Christian Leadership to Change the World
Regent Leaders in the World: Adrian Thomason
CBN.com Adrian Thomason, a public school principal in Canton, Ga., continues his quest for excellence as an educational leader. Packing an M.A. in Education and a Doctorate in Education from Regent University, Thomason recently participated in the Harvard University Principal Center’s Summer Institute—one of only 176 principals selected from around the world. He jokingly calls his experience “Nerd Camp” and proudly claims the title. “Regent gave me the confidence,” Thomason reflects. “I said, ‘Why wouldn’t Harvard take me? Look at what I went through at Regent ... the rigor, the breadth.’ “While attending last summer’s session with educational leaders from around the world, Thomason found himself intellectually prepared to sit at such a table of reform. “The dissertation process taught me how to think deeply, not just react from old mindsets,” he says.
Thomason taught in the middle grades for a few years before selecting a university through which to earn his M.A. and ultimately his Ed.D. Comparing the educational offerings of various schools, Thomason selected Regent. During the interview process Dr. Linda Grooms, associate professor in the School of Education, confirmed that Thomason’s doctoral program would combine a thorough academic program with a Christian worldview. Once involved in his studies, Thomason observed a team approach as the faculty worked with the students. “Everybody said, ‘Let’s look at this in terms of how it will help you reach your goals,’ “Thomason recalls.
Leading a staff of 66 at a large middle school, Thomason reflects on what he has learned about the nature of quality leadership. “If the leadership is not innovative, the organization will not reach its full potential.” In his first year as a principal, he found himself using a more direct approach than he usually prefers. Having invited the parents and staff to lay out their concerns, Thomason knew he had to jump in and make precise decisions while striving to build purpose and vision for his new faculty. With that well-defined initiation behind him, he has now turned to a more collaborative model, pulling together a capable leadership team to help navigate the challenges. “Whatever the situation requires, we have to be flexible enough to fill the role,” he states.
“My training at Regent has forced me to think deeply and broadly about public education and myself as a leader.” As he contemplates the pressures of educational leadership in today’s climate of testing and accountability, Thomason remarks, “The demands don’t compare to the rewards.” His administrative style includes not only being a public face of the school, but being personally engaged in the lives of students and teachers. Even with a student body over 800, Thomason’s goal is to know as many of the youngsters as possible. He has even carved out time to meet with some struggling young men in need of a positive male role model. Thomason believes his responsibility is to set an example for his students and staff. “I believe kindness and love are beyond religion,” Thomason says.
He knows that some people may think of secular education as a restrictive environment, but he does not. Following the desires of his heart, Thomason chooses to serve in the public arena, aspiring to someday expand his role at a high school and perhaps in superintendency. Looking for godly understanding, he seeks wisdom that doesn’t come from man. His motto: “Use wisdom in the way you let your light shine.”
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