How to Start a Movement?

This is a season of change for me. After serving Bend-La Pine Schools for the past eight years, five of which as its superintendent, I am embarking on a new journey as the Chief Student Success Officer for the High Desert Education Service District.

This new role’s formal responsibility is to help Central Oregon’s school districts in the development, implementation, and evaluation of Oregon’s Student Success Act–which passed in May, 2019–representing an historic investment in Oregon’s education system, bringing approximately $1 billion additional annual funding to Oregon schools and early childhood programs.

While that’s the official role and responsibility, the vision and mission I have for this work is really about creating a movement. A movement that delivers on the promise of public education for all students. A movement that pushes back on the impoverished view of education that defines our students success and our success as educators by the average test score of our students and replaces it with one, that believes, the most defining measure of our success as educators and an education system is not what our students know, but who they become in the that is most important.  A movement, that most importantly, catalyzes others into action towards the cause.

A movement obviously takes leadership, but as you will see in this quick three-minute TED Talk by Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby which is the largest seller of independent music on the web, it also takes followship.

My question to myself  and other educational leaders after watching this video clip is simple.  How can we lead in ways that promote followship and follow in ways that elevate the leadership of those around us?

For if we break down what it means to be a leader to its foundation, there is only one thing that all leaders have in common.  It’s followers. Without followers, a leader cannot be called a leader. Leadership, as a concept, doesn’t exist – we can only define and understand it through his or her followers.

Turning the shirtless guy dance into a movement took a mere two-minutes to pull off.  Providing excellence and equity for all students attending our public schools will obviously take much longer, in fact by definition it is a mission without end, but I am encouraged by the practical steps Derek Silvers manages to break down in his lesson on how to start a movement and I look forward to growing in my ability to apply them into action for the students, families, and staff I am privileged to serve.

Shay Mikalson is educator dedicated to providing exceptional education leadership in support of the building, implementation and investment in an education system that meets the diverse learning needs of every student and provides boundless opportunities that support individual student success. He has a proven track record of innovation and an unrelenting focus on student achievement. Shay Mikalson balances his professional passions with life as a devoted husband and the father of five children. You can also follow Shay on Twitter @ or email him at

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