Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
Senior Army leaders and secondary school education experts met at Fort Leavenworth Nov. 2-4 for the fourth annual U.S. Army Leadership and Professional Development Symposium, which is a partnership between the Army and two organizations — the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American School Counselor Association.
The symposium agenda for the first working day began with a guided walking tour of the Lewis and Clark Center. Senior military leaders gave remarks followed by roundtable discussions with NASSP and ASCA members.
“We want our soldiers and leaders to be able to think creatively and critically solve problems using the ethical standards we have established,” Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, told the group during the senior leader segment.
The NASSP has a long-standing commitment to student leadership development. NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society and National Association of Student Councils.
With a membership of school counseling professionals from around the world, ASCA focuses on providing professional development for its membership, enhancing school counseling programs across the field and researching effective school counseling practices.
“The one major thing that we (military leaders) are known for in the civilian world is that we are thought to be autocratic leaders — do it because I told you to do so, do it because I am the leader — and, there couldn’t be anything further from the truth in reality,” said Maj. Gen. Chris Hughes, commanding general of Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Ky. “We are a very open and collegial force. We have mutual trust, up and down the chain of command.”
The annual symposium also directly supports the mission focus of Regular Army and Army Reserve recruiting activities for officers, enlisted and civilians.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have to tell you that the Army is not the stereotypical ‘last resort’ career choice,” Brig. Gen. Donna Martin, the deputy commanding general of Recruiting Command, told the group. “It is really tough to get into the Army. As an example, only three of every 10 high school applicants will qualify to serve in our Army today.”
During the three days of interactions and meetings, the leaders discussed various best practices in leadership development. The roundtable discussion sessions also allowed an open exchange of ideas about functional and effective educational practices that could be of benefit to both students and schools alike.
“There is clear recognition in the Army that we have to always continually improve,” said Brig. Gen. Eugene LeBouf, deputy commanding general of Army University. “That’s what Army University is about — incorporating the best practices in the field of education. Developing a learner-focused and learner-centric environment that is continuous and progressive. This is a change of culture in terms of learning. Learning doesn’t stop when you exit the classroom.”
Page 2 of 2 - NASSP attendees gained a different perspective on leadership from their Army hosts.
“The group of leaders from the NASSP membership are all principals of the year in their respective states, and they are all further distinguished in various ways,” said Jana Frieler, past NASSP president. “During one of the senior leader roundtable discussions, we were challenged to look at leadership from a different lens. Among examples discussed was learning to provide leadership development opportunities for the people we work with. Leadership is a huge responsibility, but there are numerous positive residual benefits.”
The ASCA is the school counseling division of the American Counseling Association and has members around the world.
“We represent 102,000 school counselors. Rather than simply approach the work of a school counselor one dimensionally, we view this work as a more broad conversation with an emphasis on finding multiple post-secondary opportunities for all students, regardless of career path after high school,” said Jill Cook, assistant director of the ASCA. “Using real school data as the driver of your goals produces incredible results like higher graduation rates, less absenteeism, more college applications completed, more qualified military candidates. What this symposium also provides us with, as school counselors, is real information and knowledge about all of the various opportunities that the military has to offer students.”
The Army Marketing Research Group facilitates the symposium as a way to inform the American people and motivate the most qualified candidates to consider Army service.
“The Army has a strategic partnership with the NASSP and ASCA in working toward achieving our shared and similar goals regarding working with young adults. We share the desire to help young people be successful in life and become productive adult citizens,” said Kelley Mustion, Army Marketing Research Group education manager. “We also provide tangible information about the real opportunities that the Army offers. All of the various program elements and sessions that make up the agenda of our symposium serve as viable resources to our partners.”