Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Opportunity of a Lifetime


Tonight I sat in a classroom for my doctoral program and thought that it was going to be just another class.  I was wrong.  With a tremendous thank you to Dr. Craig Larson I had the experience of a lifetime.  I can honestly say I am changed forever from this experience.

I had the opportunity to sit in a room of superintendents, two of I knew, three I did not, and just listen and ask questions.  It was amazing.  The questions and answers were unscripted and unfiltered which made for an experience like no other.  Let me explain something to you, I love learning, but this experience sent me to a whole new level.  It was just amazing.

In the interest of sharing I also tweeted every memorable statement made by the panelists and compiled them below.  The whole experience opened my eyes and really made me so excited about great leadership in education.  It excited me to no end that I have chosen this profession.  This experience confirmed to me that this is what I want my life to be about.

The panel included:

Dr. Craig Larson - Former Superintendent of the Rockwood School District
Dr. Stan Lawrence - Superintendent of school for the Normandy School District
Dr. Kelvin Adams - Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools
Dr. Cheyrl Compton - Superintendent of the Ritenour School District
Dr. Marsha Chappelow - Superintendent of the Ladue School district

Memorable quotes I posted on twitter (@cmcgee200)

  • As a Supt.  you have to be who you are.  You don't hunt a Supt. job, it finds you.  -S.Compton #edchat
  • As a Supt. you have to realize it's not about you.  It's about what's best for kids. #edchat
  • Learn everything you can learn, touch everything you can touch, in order to learn to prepare you for educational leadership.-K.Adams #edchat
  • I've always believed I should always take the most difficult and challenging job. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • As a Supt.  The job is everything I thought it would be. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • As a Supt. I wanted to work for people who were champions for children of poverty. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • Smooth transitions are caused from asking hard questions but dealing in reality. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • Bringing people together behind good marketing, successful issues and community revitalization will yield success. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • When you take into account all the circumstances poverty brings, we have new challenges to uncover. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • What do you do when your staff population doesn't reflect your student population? #edchat
  • We're going to find the best candidate, we don't believe the best candidate is white.  We actively recruit BEST teachers -S.Compton #edchat
  • Kids need role models of people who look like them. -S.Compton #edchat
  • I feel like people have less ownership of their pub schools because so many affluent dist send kids to private schools. -M.Chappelow #edchat
  • When I have a challenge I like to look at what are my chances for success -M.Chappelow #edchat
  • If we don't get more people going into education, we are in trouble, we are losing all the valuable candidates. -M.Chappelow #edchat
  • When we look to hire we evaluate learning potential and cultural sensitivity -K.Adams #edchat
  • The most important job in a school district is HR, putting the right people in the right places. -S.Compton #edchat
  • As a Supt. surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, my uncle said that wouldn't be hard for me. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • Have a mind to understand, try to touch everything in your dist, work in a small district when starting out to learn more. -K.Adams #edchat
  • Learn to ask the right kind of questions and rely on your experience -K.Adams #edchat
  • Ed. Leadership: Ask more questions than trying to come to your own conclusions. -K.Adams #edchat
  • As a Supt, I'm not the keeper of all the knowledge.  I get good at asking a lot of questions. S.Compton #edchat
  • If you hire thoroughbreds, you need to let them be thoroughbreds.  It takes talent to manage talent. -S.Compton #edchat
  • As a Supt.  You are making decisions that are connected.  You can't make a decision in a silo. M.Chappelow #edchat
  • As a Supt.  we need to connect with the work by helping with teacher evaluation and supporting building principals -S.Compton #edchat
  • As Supt we GET what the priority is when we are in the classroom supporting teachers -S.Compton #edchat
  • As Supt.  I think our role needs to be supporting building principals, we are in a service industry. -K.Adams #edchat
  • School site is the important place, the classroom is the most important place. -K.Adams #edchat
  • Central office should be called the "campus support center" -S. Lawrence #edchat
  • As a Supt. my value to you is to support you and help you get the job done.  -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • Some of the decisions that were made were not popular, that's leadership.  -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • Push-back and criticism are part of leadership -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • Kids deserve the very best. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • We have an obligation as administrators to help struggling teachers.  Troops notice how the generals treat the wounded. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • What "red lights" have you had to run in your tenure in ed leaderhsip? #edchat
    • I really don't think you can lead without running every red light. -K.Adams #edchat
    • Don't see as red lights, every decision "what needs to happen to align our work so they can be who they want to be."-S.Compton #edchat
  • They might need to be a nurse, they might need to be a brain surgeon not every one needs to be a principal or a teacher. -S.Compton #edchat
  • Sometimes good is not good enough, we need great. -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • We need OUTSTANDING leaders, teachers, and staff for the value of our children's lives -S.Lawrence #edchat
  • As a Supt. I over-invest in my school board. -S.Lawrence #edchat #cpchat
  • I have a preference to work with intelligent people. -S.Lawrence #edchat #cpchat
  • Supt.: Never take a job when it's a 4-3 vote.  You need unanimous support.  -K.Adams #edchat #cpchat
  • Supt: board meeting takes an hour, that's too long, I've been communicating about whats going on, they should know -K.Adams #edchat #cpchat
  • I was told elected boards don't work, it must be your job to communicate with your board, then it will.  -K.Adams #edchat #cpchat
  • Were reculturing what we are doing.  Good can be the enemy of great.  -M. Chappelow #edchat #cpchat
  • When you hire good people there is a mass of people asking: "why do we do it that way?"-M.Chappelow #edchat #cpchat
  • We're growing, we are getting less money through AV, there's the crunch in education -M.Chappelow #edchat #cpchat
  • When a district loses trust, you have to gain it back, it's emotional process -M.Chappelow #edchat #cpchat
  • I like to plant seeds, things don't more fast in education. -M.Chappelow #edchat #cpchat
  • Having an attitude of proactively planning for the future is my key to success. -M.Chappelow #edchat #cpchat


