Lord have mercy. We have seen too much drama in education over the past four years. We were just getting into a position to talk intelligently of equity, systems change, purposeful assessment, and child centered policy. Sadly we were sucked into a vortex of voodoo science, inaccurate use of the term indoctrination, backtracking of policies, and a 1950s acceptance of white-privilege. Covid-19 just pushed us over the edge. Today we are seeing district leaders move, quit, vacate, step down, etc. at what seems like an unusual rate. As yet another community prepares to welcome a new superintendent, here are a few words to send these new leaders on their way.
Dear New Superintendent,
Your journey to this point is yours to own. You never reach this point in your career without a few lessons, laughs, and tears.
You have been brought into this role because you bring valued skill, insight, and perspective. Your journey has demonstrated your readiness for this work.
You are here to take action. You are not here to maintain the status quo.
You are not here to be a tornado whipping through the system. You are here to lead. To be bold in your vision, compassionate in your drive of much needed change, disruptive of tradition and expectations that hold us back, and thoughtful in your questions to those around you who simply don’t know what they don’t know.
You may find yourself to be a healer.
You may find yourself having to stand up and say, “no actually, I am here to lead and lead I will.” You may find yourself with a school board that is grumpy, or excited, or over protective, or ready to shake things up.
Regardless you’ve got this. You are here to do the work.
It is your job to ground the work and communicate the work. You are not a politician, rather you are an advocate. You are someone who leads for children and every step you take is to create a stable, innovative system that will nurture each child in the community you serve.
At the end of the day I hope you feel a sense of accomplishment that you brought the system one step closer to where it needs to be.
I hope you feel a need to bring all members of the system together so that they are cumulatively positioned to thrive.
You will have to push. You will need to pull. You will need to pause in effort to rebuild what may have inadvertently crumbled before you arrived.
Your work will be challenging, fun, heartfelt, and courageous. Your actions will be real, unaltered by toxic positivity or fueled by biased negativity.
Teachers will need you to catch them up and help them to see the opportunity that always lies in learning more. Leaders will need you to ground their work in common vision and goals. Families will need you to call for equity, transparency, and boundaries that ensure you are always the leader.
Children will need you to lead with exemplary grace through it all.
The important work of schools is no longer limited to academics. Sure our kids need to spell, add, read, and write. But more importantly they need to be ready to live an empathetic, compassionate, inquisitive, and creative life.
Your work will determine the trajectory of our children.
Your leadership will equate to systems readiness or systems failure on behalf of our children.
You have no small task before you. But you are ready. You have been chosen. You are the new superintendent.
You are here to lead an educational organization committed to the future of our children.
You hold the intellect and you will lead the team.
The ball is in your court. Get out there. Get the job done. Don’t give in to mediocrity. Rather, fight every day for what’s possible. Never settle for what is easy; easy never leads to the best for our kids.
Our kids deserve it. Here’s your chance, run with it.
The kids, the community, and the system are counting on you.
Go get ‘em
Jody is a long time advocate and thought leader in education. She supports educators, leaders, and other stakeholders in preK-12 education. Keep up with her work at jodybritten.com