Letters                                                                 Page 4


Reader Reply


Worthy Transition Advice

Everything about the November issue on transitioning in and out of the superintendency is first rate, from the eye-catching cover art to the detailed advice on how to leave gracefully, plan a smooth transition and start strong. I thought Art Stellar's feature (“When and How to Leave Gracefully”) was full of useful insights.


In addition, Dan Domenech's commentary (“Reinvention Rooted in the Modern Era”) on Thomas Friedman's approach is right on target. It's surprising how many of these calls for schools of the future wind up with a set of recommendations that would recreate the school of the 1950s!

Executive Director,
National Superintendents Roundtable,
Seattle, Wash.


Re “Transition Advice: Don’t Leave Behind a Mess” in the November 2013 issue:

As someone who retired from the superintendency four years ago to take a presidency of a community college, I thought Robert Zorn shared such good and practical advice with our colleagues. I often am amazed at folks who leave their positions in ways that are poor reflections of the profession.

Southern State Community College
Hillboro, Ohio


Moving Into Academia

I found Sarah Carr's article, "From Superintendent to Professor,” (November 2013) interesting. Having transitioned myself after 18 years in the K-12 public schools, including seven as an assistant superintendent, to a professorship, her comments were right on target.

However, I was 38 years old when I made this move unlike many superintendents who choose to do so at the point of retirement. During my 25 years in the professoriate, I have maintained direct contact with superintendents via my field studies, superintendent searches and teaching. I also have had numerous opportunities to counsel superintendents as they approach retirement on their options to remain active on departure.

I have found many superintendents approaching retirement plan on doing one or more of several things -- teach at the college level, consult and/or write a book about their experiences. My typical response is there are not enough higher education teaching jobs to meet the supply of candidates and, unless one has some previous experience doing this, it is unlikely an opportunity will appear.

Pursuing a role as a consultant requires you have knowledge and skills that are unique and of value to potential clients. Finally, if one has never done much professional writing, it is almost impossible to have the discipline and good fortune to get a piece published. Therefore, I offer the following advice.

Teaching at the college level: Find an opportunity to do some adjunct teaching before you retire (if your contract with the school board permits this). This will help you test whether you enjoy it or not and will enhance your resume when it comes time to look for full-time or part-time graduate teaching. As Carr noted, the culture of higher education is quite different from K-12.

Consulting: Again, if your contract permits, work with an established consulting firm and get involved in some small way with specific projects. If your contract does not allow this, establish a relationship with an existing consulting firm so you can be considered for employment when you do retire.

Writing: Start now! Begin by identifying a publishing outlet (perhaps School Administrator) and start small – maybe a letter to the editor or a brief article. Get your name in print.

Regardless of the direction one takes, it is important to realize that as retirement approaches you have to set yourself up with an office at home, identify where services (i.e., photocopying) can be purchased and realize the support services you have become accustomed to will no longer be there.

Most superintendents are used to a 24/7/365 schedule, so the thought of retirement may be scary. That said, if you are approaching this milestone, plan ahead so you can remain active and productive in later years doing something a little different.

Senior Partner,
Castallo & Silky Education Consultants,
Syracuse, N.Y.


Resegregation Coverage

I was immensely proud of AASA and my membership in reading the articles on resegregation in public schools by Shelley Berman and others that appeared in School Administrator’s December 2013 issue.

As the state superintendent in Illinois during the 1970s, I found superintendents fell on every point on the spectrum -- from supportive and enlightened to hostile or afraid to close the Abraham Lincoln black school.

This was a bold and constructive theme issue.

Senior Lecturer,
School of Education,
Boston University,
Boston, Mass.


Bravo to Shelley Berman for his comments on resegregation in the December 2013 issue. It is a tragedy how the hard-fought gains of previous decades have been eroded so quickly. I appreciate Berman for taking on this issue publicly and look forward to us finding our collective better way again.

Eagle County School District,
Eagle, Colo.


Parallel School Systems

I found the comments in “Two Parallel School Systems,” Daniel Domenech’s Executive Perspective column (December 2013), to be very validating.

Not only does poverty hinder student achievement, but it erodes our nation’s intellectual capacity by not allowing some of our brightest children to develop their full potential. The end result is a loss of a national resource inherent in our children.

Director, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment,
Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District,
Port Chester, N.Y.



Leadership Transition

Re Stephen Webb’s “Leadership Transition by Design” (November 2013):

As an engaged community member whose two adult children were educated in Vancouver Public Schools, I believe Webb effectively describes the conditions of alignment and commitment to education present in the organization he leads and mirrored in its community partnerships.

Clear expectations collectively formulated across the stakeholder landscape and implemented with a transparent agenda have affirmed education of our youth as a community priority -- and certainly facilitate effective education administration from the top while facilitating grassroots involvement from the community as a whole.

Our leadership development organization often benchmarks how the district puts these principles into practice, which lead to transformative high-performance results. It’s a clear demonstration of what it takes to deliver the goods, regardless of the administrative purposes.

Our school board deserves thanks for staying the course for the long run.

Transformation Systems International,
Vancouver, Wash.


I certainly think there are many pluses to developing a good succession plan such as what Steven Webb advocates (November 2013). I've long encouraged school districts to think in this direction, and I am amazed at how few do.

Northwest Leadership Associates,
Liberty Lake, Wash.


I completely support the purpose and intent of leadership transition as described by Steven Webb (November 2013) and have seen it work over and over. His experience is another great example of success.

Executive Director,
Washington Student Achievement Council,
Olympia, Wash.



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

















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