“I have an idea.”
As a leader, nothing excites me more than hearing team members tell me they have an idea to expand or improve our work. That statement is evidence of the team member’s investment and commitment to our mission. That statement is a reminder that I do not have to conjure up every idea to deepen the impact of A+ College Ready. That statement reflects our belief that EVERY person on our team is a LEADER in our organization.
Our Vice President of Operations, Teri Thompson, and I have had the privilege of hearing that statement on multiple occasions. In almost every case, that “idea” results in a new initiative or a change to an existing program and reminds us that the responsibility for continual improvement of an organization does not lie solely with its leaders. Our entire team is continually seeking ways to do our work better, more efficiently, and more strategically as we strive to have more significant impact on the teaching and learning in Alabama schools.
Melissa Crook, our executive assistant, is an extraordinary member of our team whom I often refer to as the “cog in the center of the A+ College Ready wheel” because her role, more than any other, requires communication and collaboration with every member of our team. In addition to communication with our team, she is one of the two people who fields various questions from our schools, leaders, and other stakeholders. Many of our school partners have her direct number, and she often responds to the generic A+ College Ready email account. In other words, she knows the answers to the questions that people are asking.
A few weeks ago, Melissa sent Teri and me an email with an “idea.” She referenced the large number of calls and emails that she receives from AP/A+ Coordinators (the people in our high schools and middle schools appointed as the liaison between A+ College Ready and the school) with various questions. She commented that teachers from each of the disciplines that we support have a specific content director who supports their work, and she wondered how our impact could be improved if the AP/A+ Coordinators had a similar “director.” She not only suggested the role but also volunteered to take on the work!
A+ College Ready is proud to announce the promotion of Melissa Crook to the position of Executive Assistant/Director of A+ Coordinator Support! Melissa has already begun conceptualizing the job and making plans. She is joining us on our late site visits, and she is sharing with potential school partners the role and importance of the A+ Coordinator.
I asked Melissa to share why she feels the support she proposed for A+ Coordinators is needed and what preliminary plans she has in mind for this role.
“In my three years at A+, I have seen quite the variety of schools come through our program; from tiny, rural schools that had no idea what Advanced Placement was, to 6A schools with a wide array of AP offerings already in existence. What I have witnessed is that above enrollment numbers, socioeconomic status, or location, the factor that determined whether a school would be successful or not was the motivation and leadership of the A+ Coordinator at the school. I found the following quote from Simon Sinek to be a spearhead for why I want to more focus more energy on supporting coordinators
“The courage of leadership is giving others the chance to succeed even though you bear the responsibility for getting things done.”
If we expect that these people will carry the A+ torch in the school, we must put just as much emphasis on equipping and empowering them.
I am currently working on an intentionally structured first year model of professional development, personalized mid-point check-ins, and strategic communication throughout the year. I hope that by doing these things, we can have coordinators better understand our expectations and processes from the outset and help principals identify the appropriate person for this role. Additionally, these supports will be available for individuals who are not in the first year of the A+ program, but are new to the A+ Coordinator role. Rather than functioning as someone who “completes the checklist,” it is my hope that we will empower this individual to be a leader of promoting a culture of academic excellence in his/her school. “
We are honored that Melissa Crook shares her talents and gifts with A+ College Ready. We are proud to make this announcement and look forward to elevating our impact for Alabama students as a result of this new work.