Can We Always Be Emerging as Leaders? A Recap of the NCPDK 2016 Emerging Leaders Conference

Emerge by definition means move out of or away from something and come into view: “black ravens emerged from the fog”.  This word “emerge” was recently redefined for me as a leader. As I spent my second year as an “Emerging Leader” with the North Carolina Phi Delta Kappa (NCPDK) educational organization, I felt like the “black raven emerging from the fog”.

I am a firm believer that we all have a voice to be heard that is worthwhile and empowering to those willing to listen. We came together, a group of 25 leaders to affirm, inspire, mediate, and AIM HIGH! And all of that was accomplished in two days.

We began emerging together with our visions.  Focusing on a “Vision Board”, we set out to spend the weekend defining our own Visions. In the blog post, The Reason Vision Boards Work and How to Make One, by Elizabeth Rider she emphasizes that,

“Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do.”  

We decided to work on our vision boards using whatever medium felt right. At first I was not convinced of the value in this activity.  What I later learned is how wrong my initial thoughts were.  This “Vision Board” embodied a reflection of who we were and WHY we do what we do as Educators. By the end of our two days, these vision boards were more than poster boards and cut up magazine pictures.  More than a digital representation of our dreams and beliefs.  These boards were personal, thought provoking and a two day work of reflection.  As we shared our boards we “laughed, cried, and learned” as one of my favorite keynote speakers George Couros @gcouros says .  Our relationships were solidified in a way that would not have been possible without this activity. Thank you Rebecca McKnight for this activity that enriched the weekend’s activities.

Our first session of the day: Building a Professional Learning Network: 


Led by Kyle Hamstra, we continued to focus on relationships and the connections we as educators make outside of the four walls we are typically confined to.  I could see the many light bulbs turning on in the minds of those who were once skeptics of the power of a “connected educator”.  Kyle used the book “What Connected Educators Do Differently” by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas,  to springboard many of our discussions.  Amazing discussions emerged and a hands on type of learning evolved.  Every participant in the room, at the end of the session, knew they were destined for greatness if they started using Twitter.  As Kyle Hamstra continues to remind us,

“We are all #winners in our PLN”.

We continued our learning with Fearless Leadership


Rebecca McKnight had us focus on the question,

“What does it mean to lead fearlessly?”

Much of our time was spent digging deep into defining leadership.  We were left reflecting on our “why”.  Powerful reflecting and discussion once again.

After a much needed break to refuel our souls, we dove into Innovative Leadership with Cheryl McCrorey


and Leslie Harris (Presentation HERE.).  

Focused around the two books The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and Hacking Leadership by Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis.  These two books inspired reflection on what innovation looks like, feels like, and most importantly how do we lead with innovation in mind.


Next up, Christy Stanley, with her energy and expertise, brought a thought provoking topic to the forefront,

How can you use your influence? The Aha Moment for me in this presentation was the “Lollipop Moment” and focus on reflection around these questions: 

Have you been a catalyst for someone?

Is there someone you want to be a catalyst for?

Has someone been one for you?

Have you told them?

Drew Dudley delivers a TedEx Talk that really made me think about redefining leadership. It was amazing and inspiring.  He says,

“Leadership is not bigger than us. We need to value the impact we have on each others lives. Leadership is about “lollipop moments” …how many of them we create, how many we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward and how many of them we say thank you for.”

You must find 6 mins to watch Drew Dudley’s inspiring words on how to find your “Lollipop Moments”.

To end our day of laughing, crying, and thinking, Leslie Kinard, explodes with her presentation Gritty Leadership: What’s Your Leadership Passion?

As Leslie circled the room, her “Gritty Leadership” awokened our unearthed passions we were all looking to find inside ourselves. She shared a video Impose your Will,  featuring Inky Johnson: What will you do when adversary hits your life! This is when you have to Impose your Will.

Embrace the process. Inky Johnson is a survivor who perserveres and shows what true Grit really is.  After our roller coaster ride of learning, Leslie leaves us with LEAD WITH GRIT – LEAVE YOUR LEGACY and a Beyonce video that has a resonating message:

I wanna leave my footprint on the sands of time
Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets,
Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget
I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here
I want to say I lived each day, until I die
And know that I meant something in somebody’s life
The hearts I have touched will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see
I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here
I just want them to know
That I gave my all, did my best
Brought someone to happiness
Left this world a little better just because
I was here

Read more: Beyonce Knowles – I Was Here Lyrics | MetroLyrics

We ate dinner, reflected, rested our minds and woke to our final meeting filled with bittersweet moments  of  more learning and celebrations of new beginnings and tearful goodbyes of 25 emerging leaders.  

Our last session was led by myself and Marlow Artis.  BreakoutEdu is an amazing learning tool to wake creativity, critical thinking and problem solving all in to one activity. I watched groups of 8 work diligently to solve the puzzles together.  The relationship building alone was priceless. It was the perfect ending to the perfect weekend of learning.

As the Black Raven emerging from the fog, I felt renewed, energized, and most of all ready to share my learning with the world!


To follow the weekend on Twitter, click on this Storify link:

3 thoughts on “Can We Always Be Emerging as Leaders? A Recap of the NCPDK 2016 Emerging Leaders Conference

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  1. Wow! Very well done, Melanie! Your hard work and attention to detail are very much appreciated. Love having these resources organized so neatly and chronologically, enhanced with your perspectives at each step along the way. I especially loved how we were up and moving around, learning through the 4Cs in BreakOutEdu. Wonderful experience!


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