Inspiring trust and creating a partnership in a shared vision.
That was the goal of the recent Parent and Educator Leadership Conference (PELC), a Cardinal Gibbons first.
The conference was held February 9 and 10 at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, where many of the school’s leadership conferences take place. Indeed, PELC is the latest in a series of initiatives developed over the last decade that serve to underscore and strengthen the school’s culture and mission as well as to enhance all aspects of our diocesan community.
In the last 10 years, leadership conferences have been designed for each of the following groups, Gibbons students and educators as well as for Catholic middle school students and educators. This year, a conference for Gibbons student-athletes and coaches was added.
A conference for parents and educators was the next step in that evolution. “In the last six years the school has been moving parents toward engagement and the kind of formational opportunities these conferences provide,” said Science Educator and Director of Leadership Formation Gabi Burn. ”PELC was an opportunity to have interesting conversations about what a parent-educator relationship could be like.” Additionally, it was an innovative way to promote a vibrant campus life at schools throughout the diocese, noted Burn. She together with Director of Parent Engagement Kerry Mann and Principal Jason Curtis directed February’s two-day conference and served as team leaders.
Principal Curtis said of the conference: “This is the first time these two enormously powerful groups worked together on a shared vision that will shape our school community.”
At the conference, participants also developed skills not only to help them further their roles as leaders, educators, and parents, but also to identify those skills in their students, colleagues, and fellow parents so they may start to shape the leadership culture at their schools. Part of the conference also centered on understanding generations iY.
With that in mind discussions revolved around how parents and educators could work as a team to identify what needs to be done to support our students, and what kind of leadership we need to model for them, Burn said.
Participants said they found the conference energizing and enriching. Among them was Dr. Janice Jett, a Gibbons Parent and principal of the Cathedral School in Raleigh. “The parent-educator conference provided an unprecedented opportunity to bring passionate people together to learn and then dialogue about our most important mission – the love and care of our community,” she said.
Asked what she hoped parents gained from the conference Mann said: “I would hope parents learned about leadership and culture change, but more importantly, that they got to know our educators and that parents and educators have the same goal in mind: Ensuring that our students are prepared for college and for life, and to become leaders themselves.”
Looking ahead, Burn said she envisions a variety of different ways “to continue to build the relationship between parents and educators.” They could include a parent-oriented leadership conference, a social event, a gathering after school, or a get-together with students. This type of development, she added, never ends.