Equity in terms of students’ access to learning and resources—and for people in or striving for leadership roles in education—are goals that motivate Michael Doughty’s work as an educator and leader.
Michael Doughty joined Capital Region BOCES in 2018 as Executive Director of Statewide Projects and in 2019 moved into the role of Assistant Superintendent of the Northeastern Regional Information Center (NERIC). Previously, Mike has served in many roles in k-12 education: from elementary classroom teacher to Deputy Superintendent positions with both the Monroe #1 BOCES and the Greece Central School District. He holds a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) focused in Educational Leadership and Administration from The University of Rochester.
Mike is also co-founder and co-host with Jenn David-Lang of The School Leadership Show podcast. The podcast offers up conversation and insight from thought-leaders on important topics in education and leadership.
Education—and leadership: It’s a family affair
With parents who were long-time educators–mom was a FACS teacher for 33 years and dad finished his career as a high school principal–dedicating his own career to education made good sense for Mike.
“Public education is the family business,” he said.
“This is my 27th year working in public education. I believe it is our job as leaders who’ve been in the system for a while to mentor, coach and support emerging leaders, especially women. It’s not getting any easier, and we have an obligation to make sure that the best and brightest are ready to move the field forward so that every student has access to the opportunities they need to be successful.”
What is top of mind for you now as a leader?
Without hesitation, Mike named equity, with the goal of providing all students access to a robust education.
“Knowing that not all students have the same access to resources and that all students learn in different ways, I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can work together to provide the services and supports to best educate students. Getting to the right solution and knowing what we need to provide has to be a collaborative process.”
“Too, and particularly as a result of the pandemic, we have learned that for a small percentage of students, brick and mortar schools are not the places where they will learn best. We have been talking about the idea of differentiated learning for a long time, but now have the tools available to us–things like distance learning and virtual learning–and the mechanism to make it a reality.”
With this in mind, Mike said that NERIC recently hosted a virtual learning forum attended by 60+ statewide educators to explore how today’s technology can “level the playing field” and help schools provide high quality programs for all learners.
Leaders as lifelong learners
“One of the reasons I love the role I am in with NERIC is that it allows me to keep learning in ways and at a pace I might not have the ability to do in another leadership role,” said Mike, who is currently taking a “deep-dive” into Chat GPT and artificial intelligence (AI) and their implications and use in education.
“We can’t know what the right solution might be or how to best advise educators unless we do our own homework and ask the people who our services and supports are designed for what they need and how what we are providing is working for them. There needs to be a balance between being responsive to the districts and BOCES we serve, to hear what their needs are and provide the services and supports they are asking for, as well as leading, knowing what is ahead of us and being the ones to say ‘Hey, this is where we need to go.’”
What, then, are you reading, listening to or generally learning (!) that is inspiring your leadership?
Mike said he is “currently down the artificial intelligence rabbit hole” and reading two books on the subject: “The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology” by Nita A. Farahany and “Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence” by Kate Crawford.
In terms of favorite podcasts, Mike enjoys “Lovett or Leave It” for a lighthearted take on current news and culture, and “Pivot” for a dose of tech and business-focused news and perspective..
“I am interested in supporting success, generally, in educational leadership, and there are many organizations that I support that are working in this regard,” said Mike. “But when we look specifically at women in educational leadership, we know that while more than 50% of teachers are women, less than 30% of women hold roles as school superintendents and other upper leadership. This is something NYSAWA is working to change.”
“I am married to a woman and have two daughters,” he continued, “so I have a vested interest in seeing more opportunities for women to lead in these sorts of roles.”
“In terms of building strong leadership teams, I know that we are always better and more effective when there is diversity, and when individuals with different ways of thinking, experiential backgrounds, skills and strengths are able to work together. I don’t think any effective organization can stay strong without this.”
Together, Mike and his colleagues at Capital Region BOCES and NERIC champion the NYSAWA mission, and regularly attend its events and activities in support of fostering women as educational leaders. Learn about joining NYSAWA as an educational team.
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