The School Administrator


December 2008 Number 11, Vol. 65Joys of the SuperintendencyFinding gratification and buoyancy despite travails


  • Joy When the Job's a Perfect Fit

    by Patti Ghezzi

    It’s a 24-hour job with expectations that often seem unreasonable; yet for all the stress, the bad headlines and the aggravation, superintendents on the whole are upbeat about what they do for a living. We share the stories of a representative sample.

    Similar Reading: Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana: Combining job with passion and Mark Edwards: Missing the 'joy and fun'

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  • Rearview Memories

    by Gwen E. Gross

    In her 17th year in the superintendency, the author finds the joys of her work all around her, grateful to be bestowed with the gift of leadership. She shares with colleagues a few especially meaningful moments from her professional life.

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  • Rookies No More

    by Donna Harrington-Lueker

    Our magazine revisits the lives of six educators whose first-year adventures as superintendents we chronicled after their 2001-02 rookie campaigns.

    Similar Reading: Six former rookies offer six rules

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  • Joy & Resilience: Strange Bedfellows

    by Jerry L. Patterson, George A. Goens and Diane E. Reed

    In their own experiences supporting superintendents, the authors have learned that joy in the face of adversity accrues primarily to those who possess the elements of resilience. Resilient superintendents possess the ability to recover, learn and grow stronger when confronted by chronic or crisis adversity.

    Similar Reading: Measuring your resilience and Strategies to strengthen superintendent resilience

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    Inspired by His Aspirations by Francesca Duffy

    Mark Eastman had a vision when he arrived in Oxford, Maine, in 1995 as the new superintendent and the project coordinator of the then-unfinished comprehensive high school. That vision entailed raising student aspirations, a goal to be measured by postsecondary enrollment.

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    Punchback: Answering Critics

    Countering Three Misconceptions About Administrators by Kathleen McLane

    The chief knowledge officer at the Educational Research Service has solid answers for the falsehoods and exaggerations perpetuated about public school administrators.

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    Guest Columns

    Leaders and Apologies by Pete Reilly

    Being a leader of an organization does not preclude us from being human or from making mistakes. It’s good to remember that the mistake itself is one thing. How we handle it afterward is another.

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    The Root Criticism of Urban Schools by Colin K. Armstrong

    A small-city superintendent asks you to consider four exhibits in support of his contention that the continuation of haves and have nots among public schools is all by design.

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    A Presidential Agenda for the Schools by Harold Kwalwasser

    The former general counsel in the Los Angeles Unified School District points to four ways the federal government can re-balance the federal-state-local district relationship.

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    President's Corner

    Give Me One Magnificent Obsession by Randall H. Collins

    You are a hero only when you are right. Some 27 years ago, that was perhaps the first enduring lesson in the largely joyous superintendent career of AASA’s president.

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    Systems Thinking

    From a Rough Cut to a Polished Gem by Mark T. Bielang

    A look at a school system in need through the lens of a systems-thinking superintendent.

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    Board-Savvy Superintendent

    Peppering Staff Out of Turn by Nicholas D. Caruso Jr.

    To make effective decisions, school board members need to understand what’s happening; but there’s a world of difference between a casual conversation with a staff member and an inquisition. How do you establish proper lines of communication?

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    Legalities of Conducting Internal Investigative Interviews by Michael L. Buckner

    Whether conducting your own internal investigation or cooperating with a law enforcement agency, education leaders need to be mindful of four legal considerations relating to interviews.

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    Giving Students a Voice by Mary B. Herrmann

    Finding herself removed as superintendent from the daily activities of students, the author sought opportunities to obtain fresh and honest insights of students and get a glimpse of schooling through their eyes.

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    Executive Perspective

    Why It’s All Worthwhile by Daniel A. Domenech

    Whenever he’s asked why anybody wants the job of superintendent today, AASA’s executive director thinks of Ernesto, a troubled 5th grader whom he mentored during his time in Fairfax County, Va. He retells Ernesto’s story to the rest of us.

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    Appointments and retirements in the superintendent ranks in recent months. The Sidelight glares on Superintendent Art Stellar and his valuable collection of Coca-Cola-sponsored Santa dolls.

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