Other leaders in education have written articles about knowing when it’s time to leave a position or district. In most cases they are discussing situations in which tensions have grown, a BOE has changed, priorities and relationships transitioned, and it’s time for a superintendent of schools to move on. I went to hear retired Erie 1 BOCES superintendent Don Ogilvie speak on this topic and that of administrative resiliency earlier this year as part of the WNY Educational Services Council speaker series.
My question to Mr. Ogilvie was different. I wanted to know, “how do you know when it’s time to move on when things are really GOOD?”
Since sometime over the summer, I’ve been thinking about our work at Randolph and the rest of my career. Things are really good at RCS! Sure there are things to do–there are always things to do in an organization with an $18 million budget, almost 200 employees, and 950 students. But we’ve generally got it figured out and as our teams have grown in their competence, I’ve felt more and more irrelevant.
Mentally I’m craving the kind of organizational systems problem solving that gives me a sense of purpose. I want to know that my work is making a significant difference that benefits students and employees. We’ve largely figured those things out at RCS over the past several years. We have experienced teachers, administrators who know our systems and how they best work to serve our students, and an incredibly experienced, thoughtful BOE–the place is humming along nicely. This is evidenced by our consistent and dramatic increases in academic achievement, our climate survey results, and our successful contract negotiations and positive budget votes.
So, what would you do? Continue to work in the environment you’ve tried so hard to create, knowing that your biggest problems are behind you? Or leave the sustainability of the system to the other leaders in the organization who have it down, choosing instead to look for another opportunity to impact an educational system elsewhere? Perhaps there’s another school system where those working hard within that district and those children and families could benefit from committed, sustained instructional leadership? And your sense of purpose and meaning could be renewed? Or do you sit back and enjoy the ride?
I have been the proud superintendent of the Randolph Central School District since the Fall of 2008. In this, my eighth school year here, I’ve decided to take on a challenge in another district. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been selected and appointed as the superintendent of schools for the Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District. I will start there on March 7, 2016.
My reasons for this decision are centered on the incredible accomplishments of everyone at Randolph. The problems we had when I arrived have been eradicated: there is again trust between the employees, administration, and BOE members; we have systems in place in which teachers support one another with a coherent, shared curriculum; teachers are doing more with technology tools that personalize learning for all students every year; we’re on the cusp of purchasing a useful basal reading series that will help to improve our ELA instruction even more; everyone in the system is pulling his or her own weight; we have cleaner buildings (and floors!), and a capital project all set to go that will take care of masonry, roof tops, phone and data upgrades, fire detection and alarm systems, stage rigging and lighting, a safer parking lot flow, a new track and a new heating system in the high school. We continue to hold a strong budget position that balances the needs of our students with the needs of our taxpayers. And I have more confidence in our administrative team than ever before at RCS.
I’ve realized with every passing day “they’ve got this!” I want to have a feeling of purpose again, to go where I’m needed. I want to think and analyze and solve problems. And I’m 100% certain that with everyone we have here, working hard each and every day, our expectations of excellence will continue for all of our students.
What an honor and privilege it has been to be a part of the Randolph community these past years! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the academic achievements, the state championships, the countless excellent lessons I’ve observed, and most of all, the relationships I’ve enjoyed with so many of you. A huge part of my heart will always be a Cardinal!