Just as there are ingredients that make a dish delicious, there are elements that help school leaders manage challenges successfully. Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES has launched a new series, Virtual Leadership Connections, Conversations and Cooking, during which participants from all levels of school leadership share insights on a range of issues, while also discussing (and in some cases preparing) a special featured dish. Our own Superintendent, Dr. Ray Blanch is the host of the series.
PNW BOCES Coordinator of School Leadership and Marketing Services Jackie Levine organized the unique series. Each of the virtual discussions covers a specific topic of interest to school leaders, and each will feature a number of special guest presenters and cooks.
For the first session, North Salem Superintendent Dr. Ken Freeston and North Salem Middle and High School Principal Vince DiGrandi were featured guests. Also, retired Croton-Harmon Superintendent Dr. Edward Fuhrman was a surprise sponsor, dropping in to share insights from decades of leadership.
Not surprisingly, issues around COVID-19 took center stage, with attendees discussing ways they have met many of the pandemic’s challenges, as well as some of the difficult issues with which they continue to grapple.
“The combination of audience members was powerful,” said Dr. Blanch of the first session. “The cooking and conversation demonstrated that while we may approach things in a different way, our colleagues across the region are highly competent in taking the ingredients that life may give them to create something inspirational.”
The unique virtual leadership offering was proposed and sponsored by PNW BOCES’ Administrators Regional Crisis Team (ARCT). “Our ultimate goal was to create a forum to ‘break bread’ together and further strengthen the bonds of camaraderie and collegiality among leaders at all levels in our region and beyond,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Allen, co-facilitator of the ARCT.
Cooking in real time during the session isn’t required, but participants are invited to share their culinary skills on-screen, if they choose. With the December 16 session falling on Chanukkah, the featured dish was latkes.
Other topics in the series include ESTEAM, a variation on STEM programs that includes arts and empathy, created by Yorktown Superintendent Dr. Ron Hattar, and Baking Equity Into School Culture.