Twenty Oklahoma educators were recently honored as the first graduates of the Emerging Leaders Academy, a year-long leadership development program for aspiring superintendents. Among these honorees was Claremore Public School Superintendent Glen Abshere.

The academy, a joint effort of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, is designed to strengthen Oklahoma's education leadership pipeline.

"Just as we want students to be lifelong learners, school districts need leaders committed to professional growth and learning,” said CCOSA Executive Director Pam Deering. “This has been an exceptional class of leaders who are already making a positive difference in the school districts they serve.”

Two participants – Tim Argo and Jill Henderson – are now serving as superintendents in Alva and Canute, respectively. Kristin Ferguson-Harris is serving as interim superintendent in Newcastle.

OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime said the proactive approach to building the leadership pipeline helps ensure school boards have a high-quality applicant pool when hiring a superintendent and that superintendent candidates are more prepared for the role.

"School boards want and need district executives who are well prepared for a job that's increasingly complex and demanding," Hime said. "A strong school board-superintendent team is critical to providing excellent education opportunities for all Oklahoma children."

Participants attended multiple professional development sessions over the last year led by experienced education leaders, learning about leadership, team building, strategic communication, school finance, education law and advocacy.