During the 2017-2018 school year I had begun my first superintendency and was in the midst of finishing my dissertation. While I don’t recommend taking on those two tasks at the same time, it turned out to be extremely helpful.
My dissertation topic was developing instructional leaders. I conducted a case study of a principal development program that we had implemented in the large suburban district where I had been the chief academic officer. As an educator, developing people is not just my passion, it is my purpose. And so when I stepped into the CAO role, I knew that a focus on developing instructional leaders was key. Taking that experience into my first superintendency was an important part of accomplishing the goals that the Board and I had set. Without the development of the administrative team, the building principals specifically, we could not have accomplished all that we did. Writing that dissertation kept me focused on the important work that I had to accomplish to develop my leadership team.
Today, I had the opportunity to hear from four educators who realize that the future of our students and our profession is in our hands. Specifically, those of us in leadership roles must develop the talent pipeline so that our students, our schools, our districts, and our communities can thrive. Dan Domenech (Executive Director of AASA), Sharon Contreras (Superintendent of Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, NC), Ellen Goldring, (Professor and Executive Associate Dean at Vanderbilt University), and Burke Royster (Superintendent of Greenville County Schools, Greenville, SC) highlighted the inequities of the assistant principal role that often female educators and educators of color face in moving from teacher to assistant principal and beyond. And then they shared specific and practical approaches that they are taking to develop future principals and district leaders.
These exceptional leaders understand and are taking action to make our schools and our leadership teams more inclusive and equitable. I applaud them for the extensive work that they are doing “appointing, supporting, and developing talent.” It’s a worthy cause that every district leader can embrace. It is at the heart of achieving student-centered, equitable education.