Survivor's Tips

We collected the following recommendations from numerous friends in the superintendency for how to stay healthy, avoid burnout and endure the everyday challenges of serving as a school district leader.

  • Reach out to people. Nothing can be more supportive, informing and motivating than a broad network of colleagues and friends. Make new friends and keep the old.

  • Become more active in professional associations. Many superintendents’ contracts and most district policies governing superintendent roles allow and even encourage, the district leader to join a national and state professional association and to attend conferences to keep up to date and knowledgeable. Legislative updates, court decisions, personnel requirements, funding and budgeting information are vital to know. What a superintendent knows is how far a superintendent goes.

  • Take care of yourself. A healthy balance of physical, spiritual, emotional and academic experiences are essential in leadership positions. Superintendents need to carve out time for themselves to do something they especially enjoy.

  • Visit classrooms and spend quality time with students. Do not lose your child perspective, the original reason why you entered education. The most important of all educational functions occurs in the classroom with knowledge and skills being learned.

  • Keep the saw sharp. People are coming to you looking for answers. Give yourself the opportunity to ask your own questions. Reading, talking to people, taking seminars and even playing golf or tennis are valuable activities to keep yourself sharp. Learn something new.

  • Know yourself. The stress and isolation of the superintendency is just too much for some people. Know yourself and know when to take a break.

  • Head out of Dodge. Take mini-vacations: Get away from the job by taking mini-breaks at least bi-monthly. When you get away, leave the phone at home.

  • Read for pleasure. Read noneducational materials to escape from the everyday pressures for several hours each week.

  • Take time to exercise. Take time for yourself each day. Walk, run, bike, lift weights or climb mountains. The point is force yourself to do something physical every day.

  • Start a small group. Meet at least monthly with superintendent friends for lunch or some activity (golf, cards, bowling or some other social activity) where you can mix business and pleasure conversations.

  • Spend time with family. Plan family time and don’t let anything interfere. Your family is your best support mechanism.