What Is A Superintendent Of Schools?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It is often said that the most important role of a board of education is to hire its superintendent. I think that is a somewhat a valid claim. Certainly if you value public education, you must have competent leadership managing the daily operations of the school district. A good superintendent leads the districts educational, financial and administrative performance; facilitates the performance of all personnel; and responds to and informs stakeholders and policymakers about the performance and leadership of the district. 

Having met many, if not most, superintendents of schools here in Tennessee, I believe we do have some excellent leaders across our state. Probably one of the most important duties of the superintendent is to make sure district students are learning and achieving at the highest level possible. A superintendent must understand effective academic practices and be supportive of the teachers and administrators in the district. Leadership, vision, and strategic thinking are critical skills for every superintendent. A successful superintendent is should also be an effective and excellent communicator. If the only voice a superintendent listens to is his/her own, or a few members of the school board, public education will eventually lose community support. 

In the last few years, I have seen some horrifying treatment of superintendents across the state. I have seen them maligned by anonymous message boards, attacked in the media, belittled by their own school board members, often unfairly. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s quote: “Great minds talk about ideas; good minds talk about events; small minds talk about people.” 

Does that mean that we simply accept decisions from superintendents, without challenging them? Of course not! We must particularly hold them accountable in regard to educational, financial and administrative performance. However, we should provide them latitude in regards to leadership, vision and strategic thinking on how to address the performance in those areas. And we must expect them to communicate effectively to all stakeholders. 

The American Association of School Administrators suggests that the superintendent, like principals, must also demonstrate a keen understanding of teaching, learning and what works for students. As a change leader, a successful superintendent should emphasize the efficient use of resources, personnel, and data to break down resistance and drive systemic change; empower board and personnel to set goals, measure results, develop accountability, and support planning, evaluation, and resource allocation. 

Our state has made some incredible strides in public education. It is an accomplishment that we should admire and respect. It begins with the men and women in the classroom across this state, and we must also acknowledge the hard work of those who lead our schools. 

J.C. Bowman
Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville



Soddy Daisy Residents Fed Up With Trains Blocking Roads

Trains have always occasionally blocked roads in the northern part of Hamilton County. However, since the workforce reduction in the rail yard, the occurrences have increased exponentially. When the railroad cut the workforce, several employees mentioned that this would be a byproduct. Man....they weren’t kidding.  To compound the problem, the county has yet to add another ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Not Good People?

It makes no difference if you are a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative – I believe we will all come up short this Tuesday when Alabama announces the winner of a special election for a new Senator. On one hand you have Roy Moore, a controversial judge who has been bounced off the state’s Supreme Court twice, painted as a pedophile by numerous accusers, and just observed ... (click for more)

Driver Of Stolen Car Jumps Out; Leaves Pregnant Cousin In Vehicle As It Hits Pole, Wall, Creek

The driver of a stolen car jumped out, leaving his 15-week pregnant cousin in the vehicle as it hit a power pole and a wall before plunging into a creek. Michael Jalen Sawyer, 20, of Clinton, Tn., was charged with evading arrest, improper registration, reckless endangerment, theft of property over $10,000, failure to maintain lane and vandalism. Police said the incident happened ... (click for more)

Neighbor Takes Photo Of Burglar; Brian Alex Stone Arrested

A neighbor who went over to check on a house break-in has led to the arrest of Brian Alex Stone Jr. Stone, 23, of 3210 Broad St., is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property. Police were notified on Dec. 1 that a burglary had just taken place on Trailwood Drive. The suspect was a black male with twists in his hair, who was driving a silver Dodge Caliber. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Back To .500 With Win Over 49ers

The Chattanooga Mocs are now at .500 for the first time this season after Sunday afternoon’s 64-50 victory over the North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers. Progress has been slow at times for the youngest team in the NCAA, but the Mocs played much better in the first half than they did in the first and were rewarded with a 14-point victory after being tied at halftime. “We had ... (click for more)

UTC Women Fall To Virginia Tech 64-44

The Chattanooga Lady Mocs started off the current basketball season with three straight losses, including a 60-30 whipping at Green Bay on November 11. Things had gotten better since that time as the Lady Mocs came into Sunday afternoon’s home game with Virginia Tech on a six-game winning streak, but the train jumped off the track, the local girls had one of their poorest performances ... (click for more)