MSAA Matters

June Volume II

June 15, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We are in the home stretch of what, perhaps, has been the most demanding school year in anyone's career, either as a veteran, or as a new administrator - it has been a formidable challenge to be a school leader. MSAA commends each of you for your courage, tenacity and humor during COVID-19, and the country's watershed moment in history in confronting racism and the violence it engenders. Click here for the National African American Museum's link to talking about race. Please make sure you take care as you close out his school year and take some time for yourself. Take care for the caregiver.

Below we have some exciting opportunities coming up. Firstly, MSAA, in partnership with MIAA, is offering an Antiracist Book Group.

Antiracist Educator Book Group Initiative

MSAA and MIAA are pleased to add a new resource to our Associations respective diversity initiatives and are inviting administrators to an education book study this summer. We look forward to this opportunity to engage our memberships in a conversation about how we can support one another to be antiracist educators to provide school communities across the Commonwealth that are welcoming and engaging for all.

The book group will be moderated by three Principals passionate about this work: Peter Gillen, Principal, West Springfield Middle School; Ted McCarthy, Principal Sutton High School; and Julie Vincentsen, Principal, Hanscom Primary School (Lincoln Public Schools). The group will meet weekly on Zoom for an hour-long discussion. The goal is to start the week of June 29th and run for eight weeks finishing the week of August 17th. The reading schedule will be determined once a book is chosen.

If you are interested in joining us, click here to access a form to sign up and to help us choose the book. One of the moderators will email you soon with more information. Our Association members are reminded to visit their respective websites to avail the statement on diversity and suggested resources. This learning effort will be consistent with the joint mission of the MSAA/MIAA joint committee.

Secondly, Rick Rogers has supplied us with information for the Soul of Leadership for the 2020-2021 school year.

Exploring The Soul of Leadership

Over the past two years, MSAA has partnered with Courage and Renewal Northeast to offer a new and unique professional learning experience for principals called “The Soul of Leadership: Courage, Presence and Integrity.” With grant funding intended to support transformational leadership from the Angell Foundation, 53 principals from a range of districts across Massachusetts have participated in our first two cohorts.

So what is this program with the lofty sounding name?

In order to lead and thrive in the role, principals need to develop both the social-emotional capacity to manage job-related stress and the tools to cultivate school culture. The recent school shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic have only underscored the crucial role that principals play in cultivating a school culture in which staff, students and families feel safe, cared for, and valued. And principals report substantial job-related stress which can compromise their personal well-being as well as their leadership.

The Soul of Leadership offers school leaders the time, space, and skilled facilitation to do what Parker J. Palmer calls “the work before the work.” Soul of Leadership is intended to develop principals’ critical capacity for self-awareness, listening, reflection, and leadership while providing a lived experience of the process of building relational trust and offering strategies to help leaders strengthen SEL in their adult community. The program helps integrate reflective practices into the routine of administrative team meetings and helps teams apply these practices to their daily work.

The program uses a blended format which includes four single-day retreat sessions spread quarterly over the course of the school year combined with three virtual small group video-conference sessions in between. These virtual groups are experiential and interactive – very different from the draining virtual meetings which have recently become ubiquitous.

Our Impact

A program evaluation conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership found that principals who participated were much more likely to feel hopeful and to feel a sense of efficacy after the program. Resilience in the face of challenges increased. And principals formed strong collaborative relationships with other principals participating in Soul of Leadership that flourished beyond the program.

As a program facilitator, I have been profoundly moved by the depth of caring and reflection that our participants bring to our circle and their role as principal. The positive response is inspiring and gives me hope that today’s generation of leaders will be able to sustain their leadership and maintain their equilibrium while facing the inevitable demands and challenges of the work.

What’s Next?

Statewide Cohort 3: We hope to offer a third cohort during the 2020-21 school year. We would begin in September in virtual small groups and hope to move to whole group retreats at mid-year. If you are interested in participating in our third cohort, please sign-up here (A link for official MSAA registration will be sent out once plans are finalized).

Alumni Network Series: Meanwhile, with ongoing support from the Angell Foundation, we will provide an Alumni Network series open to any of the previous participants interested in sustaining their work. If you are interested in participating in our Alumni Network, please sign-up here (A link for official MSAA registration will be sent out once plans are finalized).

You can read more about Soul of Leadership at the Courage and Renewal Northeast website. Or feel free to contact me for more information.

Rick Rogers

Soul of Leadership Coordinator

Thirdly, please find this link to the MassGov site with many resources to help families. Thanks to Melissa Threadgill, Director of Juvenile Initiatives for the Office of the Child Advocate for supplying us with this information.

A fourth resource comes from our partners at Jostens, thanks to Ryan Ford and his great team at Jostens for creating materials to help us reopen our schools. Scroll down for the link to Jostens.

Also noteworthy and it is not to late to register for the Massachusetts Downs Syndrome Congress' 36th Annual now Virtual Conference taking place over the course of this week. Click here to register and see the offerings.

On a final note be on the lookout for information from the Commissioner's Office slated to come out this week. MSAA is committed to keeping you in the know regarding these key decisions. As you may recall we have 4 representatives on the Commissioner's working committees. Richard Pearson, MSAA Assistant Executive Director, is our representative to this group as well as Chris Dodge, Principal of Dexter Park Elementary School (Orange Public Schools), Vincent Hayward, Principal of Norton Middle School (Norton Public Schools), and William Terranova, Principal of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School.

Join us for our last All Level Ring Central Gathering Thursday, June 18th at 4:00 PM for the last update.

On behalf of MSAA and Executive Director, Bill Gaine: Stay safe, stay strong and take time for yourself.

Warm Regards,


Beth Wittcoff

MSAA Assistant Executive Director

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Zoom Gatherings

MSAA High School Gatherings Mondays ​ @ 3:00 PM

MSAA Special Education Gatherings Tuesdays @ 11:00 AM

MSAA Assistant Principals every other Tuesday beginning April 28th 2:30 PM

MSAA Middle Level Gatherings Tuesdays @ 3:15 PM

MSAA PK - 6 Gatherings Tuesdays @ 4:00 PM

MSAA ELLs Gathering Thursdays @ 2:00 PM (cancelled)

MSAA All Levels Gathering Thursdays @ 4:00 PM

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