Our very first District Leadership program took place in Saint Petersburg Florida, March 16-18 in conjunction with the Bishop Center on Leadership and Ethics at USF-St Pete

Abstract of the Program
Twenty-five educators, from superintendents to principals and three professors, met for three days to discover meaningful affirmative topics within a positive strengths-based change perspective and design generative processes to take home to implement over the next year. Single participants and teams came from seven states – Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina and Vermont – to form an appreciative consortium that will re-convene next February 20 and 21st to share their results and orient a new cadre of certified AOE professionals building positive narratives of public education in their communities. 
Participants Program Evaluation
Two participants, Drs. Edith Beatty, Superintendent of Schools in Lamoille Supervisory Union in Vermont and Carl Lashley, Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro, led the program evaluation and learned that the program participants resonated to the positive strengths-based approach of AOE and the use of appreciative inquiry principles in the discovery and design of change projects for their districts and schools. In their own words, they shared that the program of study and work:
Was energizing and affirming to who they were and what they needed to do to move our districts forward.
Alternated content and activities which applied directly to our work.
Found clarity in the presentations so that we could go home and share our learning with local leaders and staff.
Was “just in time learning.”
Had facilitator support throughout the three days which was instrumental in making progress during the program and while  practicing AI.
Prepared a project with action steps that we will share with CAOE
facilitators in the next five weeks.
Learned from a living case study of AOE in an urban school district.
Provided the opportunity for districts and participants to form a diverse appreciative consortium.
Loved that the program is on-going and required a monthly feedback session and a time to return next year.
One Word or Phrase Reflections:
Perfect timing
Growing the organization and our people
It is a crusade – anointed with a big responsibility to be doing the best I can for my community
Invigorating listening to stories that enabled us to pull our story together
Affirming my work going forward
The promise of the future
I can have voice
Focused and connected
The work you are doing can help organizations elevate themselves to a new level
We leave energized and re-committed to our work
You gave us a toolkit to guide our work together and my department
re-discovered my passion for what I am doing and why I am here
Ready to use the tools we have been given to go down the road
Sharing the room with people who really care about our profession and public education
“A summary statement from an observer emphasized that the best things to wear today are: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love, of which I have seen all week. What is so encouraging is that you are all returning to all parts of the nation to do these things”
Program participants commented that St. Petersburg was charming and rich in surrounding attractions and food choices.
Recruitment for 2017 Program Begins Now
Certification for program completion will be awarded in the February closing meeting next year in St. Pete.

Thank you to all who participated.
–Center for Appreciative Organizing in Education