Quick: Think of three things that have made you truly sad in your life. Did the exit of a school superintendent make the list? Didn’t think so. Lest any former superintendents feel slighted …
Quick: Think of three things that have made you truly sad in your life.
Did the exit of a school superintendent make the list?
Didn’t think so.
Lest any former superintendents feel slighted — there have been some wonderful people helming local schools over the years, and in my years covering our local districts, I’ve had equally wonderful experiences with them.
But if you’ve ever looked at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (go ahead, Google it ... it’s pretty cool), there’s no mention of “school superintendents.”
The psychological theory developed by Abraham Maslow back in the 1940s is shaped like a pyramid with “self-actualization” at the top, with esteem just below it, then love and belongingness, safety, and finally physiological. Each bit gets wider and wider, the pyramid building out.
Take a look at it as a parent, and the place where your child spends most of their time 180 days a year comes into focus.
It’s as a parent that I took hardest the news that Sullivan West Superintendent Steve Walker had decided to leave for a school system closer to home.
A graduate of one of the three districts dissolved to create Sullivan West in 1999, I chose purposely to raise a child here. I’ve long seen its advantages.
But parenting a teenager has put in particular perspective the rapid changes in education over the decades since I was shoving my knees beneath a desk and my books in a locker.
We’re preparing kids for a world now where the job you have post college may not even exist on the day you graduate from high school, where being able to advocate for yourself is now seen as a must-have rather than a liability.
In these past few years, Steve Walker has opened up this district like never before, helping students find their voices and make them heard. It’s not a job he’s done alone, certainly. There are myriad staff members in the district who have played crucial roles in moving opportunities for our kids ahead, but there’s little question that an open mind at the top end of the management period has been beneficial.
The Sullivan West school board now has a challenging search ahead of them, to find someone with the expertise, the energy, and the attention to the current climate that we’ve had in recent years.
I say this as a parent, it’s true.
But with a child slated to graduate in less than two years, I say this as a member of our community too.
Because this community’s needs — physiological, safety, and so on — depend on the generation being nurtured in our schools right now.
Losing them would make us all sad.
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