The Day I Became an ASCD Emerging Leader

It was Friday, May 16th.

That day, I was demonstrating close reading strategies I learned from the professional book Falling in Love with Close Reading. The teacher and I specifically created lessons on how to read closely for word choice. We introduced the lesson using a popular 2013 Super Bowl commercial and an article about the Nigerian girls who had recently been kidnapped. Overall, the lesson went well, but we struggled with keeping all of the students engaged. It was “Prom Day” — anyone who has taught high school knows exactly what that energy is like. After reflecting on the lesson together, I went back to to the media center (my “office” at each of my schools), debriefed with the media specialist on the Tech Bytes training we offered on the previous day, and I began checking my e-mail.

I saw an e-mail from ASCD.

Here is the funny part. You know how you sometimes just skim an e-mail when you are rushing through things. That is exactly what I did (bad literacy coach, I know!). I thought it said that I wasn’t chosen. I had applied the year before, and I did not get selected then. I closed the e-mail (but, thankfully, did not delete it.)

Later on, I re-opened it to get a better sense of its contents. That is when I saw the word Congratulations! I literally jumped out of my seat. I hugged my friend, the media specialist, and when, she asked me why, I told her that I had just received fantastic news (ASCD asked us to keep our selections confidential until the official ASCD press release). If you are unfamiliar with the ASCD Emerging Leaders program, you can learn more about it here.

It all happened on a normal day.

For the next several minutes I thought about what a great opportunity was ahead of me. I will be attending the ASCD L2L (Leader to Leader) conference later this month. I am most excited about the opportunities I will have to network with ASCD leaders, including the 2014 Class of ASCD Emerging Leaders. Already several former and new ASCD Emerging Leaders have contacted me. In my mind, I keep envisioning a “Community of 45.” Lately, I’ve been listening to the ASCD Whole Child Podcast, and I have heard frequent host Sean Slade discussing the concept of the classroom as a “Community of 30,” meaning that all students have a voice and important role in the learning in the community. I hope that each member of our 2014 Emerging Leaders group will share his or her voice, knowledge, and skills to contribute to the enhancement of our group as whole. I believe that together we are better.

So, back to the day that I became an ASCD Emerging Leader.

Did I go into the next class even better, knowing that I was an “ASCD Emerging Leader”? Well, let’s just say the last class of the day on “Prom Day” is no one’s shining moment. However, lots of learning occurred. My colleague and I probably learned more than that particular group of students.  But, we planned together for how to move learning forward on Monday.  We implemented new strategies  to foster student accountability, and we selected new engaging narrative texts based upon students’ feedback.

You see, I believe collaboration is the key to getting better, and I can’t wait to collaborate with the team of Emerging Leaders when I get to ASCD L2L.

7 thoughts on “The Day I Became an ASCD Emerging Leader

  1. Matt Townsley

    From one 2014 Emerging Leader to another, congratulations! I, too, was shocked to receive the news. I am sad that I am unable to attend L2L this year, but look forward to meeting you in the future.

    As a former high school math teacher, I can relate to the “Prom Day” environment in a high school . I don’t know if it’s a Midwest thing or not, but we sometimes experience a similar week full of fun during fall homecoming. Making the most of it and having fun with the students was the only way I found to get through it while keeping the learn-o-meter high.

    Rock on,

    1. Kenneth McKee Post author

      Congratulations to you, Matt! I work in a few schools, so homecoming week differs from place to place. There is one school that feels like I stepped into a teen movie when it’s homecoming. It’s really unbelievable. I’m sorry that we will miss you at L2L, but I look forward to other opportunities to learn from you (in person or online) in the future.

  2. Nicole Lemme

    Hi Kenny (and Matt!),

    I love how you described the feeling when you saw the word “Congratulations.” When I got the email, a giant (shocked!) grin spread ear to ear and my mind started swimming with possibilities.

    I look forward to developing as an Emerging Leaders community, and collaborating as co-learners. It’s just the beginning!

    Warm Regards,

  3. Eric Bernstein

    Hi Kenny (and Matt & Nicole!),

    I’d be lying if I told you that you were wrong to be excited! I’m now an Emerging Leader alum (Class of 2012), but once and Emerging Leader, always an Emerging Leader. The people I have met have become not only an invaluable professional learning network, but also some of my closest friends.

    I have no doubt that you will make great connections with your class and know that all of us in “the Emerging Leader network” are not (and forever) in “Your network!” I look forward to meeting you at L2L (this year and/or beyond).

    My deepest congratulations and welcome to “OUR Emerging Leader network” and the community of leaders that are a part of ASCD.

    Eric Bernstein (EL 2012)

    1. Kenneth McKee Post author


      I’m excited to begin. There have been a few Emerging Leaders from prior classes who have already reached out to me. It definitely feels like an awesome group. I look forward to meeting you at L2L.


  4. Lori Stollar

    Hi Kenny,
    From an Emerging Leader coach, I say welcome! Being a coach has allowed me to make great connections as well with the Emerging Leader classes. I love the energy and passion that the group embodies. Congrats on your acceptance and I look forward to meeting you at L2L.
    All the best,
    PASCD President and Emerging Leader Coach


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