Book Review

So Now You’re The Superintendent!

by John Eller and Howard C. Carlson, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2008, 221 pp. with index, $33.95 softcover

For a new superintendent, the phrase that serves as the title of this book is both thrilling and daunting. So Now You’re the Superintendent! is a reservoir of ideas and common sense.

So Now You're the Superintendent

Authors John Eller, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech University and a former school administrator, and Howard Carlson, an assistant superintendent in the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Ariz., help us understand the complex role and common pitfalls faced by new superintendents. Subsequent chapters describe areas of responsibility and tools to enhance a smooth entry into the leadership post.

The writing style is inviting, the format easy to follow. Especially helpful are summaries of key points, templates for planning and specific tools to promote and deepen the thinking of the superintendent about issues that matter to their success, as well as the success of the organ-ization and the students.

The cornerstone of a superintendent’s success is the relationship with the school board as every experienced superintendent can attest. This is covered in its own chapter, which includes a board-communications analysis template, an individual board member communications-needs template and a chart of communications methods outlining the pros and cons of each.

Eller and Carlson also address these topics: learning the district culture, implementing new strategies, working with staff and getting your message out. Their useful ideas accompany surveys or analysis documents ready for the leader to use with few modifications. Examples include the honeymoon planning guide, a cost-benefit planning guide and a conflict resolution template.

So Now You’re the Superintendent! is a rich resource for new and experienced superintendents and those studying the position.

Reviewed by Rene Townsend, managing partner, Leadership Associates, Encinitas, Calif.