Sharing to Learn at Directors School

By Tom O'Rourke | Posted on June 6, 2014

Each day, in everything we do, we either get better or we get worse. I often question where I should seek my next professional development experience in an attempt to better myself. I take my professional development very seriously. 

When I try to remember my favorite classes or schools that meant the most to me it is honestly hard to recall the intricate details of each individual session, but what I can always recall are the people that were in my classes and the instructors that made such a profound difference in shaping who I am. When I need another opinion or advice, I always go back to the relationships I have made in the past at these schools. 

I think it is the relationships that are made with one another that make the NRPA Directors School  something I look forward to being a part of. 

At the school, it is not about one instructor standing in front of a class full of students trying to impart knowledge. Every opportunity is taken to ensure interaction by all involved so that these important relationships can be formed among everyone there.  

The format of the school is based upon the newly formed CAPRA standards for accreditation. The subject is chosen, the standards are highlighted and then facilitated discussion wraps the topic around the individual circumstances related to each agency represented. This practical approach blends the “how-to” with the individualized circumstances of each agency.   

The people that choose to attend Directors School are already seasoned senior management level professionals that, frankly in many cases, have as much to offer as the instructor. It is this facilitated knowledge sharing that makes the school so unique. There are constant opportunities for all opinions to be shared that ensure when both the students and the instructors complete the week together, they leave with an extensive knowledge base.  With this interactive format, each participant cannot help but leave with a new group of friends that will be there for each other throughout their professional career. 


At the NRPA Directors School knowledge sharing makes for a rewarding learning experience among park and rec pros

At NRPA Directors School it doesn’t matter if you are from a large department or if you are the only person in a small agency.  Best practice CAPRA standards are written for any size department. Sound management is sound management. The school is now and has always been grounded in a professional, consistent curriculum. 

Professional development in the park and recreation profession is not the same as other professions. Our profession feels the effects of changes in the political climate and the ebbs and flows of the economy.  What doesn’t change and will NEVER change is what we do. We serve people. We make the lives of those we work for better than they would be without us. We define our communities. 

The NRPA Directors School this year will dedicate time to break down these qualities in a discussion related to “Culture.” Every organization has a culture… the question that has to be answered: Is yours the one you want? 

If you think your leadership will be enhanced by professional standards, open interactive best practice examples and creating a culture of excellence, I would strongly recommend that you join us as an equal partner of the NRPA Directors School.

What are some of the most memorable learning experiences you have? What would you say is your agency culture? Leave a comment below or tweet us your thoughts @NRPA_News, #DirectorsSchool. 

Tom O'Rourke  serves as an instructor for the NRPA Directors School and is the executive director of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.

Editor’s Note: The NRPA Directors School will be held in August at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia.