Nominations are now open for the 2022-23 cohort of the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute. 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin

This quote paints an accurate picture of my experience as a member of the 2021-22 cohort of the Complete Tennessee Leadership Institute (CTLI). While many conferences, committees, and cohorts in the past “told me” new information or “taught me” about new skills, the CTLI experience took a markedly different approach.

SCORE and The Hunt Institute carefully curated CTLI as an immersive experience bursting at the seams with opportunities to get involved and tangible takeaways to put into practice in my everyday work.

As a K-12 administrator, I entered the first CTLI convening in Nashville not sure how I would fit into this eclectic mix of leaders ranging from higher education to government to local school board officials. As we delved into K-12 and higher education reform, technical and community college options, and postsecondary attainment goals, it became clear that secondary schools are the launchpad or hinge point for student success in the postsecondary space. I was exposed to a litany of resources, methods, and key people to aid in helping my students achieve their goals.

At the close of that convening, we were challenged to begin building coalitions to enact change in our communities. As a result, I was able to connect with our county director of schools and local government officials to discuss expanding CCTE and dual enrollment opportunities for our students. This “change work” is an example of how we can impact our collective goal to increase postsecondary attainment rates in the state of Tennessee.

At the second and third meetings, I found myself viewing all information through the lens of “How can this apply to positively impact student outcomes in my sphere of influence?” Resource experts from the nonprofit sector, higher education, and business/industry world exhibited how all of our efforts are masterfully woven together to create the fabric supporting student success. Without question, this strengthened the discussions and reflections within the  cohort as we began to realize the value we had to offer each other.

As the CTLI experience drew to a close, I was able to reflect on the inspiration it provided through a greater understanding of the role I have to play in boosting postsecondary attainment. I have formed and maintained strong bonds with leaders across the state who share a similar mission. Thanks to the CTLI experience, I feel empowered to enact change in my community and have gained trusted partners to call on to help in the work ahead.

Do you know someone who could benefit from and contribute to the next CTLI cohort? SCORE and The Hunt Institute are seeking nominations for CTLI through May 31. Nominate someone — even yourself — to join the growing network of advocates who are working to ensure postsecondary success for Tennessee students.

Dr. Dusty Warren is assistant principal at Culleoka Unit School.

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