There is no doubt that Nick Gledich deserves to be named one of Edweeks “Leaders to Learn From.” Nick is a believer. He believes in doing the right things right. He also believes that one of his primary responsibilities is to optimize the utilization of resources to increase achievement. He considers the members of his staff as one of the most important resources and believes that intentionally developing their capabilities can help get that done. Although the award focused on Nick’s Emergency Management planning during the Waldo Canyon fires, it was the structures that Nick provided beforehand that made those things happen. In fact, Nick’s goals, structures and beliefs, have helped him deal with many other hot issues in his district.
Beyond the Fire
When Nick came to District 11 in Colorado, he found leaders in place with good decision-making capabilities. However, acutely aware that the biggest criticisms of education are the lack of collaboration and squandering of resources, he sought to give district personnel the skills that would address those issues. He found that his staff’s decisions lacked future-oriented thinking – there was no planning to mitigate threats or capitalize on future opportunities. He wanted his staff members, at all levels, to be able to provide a rationale for and a plan to protect their decisions. Nick believed that giving his staff a more formalized systematic approach could help bridge the gap by providing visible thinking – the transparency that is needed to share rationale and protect the decision. This, in turn, would allow all stakeholders buy in and the chance to be heard.
Benefits of a strategy
Nick does more than “talk” and “believe”; he invests in developing the district’s greatest asset, his staff. Having been trained himself, he knew that investing in developing the capacity of his staff using TregoEd’s Decision Analysis strategy would bring about many benefits to the district. He states that “Decisions are now made with more comprehensive input, quality thinking and better outcomes.” Using a visible strategy that can be shared with stakeholders has increased buy in, and decreased knee jerk reactions and emotional-driven reactions by stakeholders. He believes that using this more formal and open approach has produced a higher degree of commitment to the decision made. This did not mean that everyone agreed with contentious decisions, such as closing a High School, however, it did allow everyone including staff, students and community members, to understand why this option was the best choice.
Common District Problems
While District 11 has many of the same challenging problems that many districts face today: state budget cuts, alignment of instructional delivery, teacher evaluation, optimizing the utilization of school facilities and resources to support achievement, they have avoided many of the pitfalls of poor decision making and implementation. While the benefits of using DA in highly contentious situations is obvious, Nick feels that using DA to standardize the hiring process for principals, vice principals and teachers has perhaps had the most profound impact in making his district stronger and enabling them to get the right people in key positions. He recognizes the value of excellent decision making at all levels.
Nick Gledich is truly a “Leader to Learn From” because of his district’s response to the Waldo Canyon fires, but it is his commitment and expectations to make visible thinking strategies systemic in his district that made it all possible. We, at TregoED, salute his dedication to his students, staff and community and congratulate him on the well-deserved recognition as Edweek’s Leader to Learn From.