PLC Leadership Freaks at Northwest AEA

For the past four years, the Northwest AEA staff has engaged in the practice of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). The PLCs have been vital in allowing our employees to explore their professional strength or content area of practice. On May 8th, each PLC will share their learning with peers at an employee recognition/PLC day. This practice has been well-received and provides content expertise that some of our folks would not have had time to pursue on their own.

The administrative team also participates in the PLC practice. This year, we were “leadership freaks.” Dan Rockwell has a daily blog titled, "Leadership Freak," that the administrators subscribed to through e-mail at Each day, a short update is sent with ideas regarding leadership tips.

This year's administrator team consisted of myself; Dr. Pam Barry, director of educational services; Liz Determan, communications coordinator; Katy Evenson, administrator of educational and media services; Wayne Hess, chief financial officer; Jim Gorman, director of special education; Jerome Schaefer, human resources manager; and Jon Wibbels, director of media and information technology. It was good to learn each others' philosophies on leadership and how leadership styles are put into practice at Northwest AEA.

By meeting weekly, it allowed us to explore dozens of leadership and coaching opportunities. We talked about many things, but culture was a popular topic during our discussions. This led us to taking six weeks to read the book Soup by Jon Gordon. Soup explores all of the ingredients needed for a great workplace culture.

A couple of other PLCs at the AEA have also been studying workplace climate and culture. During this time, we found out that Heartland AEA had done a culture survey of their employees. After exploring their practice and reading more about culture, we contracted with a survey company to find out the strengths and areas of improvement for Northwest AEA. We just received those results and will be studying how we can improve our culture and climate at our agency.  

The administrators' "deeper dig" into culture and climate is a perfect example of how the PLC project allows individual work teams to examine their areas of expertise. PLCs have been highly successful and rewarding for our staff, and it is something you might want to consider in your own roles. On a side note, Northwest AEA will offer PLC trainings next year with Maria Nielsen, which will align nicely with our practice, too.

Thanks for another great year
On another note, as another school year draws to a close, I want to thank you for your hard work and commitment to children and families. Please think of all the milestones you were part of this past school year and give yourself and those around you a pat on the back! Thanks for all you do and enjoy your summer season!

Check out the Connections blogs
As always, be sure to check out our blogs, which we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work:

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided on the Northwest AEA website).

Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator