Published September 25, 2019

The GLS Empowers the Next Generation of Game Changers in Arizona

Building unity in the community

Seven years ago, School Connect was birthed out of inspiration from The Global Leadership Summit to build partnerships by engaging the faith community and collaborating with community partners to adopt schools. With a vision to network, train and coach community partners to build strong, sustainable relationships to support education through community involvement, their impact is multiplying across the state of Arizona.

Using the GLS as a platform to continue to build community and invest in educational leaders, this year, School Connect hosted 115 of its partners for the GLS at Pure Heart Church in August of 2019. They gathered superintendents, School Connect champions from the business and faith sectors, as well as principals. Additionally, Pendergast’s superintendent, Dr. Lily DeBlieux’s 8th grade Superintendent’s Council was in attendance. Overall, the incredible community created a dynamic experience for both students and adults.

Founder of School Connect and Pastor of Community Development at Pure Heart Church, Tracey Beal, shares her heart for reaching her community through schools, and why she was so passionate about getting these key leaders together for the GLS in 2019.

“I was so excited about the idea of investing in these incredible leaders,” said Tracey. “Superintendents are amazing heroes because they oversee literally thousands of families, not just students. Then they’re connecting these families, not only to education, but to the rest of the community as well. They are under an incredible amount of pressure. The GLS is a beautiful and powerful way to invest in their leadership. For a School Connect champion, similarly, they come from faith, business or non-profit backgrounds, and the sense I get about them is that they don’t get a lot of investment in their leadership. They serve and are often the unsung heroes behind the scenes, helping schools connect with resources.

The kind of variety and diversity in the room was really something.

“The kind of variety and diversity in the room was really something. Bringing them all into the same space was powerful—they felt seen and valued. There was something for everyone. The feedback I got was that it was tailor-made for each individual. And it was inspiring for them to be in the same space with each other, including the 8th grade superintendent council.”


Creating this kind of community starts with a relationship.

For Tracey Beal, and the trust she has built with schools over the last several years through her nonprofit, School Connect, superintendents and local leaders were quick to say yes to her invitation to get involved with the GLS in 2019.

“Tracey does an amazing job getting everyone together,” said Dr. Lily DeBlieux, superintendent of Pendergrast. “She’s the one who makes it happen! We [Lily and another superintendent named Betsy] were just happy to help her in any way we can. I invited folks in my district. And I was blessed to invite my 8th grade superintendent council, which allowed me to bring a diverse group of people to an excellent conference. Whatever Tracey asks for, I’ll do. I went to the GLS for the first time last year and it blew me away—the professional development, the speakers—it was so inspirational. I was able to plan my staff meetings and kick-off with information I got from the GLS. I absolutely knew I had to attend again this year. It’s too valuable to miss!

I wanted to envision people to bring what they learn back to their teachers, staff and students and use this excellent professional development tool from experienced leaders!

“I got more involved this year because I wanted to see everyone coming to the GLS. I wanted to get the word out there that this is worth it, even though it is scheduled at the beginning of the school year. I wanted to envision people to bring what they learn back to their teachers, staff and students and use this excellent professional development tool from experienced leaders!”

8th graders attending the GLS from 12 different schools inspired everyone.

Not only did Lily invite other superintendents and educational leaders to attend, she also brought her 8th grade superintendent council comprised of two students from each of the 12 different schools in the district. “They are selected by their teachers and principals, and have to get letters of recommendation,” Lily explains. “Throughout the year, they shadow me, and we meet once a month for training on leadership, what’s available as far as school and education, and they learn how to speak in public. They get to do some behind the scenes things with me for the school year kick-off, and they also do a community service project.

“Throughout the year, we’re teaching them that it really doesn’t matter where they come from. Regardless of their socio-economic group or ethnicity, they have the smarts and the brains to attend whatever university they choose to attend. At the end of the year, we take them on a trip. We’ve taken them to Harvard, Stanford and Chicago, and this year we’re going to try to take them to China. They’re an amazing group of kids!”

The impact it made on them and what they took back to their principals and other students at the schools is really valuable!

Lily wondered how this group would react to being in an audience comprised mostly of adults. It turns out, these 8th graders loved the GLS!

“When we debriefed with them afterward, they each had a different speaker they could relate to,” said Lily. “They loved the speakers and the real-life talks. One of the talks was about generations, and they said they could relate with everybody across the generational spectrum. They loved the talks on leadership and what needs to happen to succeed. They were engaged and could articulate what they learned. The impact it made on them and what they took back to their principals and other students at the schools is really valuable!”

Bridging the gap between different faith backgrounds

8th grade announcementDuring one of the announcement sessions at school, the whole audience got to hear from the student council, as well as Lily and Betsy about how powerful it was to be there. “It really impacted the entire gathering,” said Tracey. “It was very empowering for our youth.”

“A lot of people came up to me afterwards to tell me about how cool it was to have the kids involved,” said Lily. “We need this GLS as much as anyone else, and it’s a great way for everyone to come together. And the kids can see themselves as leaders through these role models.”

The dynamic that the GLS creates is bridging the gap between faith communities because the focal point to address issues we all face is centered on being human.

“The GLS is bringing information to my district,” said Lily. “It’s bridging the gap between different faith backgrounds–people are realizing that it’s ok to relate to each other and partner and talk about all kinds of issues. The GLS is far reaching. Everyone who went, wants to go back. It’s going to bring tremendous value to my district in that aspect.”

Many people who come to the GLS are not necessarily from a faith background, but they love the GLS.

Tracey echoes what Lily shares about bridging the gap in our communities. “When you don’t make faith the focal point, and just accept we’re all humans, it’s ok to work together and hear from each other. And that’s the big difference in this conference–everyone is working together. We all have things in common. We have points of pain and common goals. Many people who come to the GLS are not necessarily from a faith background, but they love the GLS. The atmosphere makes it possible to not be pressured whether you’re a person of faith or have no faith. I think what we’ve been trying to do is be up front about the faith component, but also let people know that these speakers are national or international leaders who have much to share with everyone. That creates a positive experience. They are cared for at the GLS, and as a result, people feel loved and valued.”

At the Global Leadership Network, we are so excited for the community that Tracey Beal, Dr. Lily DeBlieux and others are building in Arizona through their partnerships, and ultimately for what that means for the next generation of game-changing positive influencers in our world.

About the Author
Global Leadership Network

Global Leadership Network

GLN Staff Writer

The Global Leadership Network is a community committed to learning from each other and using our influence to accomplish God’s purposes on earth. No matter where your influence is, when you commit to grow your leadership, everyone around you wins—businesses work for good, communities are transformed and churches thrive! Both global and diverse, our network includes partners in 1,400+ cities and 135+ countries. We are committed to deliver fresh, actionable and inspiring leadership content both at The Global Leadership Summit, and year-round through our digital platforms.

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