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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

At twenty-eight years old, I was offered the privilege to lead one of the best high school English departments in my state.  I was terrified.  What did I know about leadership?  The answer was pretty simple.  Nothing.  I knew nothing about leadership.  But I knew teaching, and I loved learning. And I did not want to let down my department.  So I worked hard to earn their trust, to advocate for their needs and to provide them opportunities to learn.  Miraculously, this introverted, tentative educator discovered ways to inspire others to dream, learn and become more, and our department thrived.

As a new supervisor, I had many supportive in-district colleagues who guided my decision-making and showed me how to be successful.  However, I also attribute much of my success as a literacy leader to the Conference on English Leadership (CEL).  Introduced to the organization by my former supervisor, Helen Poole, I knew I had found a professional home where I could go and ask the tough questions.  I attended my first CEL Convention in 2003; I have only missed one in the last 11 years.  The conventions bring the brightest literacy educators in our field to share what they know and how to implement it in schools, a crucial component for any supervisor or coach.  These three days have generated more ideas and contacts than any other professional organization in which I have been involved.  If you have never attended a CEL Annual Convention, please mark your calendars for November 23 – 25, 2014 and join us in Washington D.C. where we will discuss “Leading in a Collaborative World.”

However, CEL continues to seek ways to expand its opportunities to support literacy leaders as they work.  Last year, we launched a monthly Twitter chat, #LitLead, which discusses topics of interest to literacy educators on second Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET.  We post on the Connected Community available via the National Council of Teachers of English web page.  And now, we have our blog, which we will invite you to read and comment on each week.  CEL members will post their thoughts, ideas and strategies for leading literacy.  We look forward to the conversations and the community.

For more information about CEL, go to our web page at  To become a member of CEL, simply subscribe to the English Leadership Quarterly on the NCTE web page.  It costs $25 a year.

Heather Rocco
CEL Sponsorship Coordinator
Supervisor of English Language Arts & Literacy
Chatham, NJ


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