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Letters                                                                 Page 4

 

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Superintendent Evaluation
Several things struck me about the process for assessing the superintendent’s performance laid out by Tom Owczarek in his fine article “Revamping Our Evaluation” (December 2011).

First, he showed it is not just a process for engaging the school board in the work of evaluating the superintendent, but it is the working relationship, trus and communication that set the foundation for any assessment. Without that, there is no good way to assess what the superintendent is doing.

Second, in reviewing the material (both in reading his article and follow-up material that the author provided), it’s evident the assessment follows the same path that has been built in the relationship.

Third, there are no surprises, but rather constant assessment and reassessment, and continuing communications.

DONALD GROSS
Superintendent,
Sandyston-Walpack Consolidated School District,
Layton, N.J.


Tom Owczarek’s article was especially timely. My board is ready to revamp our superintendent evaluation, so I hope to get some resources he mentions in the article, which was a great place for all of us to start.

KIMBERLY VanDRESE
Superintendent,
Gwinn Area Community Schools,
Gwinn, Mich.

Board Transparency
I thought Michael Adamson’s Board-Savvy Superintendent column “Transparency and Good Governance” (January 2012) was excellent. As superintendents, we must maintain integrity by communicating honestly to build lasting trust with our school boards and the public. Trust is something that takes a great deal of effort to build and almost no effort to destroy.

Adamson points out what should be obvious to all of us in public school leadership: Honesty is always the best policy, and pro-active honesty in our communication is even better.

I appreciate that he took the time to share his thoughts in writing for the magazine and its readers. My hope is that by reflecting on what transparency and accountability look like in public school leadership we can re-establish the much-needed support for public schools in our nation and communities. 

PATRICK SPRAY
Superintendent,
Mill Creek Community Schools,
Clayton, Ind.

360-Degree Instruments
While reading Middleton McGoodwin’s account of his professional evaluation by a former board of education (“A Board’s Disconnect,” December 2011), I noticed he used a 360-degree feedback instrument as part of the process. I am doing my doctoral dissertation on the process as it pertains to secondary school principals, so I was interested in examining a copy of the instrument.

McGoodwin told me that his instrument was homegrown. One of the challenges was developing questions that residents of the community would be able to accurately respond to. His experience supports my suspicions about using the community in evaluating leaders, so I am staying with teachers, peers, supervisors and students in my study.

STEPHEN D. SHUTTERS
Principal,
Elderton High School,
Elderton, Pa.

Middleton McGoodwin provides us a lesson to be learned in his nice article.

SUSAN T. COTE TRACI McBRIDE
Superintendent,
East Bridgewater Public Schools,
East Bridgewater, Mass.

Parent Complaints
It was refreshing to be reminded by Carlos Smith, author of “Parent Complaints: An Untapped Catalyst” (August 2011), that in our business of educating young minds, we need to be aware of parent concerns, legal issues and even the public’s perception of our organizations.

Too often in the education world, we lose sight of the need to have a customer-service mentality through which we treat parents of our students as if they are valuable commodities worthy of our time rather than simply putting up with their requests for understanding and involvement.

I have followed up with the author to learn more about his school district’s process for managing parent complaints and the self-assessment tool he uses. Treating parents respectfully and doing so with dignity is sometimes an art lost in translation. 

TERYN R. SPEARS
District Parental Involvement Facilitator,
Blytheville School District,
Blytheville, Ark.

The Work of Learning
Having done extensive work in Mankato, Minn., Anoka, Minn., and now in Rockwood, Mo., in regards to professional learning communities, I loved the article by Kathleen Foord and Jean Haar (“Gauging Effectiveness”) in your magazine’s January 2012 issue.

In Rockwood, we do whatever it takes to ensure all students realize their potential. This is a strong mission statement, and it guides my work as superintendent. My ultimate goal is to foster a culture in which every school community and department collectively focuses on continuous improvements in learning for all students. I love learning work.

BRUCE BORCHERS
Superintendent,
Rookwood School District,
Eureka, Mo.

Frank Rookie Reflections
As the coordinator for Tapping Executive Educators, the aspiring superintendents’ program run by the South Carolina Department of Education, I found your magazine’s article “Rookie Superintendents” (November 2011) to be timely and beneficial, so I’ve shared it with my cohorts. We especially appreciated the frank reflections of Superintendent Yvonne Barnes, a graduate of our program.

I think your magazine should consider making these superintendent reflections an annual tradition. The TEE participants said they learn the most from superintendent-mentors and that reading about the events of Barnes’ first year helped them to appreciate what to expect and how to deal with the everyday pressures and challenges that are part of assuming a superintendency.

M. BETH COPENHAVER
Education Associate,
South Carolina Department of Education,
Columbia, S.C.

 

 

Letters should be addressed to:
Editor,
School Administrator
1615 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703-841-1543
E-mail:
magazine@aasa.org

 

 

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