The first of seven sessions of JSI’s NEW LIFE: Nutrition, Education & Wellness: Leadership Institute for Excellence was held at Framingham State University this past Wednesday, April 29th. NEW LIFE sessions focus on knowledge and skill-building programs to change the way school nutrition directors think and act as leaders. Running from April 2015 to June 2016, participants use online discussions and networking, combined with bi-monthly meetings to gain a better understanding of how to advance leadership skills in order to improve the nutrition culture within the school district.
Over this 15-month span, seven sessions will be covered by various school nutrition speakers and instructors:
- Lead Simply…Model.Connect.Involve
- Communication and Team Building
- Marketing and Conflict Resolution
- Improving the School Nutrition and Wellness Environment
- Workplace Diversity
- Time Management
- Public Speaking and Professional Presentations
Janet Schwartz, MS, RD got things rolling with a little history of the school lunch program, reading from one of the first books about school lunches, called “School Lunch” written by Emma Smedley in 1920 (pictured to the right). She then celebrated school nutrition directors as leaders, spokespeople, educators, and the connectors between so many different people, departments, and communities. This session emphasized the importance of school nutrition directors as leaders in the school community and the need to embrace the new release of the USDA Professional Standards in order to educate their school nutrition staff further.
The second portion of the session focused on leadership in the workplace. “Lead Simply…Model.Connect.Involve” is a framework for leadership to create a special team of employees that are actively engaged at work. This framework revolves around modeling the behavior you want to see, connecting with the people you lead, and involving them as much as possible. It is essential, as a school nutrition director, to care to make things better and to create meaningful work in the school cafeteria. Leading by example, which most of these directors already do, is an important way to create a better experience in the workplace for everyone. Talking and listening with staff members can also foster a more honest and conscientious workplace, as staff feel respected and appreciated. Most importantly, school nutrition directors were told to keep it simple and treat others how they want to be treated. Activities and discussions were empowering, as school nutrition directors shared common thoughts and stories from their school kitchens, all exposing their roles as leaders.
If you are interested in other professional development opportunities, check out JSI’s Professional Development page, or if you are looking for resources for your School Nutrition Program, visit the SNP Leadership and Management page in the JSI Resource Center.