Developing Superior Turnaround Leaders

Eighteen Putnam County School District leaders recently participated in a unique opportunity facilitated by the Eckerd College Leadership Development Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Developing Superior Turnaround Leaders program was funded with a grant specifically designed to build and expand the district’s turnaround leader pipeline.

The three day program was conducted on the Eckerd College campus June 8-10, and included large group discussions, small-group activities, and a two hour individual coaching session with an executive coach for each Putnam leader. The program’s components covered building team consensus, managing conflict, strengthening communication, and the power of strengths-based leadership.

The newly assigned principal of Middleton-Burney Elementary, Tiffany Scranton, said it was “an affirming experience to be surrounded by professionals who all believe in the power of Putnam. We were able to create a safe space of growth and enrich our communication and conflict resolution skills through engaging activities.” 

Sarajean McDaniel is the district’s Executive Director of Leadership Development and was celebrated as the 2020 Florida Principal of the Year for her work improving William D. Moseley Elementary School. “The skill set and requirements of a turnaround leader can seem overwhelming when you are isolated at a school site,” stated McDaniel. “These three days reminded us that we are never alone and that there is a variety of leadership talent among our Putnam leaders. Self and peer evaluations affirmed our individual strengths and provided an opportunity to challenge and grow ourselves.”

District leaders view turnaround principals as instructional leaders with the ability to transform a school’s low-performing culture and systems to one that demonstrates academic excellence. Academic excellence is one of the district’s areas of focus in the 2021-26 Strategic Plan. 

Pictured above: Beth Leary, Tim Adams, Mechele Higginbotham, Beth Nelson, Jonathan Hinke, Cindy Bellamy, Michael Chaires, Amber Symonds, Tony Benford, Paula Adams, JT Stout, Stephanie Reed, Cathy Oyster, Tina Gilyard, Sarajean McDaniel, Chris Lee, Tiffany Scranton, and Joy Eubanks.