Becky Rutledge of Bridge City ISD was among a group of school board members gathering in San Marcos Nov. 8-10 to focus on their roles as advocates for public schools with state and national policymakers. Trustees, who met for the second of five training sessions of Leadership TASB, began their activities by touring facilities at Comal Independent School District and participating in an Advocacy Boot Camp provided by the Governmental Relations Division of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). In the advocacy training, trustees gained tips and practice in providing testimony before legislative committees and learned the protocol for appearing before governmental entities.

On Friday the group heard keynote speaker Bill Graham of Graham Corporate Communications. Graham, a nationally recognized trainer in effective communication, provided tips on effective strategies for contacts with policymakers. His client list includes numerous political candidates, corporate executives, and university classes. Afternoon activities featured a team building session delivered by Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EGALA) certified facilitators from Five Horses LLC.

Selected by TASB , the group of 36 trustees is participating in a year-long education leadership study program. The Leadership TASB class of 2013 represents Texas school districts of all sizes, with student populations of 275 to 106,000, and reflects a wide range of property wealth. Participants who complete all required elements of the study will graduate next year with a unique designation recognized by TASB.

Each session has a specific theme that builds on the previous session and features state and national experts in the fields of leadership development and education. Teams also work on extended learning assignments between meetings throughout the year. Created in 1993, Leadership TASB has more than 600 graduates to date.

TASB is a voluntary, nonprofit association established in 1949 to serve local Texas school districts. School board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve more than 4.9 million public school students.