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Friday, December 30, 2016

New Superintendent Search: Wayland Public Schools

Our school system is seeking a new superintendent. The current superintendent is retiring. Citizens, educators, and other interested parties have been invited to attend forums, apply to serve on a screening committee, and write letters to support the search. After teaching in the Wayland Public Schools for 31 years with several years to come, I am interested in this search.

I believe that our system is an ideal school system for a seasoned, creative, and dedicated educational leader. The citizens in the community are thoughtful and committed to strong schools. The families and students are invested in successful schools and learning too. Educators in the system have served in the system consistently for years. People stay due to the tremendous community support, access to good resources, fair salaries, and opportunity for innovation.

I believe our system is the kind of system that can lead the way in education since we have what it takes to try out and implement the best blend of traditional and modern education efforts. We have the kind of system that can well educate future leaders, citizens, and individuals towards good lives of care, collaboration, and contribution. It's the kind of system where a bright, thoughtful leader invested in the promise education holds can truly lead in meaningful, positive ways.

In many ways a superintendent is called to be an "everyman" or "everywoman" in a system. This is an enormous and unrealistic expectation for any individual, yet it's the expectation systems seek when looking for a new superintendent. As I thought a lot about this today, I came up with the following attributes that I believe are important when it comes to being a successful superintendent of a school system:
  • A leader who is committed to teamwork and sees his/her role as one of creating strong, collaborative teams focused on service to students and families. Teamwork is a key concept and aim of all in our increasingly interdependent world, and a new superintendent who advocates for and models effective teamwork will be able to lead students, families, educators, and other staff members in this way.
  • Inspiring leadership who has a strong, broad, and deep vision for what education is and can be. I believe a superintendent that is well versed in deep, meaningful, and comprehensive curriculum leadership will serve the system well. In many ways, I believe curriculum efforts that reflect a blend of tried-and-true traditional methods and progressive, modern, knowledge-age efforts strikes a good balance.
  • Bright, well educated leadership that has a strong liberal arts background. A superintendent who has a broad view and value for education and knowledge at all levels serves a system well. It's important that leadership both embeds and surpasses business models, and leads education as the holistic, enriching human service that it is.
  • Ethical leadership that respects laws, protocols, and honest strategic process. It’s in the best interest of schools to have leadership that is ethical and respects laws and protocols related to education work--an ethical leader will be a good model for all he/she leads.
  • Transparent, inclusive leadership that respects and understands current trends towards greater distributive leadership that focuses on autonomy, mastery, and purpose with regard to inspiring, empowering, engaging, and educating all stakeholders.
  • A leader who communicates in timely, transparent, positive, and inclusive ways. Robust, transparent, inspiring, and timely communication serves school systems well.
  • An organized, fiscally responsible leader who utilizes successful, modern-age fiscal structures.
  • A leader who “walks the walk” with regard to our most disadvantaged and challenging-to-teach students. Leaders who seek to teach the most challenged students well will, in turn, teach all students well.
  • A leader who listens to all stakeholders and regards their points of view, needs, and interest with fair strategic process.
  • A leader who is well versed with technology and promotes meaningful tech integration to promote creative, meaningful, modern age tech integration in our schools.

It takes time for good leaders to develop. Leadership development profits from substantial mentoring, quality education, and practice. As I think about this, I believe that it's time that educational organizations at the state and national levels begin to focus more on developing strong leadership in and for schools. Leadership training should begin earlier rather than later and current efforts to develop teacher leadership is a good direction with this in mind.

Lots of attention has been spent on developing strong educators. I believe these efforts, particularly in Massachusetts, have resulted in an exceptional professional community of well educated, dedicated, and effective educators. The shortage of administrative candidates and the need for schools to still become stronger and better points us in the direction of looking for ways to strengthen and increase the numbers of leadership candidates.

If you are an education leader and want the opportunity to lead in a top-notch school system, then you may be interested in applying for the position in Wayland. I am thankful for the good process put in place to choose a new superintendent, and I am confident that a good superintendent will be chosen to lead our schools.