Book Reviews

The School Superintendent: The Profession and the Person

by William L Sharp and James K. Walter, editors

Reviewed by Janiece T. Buck
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas

William Sharp and James Walter, both professors of educational leadership and former superintendents, drew from their professional experiences when writing the second edition of The School Superintendent: The Profession and the Person.

Elwood P. Cubberly, one of the giants in the history of educational administration as a profession, is quoted in this work as describing a superintendent as someone who “works distinctly for the next generation, without becoming egotistical or autocratic; his own personal sense of the importance of his work must be his own greatest reward.”

The book covers the roles and responsibilities as well as a history of the superintendency, how to get the job and the role of the superintendent’s spouse. Chapters are enriched with the personal involvement of the authors, who also provide food for thought through questions and case studies that capture the human dimension of the role.

The chapter on leadership, ethics and decision making seems especially appropriate in the current climate, particularly in connection with planning. Decisions by superintendents are no longer made by the seat of the pants. The emphasis today, the authors say, is on "what does my leadership style have to do with decision making?" A brief review of leadership theories sets the stage for review of decision-making models.

This book can be used in coursework for the superintendent certification program or as a primer by an aspiring candidate for the superintendency. Because the role of the spouse is stressed in the book, it also would serve as a good resource for anyone who is married to a superintendent or an educator hoping to become one to gain a better understanding of the all-encompassing role.

(The School Superintendent: The Profession and the Person, 2nd edition, by William L. Sharp and James K. Walter, Rowman and Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2004, 266 pp., $33.95 softcover)