This year, the Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership began an exciting partnership with the Susan McKinnon Foundation with the goal of creating a continual and defined space for like-minded educational pioneers to grow in their understanding of Entrepreneurial Leadership. The Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) was founded in 2010 as a place to not only develop leaders at African Leadership Academy, but also to gather thought-leaders, practitioners, & experts to share Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) across Africa & the world. As the EL approach has continued to take root in classrooms across the continent and around the globe, CEL saw the need to create a space where those passionate about EL could come together and learn from each other. The inaugural Entrepreneurial Leadership for All Symposium united a diverse array of educators through a shared passion, and empowered them with renewed energy and inspiration to continue the change towards a more holistic, entrepreneurially minded, leadership model of education. We created a shared investment in the philosophy that leadership must not only be effective, but also ethical in nature, giving it a moral, net-positive bearing when in action. Participants and facilitators alike strengthened their belief that leaders who possess and master both leadership and entrepreneurial thinking will create long lasting positive change.
The inaugural Symposium drew seventeen participants from nine different countries, and in varying roles across the education spectrum, all bringing their own unique experiences with Entrepreneurial Leadership. Chris Cheney, the Founding Head of School at Leaf Academy in Slovakia, has been working with CEL for the past few years as he built the school’s curriculum with Entrepreneurial Leadership at its core. Chris brought firsthand experience using EL in both a classroom and administrative setting. Another attendee, Caroline Boraya, brought her on-the-ground experience from her three years as a youth mentor and entrepreneurship educator with the Village Africa in Kenya. Other participants, such as the delegation from Germantown Friends School in the United States, had little previous exposure to the Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum and brought a fresh perspective to the conversation. Some attendees had over thirty years of teaching experience, while others were newer to the sector, having been in the classroom for three years or less. Overall, the diversity of ages, nationalities, and professional experiences that characterized the conference attendees led to countless rich and engaging conversations over the course of the symposium. Participants were able to learn from each other’s experience and see how Entrepreneurial Leadership has taken root in learning institutions from the United States to Jordan to Ghana and Mauritius.
Symposium attendees each drew a range of insights from their time, but several themes and takeaways were consistent across participant feedback.
- The EL curriculum’s potential for growth – Educators felt that they could grasp the “curricular possibilities” associated with Entrepreneurial Leadership, envisioning how the program can grow far beyond the boundaries of ALA to enhance education all over the world.
- Inspiration to use EL as the basis for innovation across education – participants were able to view EL as a pedagogy, or “a distinct approach to learning,” rather than as a single topic that needed to be contained in a single course. Upon departure, one participant stated, “I got a taste for the complexity, richness, and potential of the approach.”
Symposium participants also provided valuable feedback on ways that EL For All can grow and improve going forward.
- In depth curriculum and project planning – EL practitioners were eager to focus on creating specific lesson plans that incorporated EL, They sought common classroom practices to create a set of EL focused data points that they could share amongst each other as well as with the administrators of their respective organizations.
- Continued network growth – everyone was anxious to fellowship with and learn from more educators from an even wider variety of organizations. They felt that they could make even more powerful connections by continuing to grow their EL network.
Overall, both participants and facilitators were very pleased with the inaugural Symposium. As he departed, one educator told us, that this was the first professional development conference he attended where he felt like he was leaving with a tangible element of growth. The diversity of attendees that we were able to attract inspired everyone by capturing the international reach that the EL approach has already achieved. Most importantly, the Symposium served to harness the previously-untapped power of this network. Convening educational professionals interested in leadership and entrepreneurial thinking allowed them to celebrate their shared passion and publically commit to support EL for All as it continues to grow.
To find out more about the CEL trainings and conferences that enable the next generation of leadership educators, please visit cel.africanleadershipacademy.org and learn more about our upcoming events!