For the past few years, NJ educators have been fortunate to have one of the trailblazers in Digital Leadership in our state. This September, we will start the school year without Eric Sheninger as a NJ Principal. We certainly wish him well on his new venture, and he will always be a click away, but there will be a part of us that will miss having him in the principal’s office.
As a principal, he was the example that we all pointed to when people would say, “It can be done.!” Over the years it was Eric who opened up social media at his school, began the BYOD initiative, integrated technology to meet the pedagogical needs of the kids, showed us how to “tell our story” and more importantly… why!
As an ambassador for the NJ educators, Eric opened up his school every year for Edscape. He worked with local and national partners to create an environment for the rest of us to present, learn, and connect. By doing this, he flipped learning and the understanding of conferences that were traditional NJ practices for over 150 years.
Anyone who knows Eric, could see how he embodied the spirit of Kouses and Posner’s Five Exemplary Practices in Leadership. Throughout each of the frames, Eric used his experiences and vision to create a 21st century learning environment for all of us to see. In their framework, exemplary leaders:
- Model the way – He set out to model Digital Leadership and appropriate Digital Citizenship
- Inspire a shared vision – Early on, Eric knew that social media tools would connect us and through those connections, improve our practice
- Challenge the process – Eric was determined to break down the barriers to social media
- Enable others to act – Eric initiated countless opportunities for other educators to present, connect, blog
- Encourage the heart – Eric provided support and guidance not only for NJ educators but throughout the world. Chances are, if you had a question or a concern, he had faced it and was able to provide advice
Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, talks about the impact of Level 5 leaders. These leaders, once they move on, have developed the capacity for others to continue to grow and take the organization to the next level. That’s what Eric did for us in NJ. As a trailblazer, he spent countless hours assisting other educators in NJ (and then the world) to become connected. Now, we have a growing number of NJ educators that will continue on his legacy. There will be no leadership vacuum in NJ.
So, as the kids come back to school in NJ this fall, Eric will be taking his message throughout the world as a senior fellow of Leadership in Education through Scholastic. We all (#NJED) wish him the best of luck, and thank him for all he has done!