Phil Lanoue: 50 Million Lines and 50 Million Faces

Superintendents from as close as Arlington, Va. and as far away as Norway are convening in the nation’s capital this week as part of AASA’s Superintendent of the Year Forum. At last night’s third annual gala, held at Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, Philip D. Lanoue, superintendent of Clarke Country Schools in Athens, Ga., and the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year, delivered the keynote address.

"Public education is the foundation of our country,” said Lanoue. “We have over 50 million students in public education. For all of us in this room, this country has been given the sole responsibility for educating all children, no matter what circumstances, to get them to new places.” 

Under his leadership, the Clarke County School District has been honored as a Title I Distinguished District for being Georgia’s No. 1 large district for closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students.

During his remarks, Lanoue recognized the large-scale decisions superintendents make on an everyday basis and the impact these decisions have on every child in every district. He suggested that education decision makers would benefit by following a number of themes he described. They are as follows:

  • Trust. Do our kids trust each other? Do our kids trust our teachers? Do our parents trust our teachers? Does our community trust what we do?
  • Advocacy. Do we truly advocate for every single one of them (our students) when they walk into our school buildings? Superintendents, policymakers and rule makers, we have to get it right, every day.
  • Heart. Mechanics mean nothing without heart. Our classrooms and our policies have to ensure that our teachers have heart.
  •   Inspiration. If you’re teaching, someone has to be learning. Teaching is about inspiring people.
  • Risks. We have to take risks with our children. If we go back into the classrooms and ask, “How do I move kids to another level?” (You do that by) taking risks.
  • Healthy children. We have to educate healthy children. You want to close the achievement gap? Excellent teaching and healthy children.
  •  Role models. Adults have to be role models. Our kids today need role models like they’ve never needed them before. 
  •  Hold on. When we look at our most marginalized children, we have to hold on. When we let go, they’re gone.

When making decisions, Lanoue suggested to “draw a line from that decision to that face,” Lanoue said. “That’s 50 million lines and 50 million faces. We’ve done a lot of great work but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Visit the AASA website to learn more about the 2015 AASA Superintendents of the Year.


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