NAfME Leaders Speak Out

NAfME • August 2023NAfME Neighborhood • August 20, 2023

As we begin a new school year, leadership is one of the most important tools every music educator needs to be successful.  More specifically, servant leadership puts the needs of those we are serving at the forefront of our decisions and can be actualized in an infinite number of ways.  This month, we asked NAfME leaders from across the country to share their perspectives about the importance of leadership as the educational landscape continues to transform.

“Leadership means creating opportunities and conversations for others to discover their potential, apply their passion, and come together for a greater cause.  To be entrusted to lead is when others have recognized those in you.  Leadership should perpetuate that positive cycle, whether it be in our youngest students, developing independent adolescent thinkers, or our veteran colleagues.” – Karen Anghinetti, Rhode Island Music Education Association President

“I am so grateful for the honor of serving in leadership with WMEA here in Washington state.  It is a privilege to give back to the community that has given so much to me as a music educator.  Leadership at WMEA has given me the opportunity to work even more closely with new educators and emerging leaders, and I have gained so much personally and professionally from simply serving.”  – Ron Gerhardstein, Washington Music Educators Association President

“I once read that ‘education is not only a ladder of opportunity, but it is also an investment in our future.’  We must make an investment in our children, as well as their education.  That investment requires time and resources.  It’s more important than ever that we have educators to help students grow and the educators feel supported.  The investments will then create opportunities!”  – Sonja Williams, NAfME Southern Division Immediate Past President

“Teachers, by nature, are leaders of people. Our profession is dependent on the development of relationships, the presence of empathy, the responsibility of organization, the creation of and meeting expectations, and making voices heard through dynamic advocacy in a noisy and chaotic world. Teachers must serve as leaders not only in the classroom but beyond: in our neighborhoods, communities, states, and country.  Teachers see and know, firsthand, the benefits of music teaching and learning. Who is better positioned than music educators to lead the profession forward in this time of transformation?” – Deb Confredo, NAfME National President-Elect
“Anyone in a leadership position should remember to listen more and speak less in order to empower people to become the best version of themselves.” – Clay Blackman, Nebraska Music Education Association President

“Leadership means serving and empowering others to reach their full potential while fostering a collaborative environment that drives collective growth and success.  It involves a clear vision, leading by example, and cultivating strong relationships based on trust, respect, and effective communication.” – Jamie Minneman, Kansas Music Educators Association President

“As a music educator leader, one of the most detrimental things I hear students say is he or she loves music but hates music class. Have we done a disservice by not accepting ALL music as art forms worthy of study? Rejecting one’s music, to them, can mean not accepting them, their family history, or the culture and community of which they are a part. I challenge you to reflect on the practices you use and to ask yourself whether they welcome and include everyone in all the demographic areas your school serves. Are the art forms they cherish authentic to the culture represented? Is there evidence of cultural pluralism and different musical points of view? I challenge you to listen to the ideas and the music of everyone!” – Johnathan Hamiel, North Carolina Music Educators Association President

“Many of us shy away from leading because we think we aren’t good enough or someone else out there will take the reins.  This brings to mind the quote, ‘If not us, who? And if not now, when?’  There is no better time than the start of the year to step forward to support, to lead, and to grow.  It is in the midst of the learning  we will often find ourselves leading!” – James Daugherty, NAfME Southern Division President

“Effective leaders ask probing questions about our current beliefs, practices, and policies in education. Transformative leaders possess courage and a strong commitment to educational equity.  Moving toward educational equity for every student demand leaders consider the social, political, and cultural contexts that shape our discourse and decision-making, collaboration and engagement with a larger number of diverse voices, and openness to learn and take risks.” – Mackie Spradley, NAfME Immediate-Past President

“To truly lead, a culture of trust, transparency, and togetherness must exist.  I also believe leaders must possess a spirit of tenacity and recognize possibilities and solutions in every situation.  There are certainly many challenges facing educators in schools today, but knowing we are not alone, and our state MEAs and NAfME are here to support every music educator, is always reassuring.  Together, we will rise to the challenges set before us and work hard toward achieving our mission of ensuring equitable access to music education for every student.” – Scott Sheehan, NAfME National President

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