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Column: Plenty to take in at MSBA conference

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- Earlier this month, six of the seven members of the District 518 (Worthington) school board and Superintendent John Landgaard were among more than 1,100 school board members and superintendents that attended the annual Minnesota School Boards Association's (MSBA) leadership conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Sponsors and trade show exhibitors make attendance at the Minnesota conference the only state school board conference in the country that is free except for the attendees' travel expenses, meals and lodging.

The theme of this year's conference was "Building Extraordinary Leaders, Building Trust." The keynote speaker, David Horsager, is a true Minnesotan, born and raised on a Minnesota farm. He was educated and worked in several parts of the world, and now lives in Minnetonka. He spoke at both the opening and closing general sessions, reflecting on how the research he conducted found that leaders of businesses or organizations that used eight pillars of trust were the most successful.

The eight pillars are: clarity; compassion; character; competency; commitment; connection; contribution; and consistency. Everyone left the conference with an understanding of how these eight pillars, when consistently used together. can lead to successful outcomes for their organizations or businesses, including schools.

Before and during the conference 95 different workshops, roundtable discussions and presentations by students, vendors, education leaders, and public officials took place on a wide range of education-related topics. The subjects offered included school finance, laws affecting schools, innovative programs, curriculum, technology and lots more.

Board members could choose from topics like bullying, evaluation of school leaders, physical fitness and learning, communication, health plans and student testing. Many attendees reported that with so many excellent topics, it was extremely difficult to choose which ones to attend.

Sometime in the near future the school board, administration and some staff will meet to hear about some of the information learned at the leadership conference and discuss which, if any, of the information garnered would be relevant and beneficial to the Worthington district.

The purpose of MSBA is to support, promote and enhance the work of public school boards and public education in Minnesota. The annual leadership conference is one of the primary ways. District 518 is a member of MSBA and uses many of its services including board education and training, the model policy manual and legislative and lobbying updates. More information about MSBA and presentations made at the leadership conference can be found at

Linden Olson is a member of the District 518 Board of Education.