a way for individual entities to get so much out of one program."
Bob Parrish, Purchasing Manager, Metro Technology Center, OKC
"Once all of our local SOTC admin-team members attended ELA, it gave us a commonality in our day-to-day working relationships. We are now able to talk the talk and walk the walk so to speak. This year, we put together a local Mid-Management/Mentorship-Leadership program here at SOTC. We have 17 members in this inaugural class, and we think the ELA format gave us an impetus to put together this program. Our goal is to begin to grow or bubble-up our future leaders/supervisors/managers for our district - and to give our leaders an opportunity to advance here or in one of our local K-12 districts, or another one of our career tech's statewide."
Bob Gragg, Superintendent/CEO, Southern OK Technology Center, Ardmore
"The ELA program has been the most beneficial professional development activity I have participated in that truly has had a positive effect on my leadership ability as a school administrator. I came away from the program with so many new insights about being not only a good leader, but an effective leader. I now have the privilege of being superintendent of the public school in my hometown. I know that my participation in the ELA was a key factor in my deciding to pursue this position. Now I have the opportunity every day to put what I learned in ELA to good use helping my school and the students I serve."
Rick Loggins, Superintendent, Barnsdall
"ELA was the most beneficial leadership training I have been involved with. As a young administrator I learned a tremendous amount. In fact, the entire process helped to positively influence my leadership style. Before the training, I believed that leadership was innate. However, as a result of ELA, I now know that it can be learned. The 360 feedback we did helped me see a few weaknesses that I had, and gave me specific examples on how to improve. I am better leader because of that. I recently completed a national leadership program that was very expensive and time consuming. Although it was very good, I was disappointed. The experience I had with ELA spoiled me. "
Lindel Fields, Assistant Superintendent, Tri-County Technology Center, Bartlesville