Nearly 200 people from high schools and colleges all over Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma visited Pittsburg to attend the KAMO Leadership Forum hosted by The College of Education and the Department of Teaching and Leadership on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The forum included principals, superintendents, teachers, and students in both college and high school.
The forum took place in the Overman Student Center Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and students were able to attend the event at no charge. Attendants listened to keynote speaker Dr. George Philhower, assistant superintendent at Western Wayne Schools, followed by a panel of featured guests.
“The best part is just the interaction between people, and the ideas and conversations,” said Michelle Hudiburg, a professor in the PSU education technology program. “We were talking earlier about when we were walking around listening as they were having conversations, the energy that the high school students brought to the conversations with the adults, and how when they’d say something, you’d have the adults with a different perspective, and just kind of bouncing ideas off of each other and just giving back.”
The forum has been going on for three years, and each year the education department has extended the invitation to more people. The first year, the forum was open for superintendents and principals.
“Our second year we decided, you know, leadership is more than just being a superintendent or a principal, there can be teachers that lead in the building as well, and support staff that lead as well,” said Hudiburg. “So, we opened it up to administrators and teacher leaders last year. And then this year, it’s even expanded more. Our theme is next generation leadership.”
This year, pre-service teachers from a university level and nearly 60 juniors and seniors from the Bentonville, Arkansas school district were in attendance.
“They came to see what the leadership training looks like,” said Hudiburg. “These are our next generation leaders, so it’s really kind of evolving into how to be a great education leader.”
According to the PSU website, this Leadership Forum is designed to “enhance the professional learning process of school leaders.”.
“I wanted to learn more about education and what I can do to change it and improve it,” said Rachel Vandever, a senior at Bentonville High School. “For future educators, we can see what past educators have done and then learn from that. We can improve on what the past educators have done, just learning how to improve on school districts and old things and just being able to improve them in the most beneficial ways.”
More than 125 school leaders registered for the event, representing 12 districts in Missouri, 21 districts from Kansas, two from Arkansas, and four from Oklahoma.
“I wanted to come just to learn more about what’s going on right now in education and seeing how current administrators view everything,” said Sierra Thompson, a PSU junior in elementary education. “It’s nice to learn from other people from other districts and see what they’re doing.”
An advisory team of superintendents and principals from around the area started planning 4-state conference in June.
“We got feedback from last year’s event and got information on what they’d like to see, how they might want it to look, what time of year, and those sorts of things to consider,” said Hudiburg. “So, we started in June, and when we got back for classes in the fall it really got in the full swing.”
Panelists for the forum include Commissioners of Education from each state with Randy Watson representing Kansas, Johnny Key representing Arkansas, and Margie Vandeven representing Missouri. Students in attendance could submit their questions online for the panelists to respond to during their allotted time.
“Our vision was to bring school administrators together for professional development,” said Hudiburg. “Because a lot of times, they get overlooked when the professional development occurs in schools. It’s a lot for teachers and staff and that kind of thing, and they don’t get as much. So, we wanted to serve the profession by giving back to them.”