LUSD works on building leaders

By Nancy Gutierrez

At Lindsay Unified School District a student's education does not just depend on the dedication of teachers but the dedication of everyone working around them. An example of this total dedication is Merced Doria, lead maintenance at LUSD.

Doria was selected in April to participate in the Collaborative Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Tulare County Office of Education and First Five of Tulare County. CLI is an 18 month-program that provides county professionals who work directly and indirectly with children 0-5 years old, with opportunities to develop more leadership skills, increase knowledge in a variety of fields and network with other county professionals.

"The institute is designed to ensure continuing vitality of children's service providers by developing emerging leaders and motivating them collaboratively," CLI Director Barry Sommer said.

Instructional agencies nominate key people to participate in the program. For a year-and-a-half these participants learn skills essential for success in their field as it relates to programming for young children as well as learn how to work together. Doria said there are 15 members in this CLI class who are regarded as students or cohorts.

"The cohorts are people from different areas. They are not all from schools," Doria said.

They meet once a month and each of the students must host different events at different sites. Last month Doria and a Strathmore school district employee, Brad Rohrback, teamed together to give a presentation on human resource management.

"The day-long classes cover different topics," Doria said.

He said the topics vary also, and have included informational presentations regarding health dangers for children, like asthma.

"One of the main things I've gotten out of this is learning that there are resources in other places," he said. "Now that we have become a close class, we have learned what and how much everyone else knows. If someone else has issues with maintenance and playgrounds they know they can ask me about it."

Doria was nominated for the program by LUSD superintendent Janet Kliegl.

"Since Merced has been here I've seen great leadership potential in him," Kliegl said. "When he is given any leadership opportunity he has taken it and made things happen."

This is only the second CLI class that TCOE and First Five have sponsored. It was started after Sommer conducted a survey in 2000 with professionals involved in running child service oganizations. Sommers said 90 percent of these people were planning to retire in 10 years. But, only 25 percent identified young leaders that they were grooming to take over these key management positions. Soon after the survey was conducted the first CLI class was chosen.

CLI is made possible through funding from Proposition 10, the tobacco tax initiative, which provides money to First Five of California and its programs.

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