Over the last couple of weeks, I've had a unique experience. I've been able to attend several conferences where the audience was primarily education/school leaders. Now before I go any further, let me make sure to state that I feel every single person on a school campus is a leader in one capacity or another.
I've been able to come in contact, many for the first time, with people I have looked up to for a while. People who I've learned from, who've challenged me, who encouraged me, who have inspired me. After meeting some of these people face to face, I was even more blown away. And getting to sit down and just talk with them, has created an even bigger respect.
So since I blog about things all the time, I figured, why not share with you some leaders I think that are worth following! This list is by no means all inclusive. I could list 100 leaders that I enjoy learning from. These are just a FEW of the ones I've been able to spend some time with lately and be blown away by.
Theresa Stager is in Michigan. She is incredibly passionate and at the same time extremely funny and witty. I loved so much getting to sit and talk and laugh with Theresa and really see what a huge heart she has for kids. Theresa also had a unique ability to make me feel comfortable from the moment I met her!
Adam Welcome is in California. I have admired the work Adam does for a while, and loved that when the opportunity came for me to meet him face to face, I was not disappointed. Adam has such a strong sense of his views and is so dead set on always doing what is best for kids. It's so clear how passionate he is. I mean, I was so impressed by Adam I started Kids Deserve It with him!
Brandon Blom is in California. Brandon and I connected pretty quickly when we met at NAESP. Brandon is, like me, a fairly new administrator. But in his short time he's done some pretty amazing things. I was so impressed with Brandon's honesty and willingness to connect and share. Brandon has such a huge heart for kids and it shines through.
Nathan Lang is in Tennessee. I "met" Nathan online a few weeks ago, and was finally able to meet him face to face just this week. What I love about Nathan is that the passion he exudes online is the same as in person. Nathan is a ball of energy and someone who seeks to have deep conversations about education and not just keep it on the surface. Nathan is one of those people you are drawn to because of his dynamic personality and incredibly quick wit. I have learned an incredible amount, in a very short amount of time, from Nathan and truly value his opinions and ideas.
Melinda Miller is in Missouri. Melinda is a wealth of knowledge and experience. But even more than that, she's always willing to share at the drop of hat. She doesn't hoard or keep all her ideas to herself. I can vividly remember Melinda sitting with me for over 45 minutes and answering my hundreds of questions and sending me resource after resource that she had tucked away. I am still amazed by her humor and kindness.
Jeff Herb is in Illinois. I finally got to meet Jeff this week at EdCampLDR. I have followed Jeff for some time through his blog and twitter. It was great to finally put a face with a voice and to see how genuine and honest Jeff was. Jeff is also full of great ideas and deeply concerned with doing what's best for kids. Laughing with Jeff was one of my favorite parts of EdCampLDR.
Tony Sinanis is in New York. Tony is such a fun and caring guy. He is honest, he shares his successes as well as his failures. He is also always trying to push the boundaries of what's expected in education. But what stands out the most to me is just how encouraging Tony is. How much he makes sure that those around them are reminded of their worth. Plus he's super funny!
Jessica Johnson is in Wisconsin. I was so thrilled to finally meet Jessica face to face this past week. I have loved learning from her for years. I loved how accepting and kind Jessica was from the start, but also how quickly she made me feel like I belonged and had me laughing hysterically. Jessica has such a wealth of knowledge and such a big heart for kids.
I can't write about "Leaders Worth Following" without mentioning two men who've had a tremendous impact on the leader I am today. Brad Gustafson (from Minnesota) and Ben Gilpin (from Michigan) are two of the most passionate guys I know. But more than that they've become like family to me. They are who I go to to vent, get advice, celebrate, and more. I made it through my first year, in big part, to the support of Brad and Ben. And every single time I get even 5 minutes to spend with these two, I leave a better person.
Like I said before, I could continue this list for days. I could tell you about Principal El, Derek McCoy, Eric Sheninger, Jimmy Casas, Tom Whitford, Leah Whitford, Curt Rees, Dan Butler, Amy Fadeji, Amber Teamann, Erin Klein, Joe Mazza, Jeff Zoul, Kathy Melton, Joe Sanfelippo, Tom Murray, Daisy Dyer Duerr, and so many more people that have impacted me both personally and professionally.
But what I love most about this, as I read back through this post, is that me, a little guy in Texas, has been able to connect with others from all over the country (and world) through social media. It blows my mind when I stop and think about the power that lies with putting yourself out there and connecting. I still don't understand why I wasn't doing it sooner!
So I write this post to encourage you to connect with some people I've meet over the last few weeks and hopefully grow your circle of learning as well!