Letters                                                                 Page 4


Reader Reply

Rookies’ Useful Lessons
As the coordinator for Tapping Executive Educators, the aspiring superintendents’ program coordinated by the South Carolina Department of Education, I found your magazine’s article “Rookie Superintendents” (November 2011) to be timely and beneficial, so I've shared it with my cohorts. We especially appreciated the frank reflections of Superintendent Yvonne Jefferson-Barnes, a graduate of our program.

We encourage your journal to consider making these rookie superintendents’ reflections an annual tradition. Our TEE participants said they learn the most from superintendent-mentors and that reading about the events of Barnes' first year helped them to anticipate what to expect and how to manage the everyday pressures and challenges that are part of assuming a superintendency.

Education Associate,
South Carolina Department of Education,
Columbia, N.C.

Advice for the Jungle
Re Art Stellar’s “Welcome to the Jungle: The First 100 Days of a Superintendency” (November 2011):

Some good common-sense ideas are ignored, for whatever reason, by first-time administrators as well as seasoned veterans who enter a new position of leadership. Stellar offers sage advice when he suggests “building on the foundation of those before you, of doing your homework about the community, clarifying the board’s expectations, and appreciating the culture of the community.”

To add to Stellar’s advice, I’d suggest being cautious about making changes — everything one does has the potential of alienating someone or some group. The reality is that all current situations are the result of someone’s good intentions.

Finally, overexposure in the news media may not be in the new superintendent’s best, long-term interests. Let the school board president do the talking, at least for the first month.

One axiom helps put things in perspective during the honeymoon period: Introduce yourself as the “current” superintendent. This reminds me of another axiom: “It seems that friends come and go, but your enemies accumulate.”

Executive Director,
Horace Mann League,
Port Ludlow, Wash.

Following up on Art Stellar’s article, as a communication consultant, I would recommend the first four actions of a new superintendent be these:

  • Determine the main priorities of the school board chair for the superintendent in the first year (apart from what the chair said in public);
  • Meet with teacher union representatives and learn how their expectations differ from the board’s;
  • Hold individual meetings with principals and their main assistants to learn their attitudes about the direction of the school district;
  • Learn the power structure of the community and who the key communicators are, apart from board members, and make efforts to meet personally with each.

Journal of Educational Public Relations,
Camp Hill, Pa.

Excellent Column
“Considering All Factors,” the President’s Corner in the December 2011 issue, was a brilliant article.

The Oconomowoc Area Schools are fortunate in having Patricia Neudecker as their superintendent.

City Building Inspector,
Delafield Wis.

Acute Giftedness
I concur completely with what Jane Clarenbach espoused in her article “All Gifted Is Local” (February 2007), which I found on your magazine’s website. I have been saying these sorts of things for years in my school district and have duly noted that all students deserve to be taught where they are rather than what is prescribed.

I have written an article for the winter edition of Teaching for High Potential that describes my experiences with my son Alex. He is now 23 and just made received all A's in his seven college classes, yet he was bullied and misunderstood in public school, even at the high school where I taught!

Alex initially was diagnosed with ADHD and "acute" giftedness, but then I discovered Asperger's Syndrome on a website in Australia that provided a checklist of characteristics that I then collaborated with his doctor to enable his teachers to complete. He was the first diagnosed student with Asperger's Syndrome ever in the Hall County, Ga., Public Schools. Had I not advocated for him at every step of his educational journey, Alex would not be the successful young man he is today.

Assistant Principal,
West Hall High School,
Oakwood, Ga.

In her article “The Elusive Value in 'Value Added’” (October 2011), Elaine Weiss addresses the need for broader, more holistic school accountability systems. Her exposition of appropriate methods could be expanded to make an interesting book if she could bring in examples and case studies of successful implementation. 

Senior Editor,
Arlington Heights, Ill.



Letters should be addressed to:
School Administrator,
1615 Duke St.,
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703-841-1543



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