New Superintendent's E-Journal

July 2014

In this issue:

A Leader Please ... Finding Effective Leadership in Uncertain Times
By Mark D. Benigni and Thomas W. Giard
Facing an accountability movement that includes a new teacher evaluation and development system, as well as the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balance Assessment conversion, educators are operating in uncertain times. Add to the mix, shrinking financial resources and additional federal and state regulations and the need for distributed leadership becomes even more essential to the success of our public schools. So how will we secure dynamic and effective leaders? We have seen schools and organizations launch nationwide searches, enlist the assistance of head-hunting firms, hire marketing agencies to capture their message, and at times just panic. We also have seen school districts hire non-educators to lead their school districts with limited success and questionable results. What we have come to realize is that our greatest opportunities lie within our own district. How will we develop our most important resource-- our staff? How will our organization support our employees' hopes, dreams, and desires? How will we assure that every school has an effective leadership that supports staff and assures student growth? And, of course, how will we pay for it?

The District Office's Role in Supporting Student Achievement
By David Moyer
Superintendents are often expected to create and implement planning documents for their districts. I am serving as superintendent in my second district, and in each instance, it was the first thing I was asked to do.

However, not all planning documents are created equal. While Boards and communities may be enamored with long-term strategic plans because that is what they are used to, the vast majority of these plans serve no purpose in advancing the moral imperative of raising the bar and closing the achievement gap for all students. If one agrees that the moral imperative is the purpose of public schools, than it makes no sense to spend hours upon hours of valuable time creating a traditional strategic plan.

This is not to say that a solid planning document is not important. It can, in fact, be a superintendent’s best friend if it serves to keep their Board focused on the real work of the district and helps to create a coherent system in which administrators and teachers throughout the district develop a shared mindset focused on improving student achievement.

With questions contact Bob McCord, editor.