Byron's Babbles

Are You A Sherpa?

Posted in Coaching, Education, Education Reform, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 4, 2014

Super SherpaThis past week at our Back to School Professional Development and Family Expo I did a session using a case study of the Mount Everest -1996 disaster. I have actually posted about this before. Click here to read Mount Everest Leadership (Part 1) or here to read Mount Everest Leadership (Part 2). Out of this case study session last week two themes really emerged: We need to become the Sherpa’s of high student achievement and “Hoosier Academies Climbs Everest.”

Technically, “Sherpa” refers to an ethnic group of people from Nepal, or those hired to guide mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas.  Thus, most of us cannot hope to become sherpas (though sherpa is sometimes used as a proprietary eponym for those who haul the belongings of others or invoked to imply knowledge of high altitude mountain climbing).  Yet the allure is great–sherpa guides are people, mostly men, who don’t just climb mountains; they were born to climb mountains.  They are physically disposed for this act more than anyone else.  It makes me consider the question: what was I born to do?  What am I physically, mentally, or emotionally equipped for that 99% of the earth’s population is not?

Amazingly, for me I believe that I was born to be an educator – most recently an educational leader. I also really believe our staff came out of our kickoff expo with renewed enthusiasm that they are the ones physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to do what 99% of the population is not – educate children! I am excited for us to be leaving Base Camp today as we start our school year together and begin our summit journey up Mount Everest! The analogy of us as educational leaders to that of a Sherpa is great because they are successful by helping those around them reach their full potential. We must be Sherpa’s of high student achievement for the families and students we serve. Also, great Sherpa’s do not just look up the mountain and say, “Let’s go!” Great leaders carefully plot out each step to ensure a safe and successful trip. I believe we have a great plan and we must now execute with fidelity. Additionally, Sherpa’s routinely deal with unexpected weather, animals, obscured paths, and many other obstacles.  Rather than becoming derailed, they build contingency plans and adapt in real-time.

We all know as leaders that there will be challenges and obstacles and as servant leaders must provide support wherever and whenever it is needed. I am so exited for all of those that have accepted the role of an educational Sherpa to help facilitate a great school year filled with many summits of student success!