March 2021 Leadership Spotlight

Empower Leadership is on a mission to inspire 1 Million Leaders! Doing so requires connections with people who share in our passion to lead, inspire, and empower! Each month, we will shine the “leadership spotlight” on a leader to showcase the tremendous work they do in their community. The March 2021 Leadership Spotlight shines on Kiley F. Testa – Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin University (CTRA).

Introducing Kiley Testa from CTRA

In August 2010, Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin University quickly become my second home. Fast forward to 2021, and I have been on campus for 11 years, often saying to myself, “I have the best job in the building”. I have the opportunity to walk into our school, support young people by recognizing their gifts, creating programs to develop our scholars’ passions, and creatively problem solving the world of high school education.

Schools don’t typically have a position like mine, but CTRA honors community growth, family engagement, and fostering student success both in and out of the classroom. My role allows me the opportunity, through program development and implementation, to connect with our scholars, their families, and our community. I have the pleasure of working with scholars to build on their strengths and explore opportunities of interest. I get to work with families and advocate for their needs while being the bridge between classroom teachers and parents/guardians. Additionally, I have the pleasure of presenting about our school, our campus, and the opportunities we offer prospective scholars and their families as they search for the right high school education!

How does leadership play a role for you personally in your day-to-day responsibilities at CTRA?

Leadership is about being present, bringing energy, asking hard questions, and always looking for opportunities to celebrate and areas to drive progress. Day to day, I try to lead by example – checking in with myself and what I want to accomplish for the day as well as checking in with our team and seeing how I can support the daily tasks of our school. Leaders have an end goal and a vision on how to arrive there. I constantly assess our progress and strive to make connections that will allow our students to live our mission!

How does CTRA develop leaders?

The mission of CTRA is for all students to contribute to a just and sustainable world. This does not happen overnight or all at once; but sometimes, all students need is a chance. A chance to find out what their passion is, or how to develop an interest, or the steps it takes to get involved. It takes a school to build a safe place, to foster a sense of community, and allow scholars and educators alike to share in challenges and successes.

Together, it is our mission for scholars, and educators, to continue to make contributions to a more just and sustainable world. To do that, our daily work focuses on student growth and development – we support young adults in seizing an opportunity, whether it be small or large. Our scholars have the ability to explore what they are passionate about and then put it to action – maybe by creating a club, coordinating a Magnet Theme Day, or an advisory lesson. Celebrating the voice of our scholars and providing a wide range of opportunities for our scholars is a beautiful way to see new leaders emerge!

Describe a leadership challenge you face in your position at CTRA and some strategies you have implemented to help overcome that challenge and thrive.

I have the great opportunity of working with a lot of different personalities and thinkers. I have been able to learn to honor how different people see a task, think about a task, and execute a task. My biggest challenge is practicing patience and allowing progress to happen over time. I think I have been able to overcome this by knowing what our goals are and always reminding myself of those goals. We are a young school doing great work, and sometimes we need to sit back and enjoy some of the successes and moments of greatness.

Describe your favorite elements of leadership as part of your position at CTRA.

I LOVE watching and being present when a scholar has an “ah-ha” moment. It is one of the coolest things to experience! Knowing that I may have played a small role in building that scholar’s passion is why I do what I do. I love when, after a scholar takes part in one of our programs or events, comes to us with more ideas on how to get involved or ideas to share with their home town communities and their families. I love seeing scholars become energized to be part of our community by participating in one of our many “out of classroom” opportunities!

Shine the Leadership Spotlight on a Leader in Your Community!

Do you know of someone who excels at leading, inspiring, and empowering? Complete our nomination form to recognize a teacher, coach, co-worker, or community leader for our monthly Leadership Spotlight recognition!

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