Introducing: The Blanchard Leadership Institute

In early October 2020, the Board of Trustees of Brookstone School announced the launch of the Blanchard Leadership Institute. Brookstone has long held a foundational commitment to provide students endless opportunities to grow and thrive, to offer innovative processes that powerfully impact learning, to have a personal approach in all it does, and to always make sure people, families, our community, matter most. The Blanchard Leadership Institute will not only deepen these commitments but will provide students, faculty, and staff a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth, enabling them to lead with greater confidence and conviction.

This inaugural and cornerstone program of the Blanchard Leadership Institute will be led by the world renowned team at The Developmental Edge (TDE), Andy Fleming and Claire Lee, along with their colleagues at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, Dr. Robert Kegan and Dr. Lisa Lahey. In this program, all students, faculty, and staff will participate in the Developmental Sprint® where individuals experience transformative growth, allowing them to meet the ever-increasing demands and challenges facing us today. According to Andy Fleming, “The Sprint is a practice that makes individual development a team sport. It applies ground-breaking research from our Harvard colleagues in a way that leaders and organizations around the world are finding meaningful and scalable in today’s rapidly changing environment.“

Many members of the Brookstone Board of Trustees had worked with Mr. Fleming before as he did similar developmental work with Synovus, which, as a result, has consistently been ranked as a top place to work in the country. They wanted to bring that same experience to Brookstone. So in the fall of 2019, Brookstone’s administrative team had the privilege of participating in its own Sprint. What exactly is a “Sprint?” It is a focused, intensive 4- week-long experience designed to bring about greater team cohesion and both personal and professional growth. 

At the conclusion of the Sprint, the admin team felt it had accomplished exactly that – creating greater cohesion in the administrative team, deeper working relationships, and truly impactful results. In fact, Marty Lester has often said he credits the work of the Sprint for laying the groundwork for our school’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in such an expedient and effective manner. 

Thanks to a generous gift from Jim and Sis Blanchard, who have known Andy Fleming and Claire Lee for a long time, the entire Brookstone community will now benefit from the work of The Developmental Edge. It will be the first partnership of its kind as Brookstone will be the very first school in the world to participate in this type of intensive leadership development. 

The Blanchard Leadership Institute honors Mr. Blanchard’s dedication and devotion to growing leaders at all levels. The Blanchards have a long history of bringing the best and brightest minds here to Columbus, Georgia, and this new endeavor with Brookstone builds on that legacy.  “With good leaders, good things happen,” he says. “We know this program is going to have lasting impacts at Brookstone School.” 

Indeed, it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity for our school. As Billy Blanchard, Chairman of the Board of Trustees said, “It’s really a great testimony to what you have already created here that we are now in a position to go where no independent school has gone before. We are accessing and putting into practice the very best thinking and research into human development.”   

It will also be one more thing that sets Brookstone apart. To have world renowned professors from Harvard University professors working directly with our school, it is truly an opportunity like none other.

As Dr. Robert Kegan said to the faculty in a video greeting, “I am really excited about the journey we are beginning here and very much look forward to helping you build on your already extraordinary culture and community. To my mind, there is no more important institution in our society than the school and I want to salute you for this kind of commitment and investment you are making in the future and for all the constituents in your community.” 

The work will begin this fall with a Pilot Sprint consisting of 70 faculty, staff, and students, launching in mid-October and concluding at the end of November. Then in Spring 2021, the entire school, every faculty member and every student, even down to our youngest three year olds, will participate in a school-wide Sprint. There will even be an opportunity for parents and alumni to take part in the summer. 

This ongoing leadership development will become part of our school culture where students and faculty alike will be taking part in two Sprints every single year. Imagine the tremendous growth that will result as we seek to become a deliberately developmental community. Our hope is that every senior who graduates from Brookstone will leave with a certificate in leadership development from the Blanchard Institute, but this will be more than just a sheet of paper. Our students will be equipped with the skills and self-reflection necessary to unlock the potential not only in themselves, but in their peers. It will truly be transformative in the life of our school. 

In fact in many ways it already has been. Dr. Dale Epperson, longtime Brookstone Upper School science teacher and Dean of Academic Affairs had this to say about his Sprint experience. “In my thirty-eight year tenure at Brookstone, I have been privileged to be able to take part in a multitude of professional development activities.  Some of those were good, some not. The Developmental Sprint that I participated in last fall is the best professional development activity of them all.  For me, it has been a life changing process. The team at The Developmental Edge helped me to identify a personal area that I needed to improve upon and guided me into developing strategies that I still try to employ to this day.  While I am still a work in progress, I am grateful to have had this opportunity.”

It is a sentiment echoed by all the administrators who participated in the Sprint last fall, because we know the impact it will have on our school. As Marty Lester told faculty, “We’re grateful to Jim & Sis Blanchard—no strangers to us here at Brookstone—because this institute will help all of our students, faculty, and staff to reach our full potential and to lead and serve with higher levels of self-knowledge, confidence and conviction.” The possibilities are simply tremendous.  

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