NSCS Keynote

September 22, 2013

Scholars and Servant Leaders

Dr. Jan Sherman, Dean College of Education, Winona State University

I would like to thank you for the invitation to become a Distinguished Member of

Four Key Principles of Organization





Today focus on 3 roles that you have the opportunity to develop and fulfill through this organization:

Scholar/Leader/Servant – all executed with Integrity – which is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. And so I want to take a few moments to focus on each of these roles and their meaning:

A Scholar is defined as a learned person; someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines. I would add to that a scholar never stops learning and finds learning joyful and energizing. A scholar is also able to apply that knowledge in practical/pragmatic ways. A scholar shares his/her knowledge with others of the same and future generations.

Yesterday, I googled famous scholars and came across several lists.  One was an alphabetical list of 64 famous scholars. I was pleased to find some of the names of famous scholars related to my discipline – education – names like Sigmund Freud, Abram Maslow, Jerome Kagan (author of my freshman ed psych text- more than 40 years ago), and Erik Erikson. But I was surprised to find the list lacking people that I would have included in such a list – Jean Piaget (theories of Cognitive Development), John Dewey educational reformer, John Goodlad, Howard Gardner – Multiple Intelligences Theory.

But I was also very surprised by one name I found on this selective list of 64 scholars – the name of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento – have you heard of him? Well, I’m not surprised – Sarmiento was a political activist and intellectual who became the 7th President of Argentina. He lived from 1811-1888 but he has a very important connection to WSU.

In the late 1870’s Sarmiento recruited American teachers to come to Argentina to establish the country’s public education and teacher training systems. About half of those recruited were graduates of Winona Normal School and their legacy lives on in Argentina today where the Mary O Graham School still stands in San Juan.

Who will be on your list of scholars? Whose will recognize you as a scholar? NSCS recognizes your accomplishments as a scholar and provides you opportunities to grow as a scholar.

Let’s explore the next role – that of Leader: What is a leader?

I rejected those that included words like obedience/ dominant or superior position/high degree of control. By that definition Adolf Hitler was a leader and Sadam Hussein was a leader.

No a better definition would be

A leader is a person who influences a group of people towards achievement of a common goal for the greater good.

  • a Leader inspires
  • a Leader encourages
  • a Leader motivates
  • a Leader challenges

And If we combine the role of leader with the third principle of NSCS Service– that of Servant – a person who serves others, we end up with the term Servant Leader.

Servant leadership is an ancient philosophy and modern practice that has regained popularity over the past 50 years due to the writings and work of Robert Greenleaf. Servant Leaders serve the people they lead through mentoring, assistance, and listening.

Characteristics of Servant Leaders have been identified and include:

  • Listening
  •  Having Empathy and Understanding
  • Using Persuasion rather than authority
  • Engaging in Conceptualization – dreaming great dreams
  • Having Foresight – understanding lessons from the past in making decisions for the present and future
  •  Engaging in Stewardship – using resources for the greater good
  • Demonstrating Commitment to the personal, professional and spiritual growth of people
  • Building community.

Who are examples of Servant leaders? I found these on a list:

Abraham Lincoln

Dr. Martin Luther King


Mother Theresa

Who would you consider to be servant leaders? Who will consider you to be a servant leader?

And so the challenge and opportunity that NSCS provides for all of us is to be Scholars and Servant Leaders and to do so with integrity

And so some words for us to live by as Scholars and Servant Leaders from Scholar and Servant Leader Mahatma Ghandi:

Keep your thoughts positive

Because your thoughts become your words.

Keep your words positive

Because your words become your behavior.

Keep your behavior positive

Because your behavior becomes your habits.

Keep your habits positive

Because your habits become your values.

Keep your values positive

Because your values become your destiny.


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