School Business Affairs February 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | FEBRUARY 2020 5 L ast month, I addressed the Equity aspect of my president’s theme for the year (Equity. Empathy. Empower- ment.) by sharing a lesson my mom taught me about taking care of others who may not have access to what we have. This month, I’d like to share why I chose Empow- erment as another focus of my theme. Several years ago, a school bus in our district slid down a hill when the gravel on the edge of the rural road gave way. As the bus slid, it took down a power pole and then landed on its side. My superintendent requested that I respond on site. When I arrived, the police had closed off a section of road and would not allow me to pass. I asked if they wanted help supervising the students who had been on the bus. The incident commander decided it would be help- ful to have a connection to the school district and instructed an officer to drive me to the accident scene. When we arrived, there were at least a dozen ambulances, fire trucks, and paramedic units. Ten students had already been taken by ambulance to the hospital; 40 students were alongside the road waiting and getting restless. I was the only one there to supervise them, and I didn’t know any of the students’ names. This was the beginning of the HIPPA era, and the fire department personnel refused to share the names of the students who had left by ambulance due to privacy concerns. The remaining students were waiting to reunite with their parents whom police had kept off site due to the downed powerlines. I noticed that one young man was being encouraged by his peers to be disruptive. I had two choices: call him out for bad behavior or ask for his help in keeping everyone safe. I chose the latter. I told him I could see his lead- ership capabilities and asked if he would help me by collecting the names of the students who were there so we could coordinate their parent pickup. His mind shifted. He went from goofing off to acting like a man on a mission. Then the behavior of the whole group of students shifted. They went from joking around and whooping it up on the side of the road to rec- ognizing the emergent nature of the situation. The student not only collected the names of the students on site, he added the names of students who had walked home and the stu- dents who had left in ambulances. Empowerment: A meaningful leadership component in our daily work. I learned a lot that day. I learned growth mindset matters. When you believe in students and give them leadership responsibility, they will rise to the occasion. The same is true for staff. After the incident, the superintendent and I had a debriefing with the police and fire chiefs to set up better incident command procedures, including our mutual sharing of student and parent information. Empowerment. A meaningful leadership component in our daily work. Empowerment invites courage. “Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver”— Brené Brown The Empowerment Imperative By Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO president’s message Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Deputy Superintendent, Business &Operations Portland (Oregon) Public Schools Tom Wohlleber, CSRM Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 2020 Board of Directors Ed Chabal Vice President David Ginsberg Director through 2022 Susan Harkin, SFO Director through 2021 Ryan Stechschulte Director through 2022 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021 David J. Lewis Executive Director