BOE members attend Birmingham conference

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – Two Demopolis Board of Education members joined representatives from school systems across the state at an Oct. 23-24 conference in Birmingham.

Bobby Armstead and Laura Foster attended the two-day training seminar designed to help board members and superintendents engage their communities, strategically work with the media and successfully build relationships with key community entities.

“I’ve gone to a lot of these conferences already,” Armstead said. “So this was kind of a refresher course.”

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Armstead said he continues to attend the sessions because he looks forward to learning something new.

“We’ll learn some things that we can bring back to the chairman,” he said. “And sometimes an issue may come up that I might know more about because I attended the seminar and it’ll click better to me.”

According to Foster, the board members learned from guest speakers as well as each other during the two-day period.

“I wish all of the board members could’ve been a part of at least some of the training,” she said. “We heard about what other systems are doing and it was great to network and toss ideas around.”

The conference featured sessions led by Lew Armistead, a communication expert from Maryland, Bill Branch, CEO of a Michigan-based research firm, Tommy McDaniel, president of the Alabama Association of School Boards and a host of state BOE presidents.

“Even if it’s the same topic, every speaker has a different view of things,” Armstead said.

Conference participants also received credit for attending the seminar that will count toward reaching one of the Academy’s four achievement levels.

Although Armstead is a level-three board member, Foster has yet to reach her first level since becoming a board member in June 2004.

“That’s another reason why I went,” Armstead said. “Getting to the fourth level gives you a certain distinction and it makes you a bit more prestigious.”

In addition to distinction and prestige, Foster said becoming clear on what the BOE is meant to do is another positive aspect.

“You learn what your true role is and how to change your policy when the current one is no longer viable for your system.”