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Feature                                                      Page 40-41

 
When Mom or Dad is

the Superintendent    

EDITOR’S NOTE: Superintendents whose young children attend public schools in their school district face a special challenge. How do you go about ensuring your children are treated like other students, neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by their unique connection to the chief executive of the school system?

To gain insight, we invited several college-age sons and daughters who attended K-12 schools where their parents worked as the superintendent to share something about their experience. We also solicited comments from a superintendent who was mother to a pair of high schoolers and from two superintendents who grew up with fathers who were superintendents during their school days.

‘I Know Your Father Very, Very Well’

BY BRIAN L. TALBOTT II

Talbott
Brian Talbott II (left) bears the same name as his father, who was the regional superintendent during his K-12 years. 

Many a young boy wishes to grow up to be like his father someday.

My father, Brian L. Talbott, was named superintendent of Educational Service District 105 in Yakima, Wash., the same year I entered 1st grade. He continued in this position through my elementary years. My stomping grounds changed during the summer between 6th and 7th grade when we moved to Spokane, Wash., where my dad became the superintendent of ESD 101, where he remained until retiring from the state, 10 years after I’d graduated from high school.

So what’s it like being a school-age child of a superintendent? That would certainly depend on who is narrating. My two sisters probably would share an answer of indifference. As students, both were angelic, hardworking and compliant. As the middle child sandwiched between two halo-adorned sisters, I wasn’t a particularly bad-natured kid, but I did have the innate ability to cause severe heartburn in my parents during my school years.

My tendency to find trouble was compounded by the fact that I was named after my father. I doubt anyone in the school system did not know of the connection. During roll call on the first day of class, it was common for teachers to read my name and then welcome me with something like, “Hello, Brian Jr., I know your father very, very well. I am sure we will get along splendidly.”

READ MORE ACCOUNTS:

 Sandy Doebert

Tom Schneider

Shannon Lockwood

Eric and Philip Chrostoski

One unusual twist to my situation is being the adult child of a superintendent who followed in his father’s footsteps. Several of my colleagues also are second-generation superintendents, but none of them share their parent’s name — and I’ve discovered few educators in Washington who do not know of my father’s accomplishments.

It has not been easy to be Brian L. Talbott II, particularly early in my administrative career. At times, I found it difficult to make my own mark when others were constantly sharing stories about my father and the lasting impressions he left on them. At some point, I made peace with the knowledge that others would forever make the connection. This has made all of the difference. Conversations I once shied away from are now embraced.

My father’s circle of influence is far and wide; I feel ever proud when someone comes to me with personal accounts of Brian Sr. I could not begin to guess the number of strangers who have introduced themselves simply to tell me they know my father and his work. As a less egocentric individual, I now realize what a gift it has been to have so many people share with me their genuine respect for my dad. That has been by far the greatest part of being the superintendent’s kid.

Many a son wishes to grow up to be like his father someday. This one still does.

Brian Talbott is superintendent of the Nine Mile Falls School District in Nine Mile Falls, Wash. E-mail: btalbott@9mile.org

 

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