Reading back through these statements I try to grasp exactly what happened tonight. I want to say I think the 25 students that to the opportunity to meet, question, and learn form these amazing leaders have changed permanently.  We learned valuable lessons, but I think more than anything, we learned about hope.  Hope for a greater education for the next generation.  We were blessed to have this opportunity to learn from such AMAZING leaders and get a small glimpse of what being a true leader means.

Some of my favorite comments from tonight include:

Learn everything you can learn, touch everything you can touch, in order to learn to prepare you for educational leadership.-K.Adams 

As an aspiring administrator this validated my path and reminded me that there is no bad learning experience, there is always something I can learn and take away.

Sometimes good is not good enough, we need great. -S.Lawrence

I think about this everyday.  That lesson that I did last year is not good enough for my kids this year.  I need to improve what I do everyday.  One of my favorite quotes is "Never let good stand in the way of being great."

When I have a challenge I like to look at what are my chances for success -M.Chappelow

This goes back to my blog post on solving problems in schools.  Every time I'm faced with an obstacle the bottom-line to accomplishing the task at hand is in your perception of the obstacle.  Is it a problem that requires a solution, a constraint that I will have to live with moving forward, or an opportunity to improve the organization.  I will always consider an obstacle as an opportunity to learn, grow, and get better at what I do everyday.

If you hire thoroughbreds, you need to let them be thoroughbreds.  It takes talent to manage talent. -S.Compton

WOW!  Powerful statement.  If we hire great teachers, how can we as educational leaders inspire, motivate and support them to be all that they can be (do I have to pay Army for that statement?)?  I love this quote because it shows the importance of human resources and the role it plays on the development of a great school.

FInally, I leave you with a GREAT song/video, thank you to Dr. Lawrence who mentioned it tonight.


  1. "If you hire thoroughbreds, you need to let them be thoroughbreds. It takes talent to manage talent. -S.Compton" That is a GREAT quote. Nice article and insight into administration. They have a very difficult job to do.

  2. Truly. Amazing insights provided by some amazing and insightful people.