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Leadership Legacy event honors Superintendent Lori White

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Lori White and Wilma Hamilton DelpLeadership Academy 2016

SCHOOL LEADERS-PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: In top photo, Superintendent Lori White, left, enjoys a moment at a previous Leadership Legacy event with Wilma Hamilton Delp, who served as superintendent of Sarasota County Schools from 2000 to 2003. White became superintendent in 2008 and will retire in February 2017. In bottom photo, the current Sarasota County Schools Leadership Academy two-year cohort is made up of teachers and other school district staff who aspire to be administrators.

SARASOTA, Oct. 27, 2016 – School Board members, school and district administrators, teachers and other community leaders will celebrate Lori White’s eight years as superintendent and four decades with the Sarasota County Schools at the Leadership Legacy Dinner. The festivities will start at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Chelsea Center. The honorary chairwoman is Wilma Hamilton Delp, who served as the district’s superintendent from 2000 to 2003.

The event, which has been sold out for several weeks, is being organized by the district’s Leadership Academy in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The evening is designed to recognize the contributions of all administrators — including principals, assistant principals and those at the district level. Funds raised by the Leadership Legacy event directly support the Wilma Hamilton Leadership Fund, professional development programs and scholarships for administrators.

 “Lori White is such a revered and respected homegrown leader,” said Wendy Katz, co-facilitator of the event and the Leadership Academy. “She will retire in February, so we thought it was fitting to thank her for her service through this event. Her humble leadership, wise financial stewardship, and unwavering commitment to the children, parents and residents of this community will be her legacy.”

Katz notes that, when considering the contributions of all administrators, it’s important to recognize that the challenges and complexity of school leadership jobs have accelerated enormously in the past decade. Like teachers, administrators face pressure to elevate student achievement; ensure the safety and security of students; accommodate the diversity of learners they serve; and address many difficult personal issues that affect students; including poverty, homelessness and child custody.

Members of each two-year Leadership Academy are teachers and other district employees who aspire to become administrators. The two-year program offers career pathways in a district that is committed to growing its own leaders. The Academy and other customized leadership development efforts in the Sarasota County School District are unique; most other districts around the country rely on regional, state or national programs to prepare their future administrators.

Since 2003, the district has devoted much time and many resources to leadership development. In addition to offering current administrators multiple opportunities for advancement, the Leadership Academy also facilitates movement from the teaching ranks into administrative roles. Over the past 13 years, 42 new principals were internal hires and 19 were graduates of the Leadership Academy (45 percent). Of the sixty-six people who became assistant principals in the district during that time, 52 were graduates of the Academy (79 percent). The average tenure of district principals in one position is eight to nine years; the national average is two to three years.

“The success and strength of the Sarasota County School District and its administrators, teachers and support staff can be attributed to the depth of the relationships and trust that have been built during Lori White’s tenure,” said Cydelle Quinn, co-facilitator with Katz of the Leadership Legacy event and the Leadership Academy. “We are privileged to honor her and all our hard-working, successful leaders.”

The Chelsea Center is located at 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota.

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