Vulnerability Played to My Advantage

Type: Article
Topics: School Administrator Magazine

October 02, 2023

My View

First impressions matter. Whereas good first impressions can serve as the foundation for a strong relationship, bad first impressions are nearly impossible to undo.

For school leaders assuming a new position, few first impressions are more important than the opening-day speech. When I became a superintendent for the first time in 2018, I wanted to make my opening-day speech extra special. So we took all 250 employees of the school district to a nearby convention center for a Back-to-School Celebration a week before school started.

As a relatively young superintendent at the time (36 years old), I felt pressure to show I could effectively lead the district despite my age. Hoping to set a tone of competence and confidence, I crafted an introductory speech outlining my educational history, work accomplishments, leadership philosophy and long-term goals.

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Jared Smith


Waterloo, Iowa