April 2022: School Administrator


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Editor's Note

Reviewing One’s Big Decisions

Peter Stiepleman first contacted me last summer. He had just completed a solid seven-year run as the superintendent in Columbia, Mo., and was the reigning Missouri Superintendent of the Year. Stiepleman was starting a sabbatical year to write and reflect.

Having had a satisfying experience with AASA a couple of years prior as a graduate of the AASA Superintendent Certification program, he asked about the possibilities we might offer for sharing his professional reflections on school system leadership.

As he noted during our conversation, superintendents often don’t have the time to engage in after-action reviews of their work. “We don’t get to ask ourselves what got overlooked or what we learned about relationships — or what relationships were formed,” he told me. “We don’t get to explore what made us angry or what we, personally, could have done differently. We don’t get to, in the end, say what good came out of the experience. Hospital administrators do this regularly. The military does this routinely. Not school administrators, though.”

Stiepleman is nearing completion of a book project deconstructing the big decisions he had to make over his years in central-office leadership and as superintendent in Columbia, a district of 19,000 students with urban, suburban and rural characteristics.

His article for us, “Navigating Discussions of Race and Class,” draws from the personal journals he maintained and applies honest reflection.

Jay P. Goldman
Editor, School Administrator

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