Thank You Shirley Hord

Since Shirley’s passing last month I have done a lot of reflecting on her influence on my professional life.  Long before I ever met Shirley, in the 80s, I was using her work, and that of Gene Hall, as a principal and as a staff developer.  I taught Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) for years in classes I taught on leadership and change in several universities and professional development centers.  Learning early about the emotions of change (SoC), the behavior of change (LoU), and the Innovation Configuration (IC) helped me understand, anticipate, and implement changes in my own repertoire and the schools where I worked.

As my association with the National Staff Development Council began in the late 80s and I got to meet Shirley in person. I learned so much from our many conversations over the years.  Her commitment to kids, colleagues, and communities was unmatched.  In 2005 I joined the staff at SEDL when I moved to Austin, TX and became a colleague of Shirley.  We co-authored two books on Professional Learning Communities.  I was humbled to co-present at a pre-conference at an NSDC conference. I continually learned from Shirley and her insatiable curiosity about how things got done. Andy Hargreaves wrote in his book Sustainable Leadership (p.125), that Shirley Hord was the first to identify the three dimensions of PLCs, professional – learning – communities.

My long-term connection with NSDC provided continual connections with Shirley where I continued to learn as much as I could every time we shared a meal or sat talking together.  She was generous with her time and knowledge.  I am grateful.

Over the past few years, I was able to visit Boerne, TX where she had moved following her retirement from SEDL and Learning Forward (formerly NSDC).  Joellen Killion, Terry Morganti-Fisher, Stephanie Hirsh and I would take trips whenever we could to visit, share stories, and most importantly, to tell her how much we valued her personally, professionally, and her friendship.  I am also grateful that Joellen and I got to visit her a month before her passing. We knew the visits were getting shorter. Shirley would tell us firmly when it was time to leave. (those who know Shirley know what we mean).  She was never shy about stating her desires.

Thank you, Shirley, for sharing your knowledge, skills, and implementation strategies with so many over the years.  You made a difference for so many.  Your contribution to our learning will continue to influence those in education.  You are truly a giant in the field. We are standing on your shoulders.  Rest my dear.  You deserve it.  Namaste’  Bill