Board Training & Development

The VSBA Academy - Board Development & Training Opportunities

For information about board development and training, contact Samantha Bosserman, director of communications and board development,

Through the "VSBA Academy", the VSBA offers individualized professional development activities designed for Virginia school boards. In addition to custom training, the following topics are offered by the VSBA:

  • Strategic Planning: Developing & Implementing Focused Plans of Action
    A purposeful strategic plan is thoughtfully designed and thoroughly implemented. In this session, participants will work through a basic framework that can be used for the strategic planning process, moving from the assessment and review of student achievement and current practices to the development of long-range plans that include specific action plans. Strategies for monitoring the plan will be shared.

  • Governance: Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities of the Leadership Team
    An effective leadership team is made up of members with a range of responsibilities from strategic to operational. In this session, participants will compare and contrast the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the superintendent. Challenges faced by board members as they strive to work at the strategic level will be discussed and strategies for fulfilling their governance role will be shared.

  • Facilitated Board Self-Evaluation
    Board self-evaluation provides more than just accountability and communication. It provides an opportunity for building the best possible leadership for the division and community. Commitment to quality, excellence, continuous learning, and local control of the educational system is demonstrated when boards lead by example. The VSBA has developed a facilitated self-evaluation process that will assist your board in its continuing commitment to focus on and increase student achievement.

  • New Superintendent: Building a New Governance Team
    After spending much time to recruit and select a new superintendent, boards often spend very little time on orientation. This session is designed to provide time for board members and the superintendent to review governance structures and discuss board protocols and procedures. For those divisions that utilize the VSBA Superintendent Search service, this session is included as part of the search.

  • Operations: Establishing Board Norms and Protocols (The Way We Do Business)
    Effective boards don’t just appear, they are developed. One means of developing an effective and efficient board is to create board norms and protocols that serve as a means of communicating beliefs, processes, and best practices. In this session, participants will reflect on their current practices and protocols. Examples will be provided and reviewed with plans made for any changes and revisions to the board’s current protocols. Systems for evaluating board procedures and effectiveness will also be shared.

  • Superintendent’s Evaluation: Developing and Implementing Models that Meet the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Guidelines
    A quality superintendent evaluation system serves as a link between the board and the superintendent, clarifying expectations and establishing a means to provide professional feedback on performance.  In this session, participants will compare their current evaluation model to the VDOE Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Superintendents. Each component of the Virginia model will be reviewed and discussed in detail.

  • Data: Using Data to Make Informed Decisions
    Board members are surrounded by data – from student achievement, to personnel certifications, to budget figures. Reports abound. In this session, participants will discuss what type of data they receive and how they use it to inform decisions. Emphasis will be placed on developing strategic questions and identifying data that is needed to measure progress toward goal achievement.

  • Media Relations 101: Optimizing Media Relationships to Proactively Generate Press Coverage
    Media relations must be a key component of every division’s communications program. In this session, attendees will learn how and when to use media alerts and press releases appropriately, the differences between print, radio and television media interviews, definite “do's and don'ts” when being interviewed, message development considerations, and specific interview strategies. We will address techniques for participants to use when being interviewed about positive news stories, as well as more challenging ones such as NCLB mandates, state test results, and budget challenges

  • Communications Planning: Developing & Implementing a Division-Wide Communications Program
    The call for greater “transparency” is ultimately a call for greater “communication”, and proactive communications plans are a necessity for all divisions. During this session, attendees will (1) Learn what public relations is and why school divisions are increasingly making it a priority; (b) Establish that brand is not a bad word, and that it ultimately comes down to the division’s promise to its stakeholders; (c) Examine specific steps for division leadership to develop a proactive communications plan that is functional and realistic; and (d) Identify specific strategies and tactics that can be used immediately to enhance communications with division stakeholders.

Participants in VSBA Academy board development sessions receive VSBA Academy credits, which help earn members VSBA Academy Awards!


VSBA Master Board Program

The VSBA Master Board Program emphasizes team and trust building, communications, managing change, ethics, and working together as a team to benefit every child in your school division. Once all three courses are completed, the School Board will be designated a “VSBA Master Board” and recognized at the VSBA Annual Convention. Certificates after each completed course will also be provided. Each session is four hours in length and will be facilitated by an experienced trainer at the school division’s choice of location. The core sessions include;

  • Building Our Team - This course serves as the foundational course for the VSBA’s Master Board program. Board members will identify characteristics of effective teams and examine the board’s style as individual team members. The importance of trust will be explored as well as factors that influence trust. Participants will explore means of increasing board/team effectiveness.
  • Improving Communication Part I: Listening and Understanding - A key component of team work is communication. This course will provide board members with the opportunity to explore difficulties in and barriers to effective communication as well as essential conditions for effective communication. Values and ideas will also be explored.
  • Improving Communication Part II: Responding and Behaving - A follow-up to Part I, Part II will focus on the proper ways to provide feedback and respond to questions and comments. This course will also cover board behaviors and how to build a strong board through communication.