Book Review

What Matters Most for School Leaders

by Robert D. Ramsey, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2005, 209 pp., $32.95 softcover

What Matters Most for School Leaders, by Robert D. Ramsey, serves as a reminder of what is truly important for school leaders at all levels. The author is a lifelong educator who has worked as a teacher, counselor, supervisor, assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, personnel director, assistant superintendent and acting superintendent. He is the author of four books.

This compact guide of 25 fundamental insights and baseline beliefs costs school systems nothing but time, effort and energy. He offers a common-sense approach to school leadership, providing practical tips and strategies.

Two of the more enjoyable chapters were entitled “Your Mother Didn’t Raise You to Be a Bureaucrat” and “Politicians and Armchair Quarterbacks Don’t Get It — So You Have To.” In these two chapters, Ramsey focuses on the administrators fighting through red tape, focusing on children and making their voices heard throughout the community on important educational topics.

Some of the author’s wise tips include these: Surround yourself with great people; you have all the time anyone else has, but how you use it is up to you; don’t overcommit, overpromise, overextend or overspend; and have the courage to say no.

The book is an easy read and serves as an inspiration to become a better school leader. It requires readers to reflect upon issues and steers them toward a basic philosophy of “doing what is right.”

Reviewed by Paul A. Shaw, superintendent, White County School System, Cleveland, Ga.