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


For The Benefit Of Soddy, Keep Rick Nunley, Robert Cothran

For the benefit of Soddy Daisy,  please keep Rick Nunley and Robert Cothran on the Soddy Daisy City Commission. Those are two men who have made the city of Soddy daisy great. Rick Nunley and Robert Cothran have both worked hard for the city. Please, re-elect Rick Nunley and Robert Cothran for Soddy Daisy City Commission. ... (click for more)

Stop Mahan Gap Sewer Plant - And Response

Hit the pause button, please.  Improved sewer service is needed in Hamilton County.  $3 million for 150 +/-  acres of flood plain and wildlife habitat is not the answer.  Let's find a better solution. If WWTA would justify their actions they wouldn’t have to defend themselves against angry mobs like at the recent public meeting.  ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Investigating Shooting That Victim Says Happened A Week Ago

Chattanooga Police responded to a local hospital on Friday evening after a person arrived with a gunshot wound.   The injured man told police he was shot on Thursday, Oct. 11. He said he was shot while on the dance floor of a club somewhere along Brainerd Road.   If you have any information about the incident, call Chattanooga Police at 423-698-2525. You ... (click for more)

Corker Doubtful On Latest Saudi Version Of Death Of Writer At Consulate In Istanbul

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday expressed doubt about Saudi Arabia’s claims regarding the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post. He said, “The story the Saudis have told about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance continues to change with each passing day, so we should not assume their ... (click for more)

Mocs Soccer Ties VMI 2-2

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga came back from a 2-0 deficit early with a pair of first half goals. The two teams battled it out for a draw in the season finale for both teams. The Mocs close out the year at 8-7-3 overall and 4-3-2 in league play, tied with Mercer for sixth in the standings. The Keydets are 6-8-2 on the year and 0-8-1 against the conference. “As ... (click for more)

Baylor, GPS, CCS Advance To State Soccer Semifinals

Baylor traveled to Briarcrest in Memphis on Saturday to compete for a Division II-AA final four spot.  After play to a 0-0 tie in the first half, Baylor would find itself down 1-0 in the 63rd minute when Anna Strong scored off a corner kick.  That lead did not last long as Ara Rhodes scored the game tying goal one minute later off an Avery David corner kick. Two minutes ... (click for more)