Superintendent Search Committee members shared their findings from focus groups held in December. Most groups held the same concerns and were looking for similar qualities and attributes. Collaboration and communication with parents and community were foremost in many groups.
However, the most interesting comments shared came from the Business focus group. It was reported that this group was concerned with expectations for our children first. They wanted to make sure that our next superintendent actually demonstrated a “Children First” attitude and wanted to know how their leadership would place our students in competition with or above suburban students.
Another outstanding requirement that resonated throughout the focus groups was demonstrating a commitment to the Rochester City School District. Groups wanted a superintendent who is not just passing through on their way to higher grounds. Given the average length of tenure for superintendents in New York State is 3 to 5 years, it is doubtful that this requirement will be met by anyone who is not already a longstanding member of our community.
Members were then charged with compiling a list of questions to be used to interview potential candidates for our district’s next superintendent. It was stressed that there should be multiple levels of questions, those that are more general and those that would actually get at the heart of who the candidates are and what they actually believed about education.
Search committee members seemed intent on finding a superintendent that had and could display experience and success in an urban setting. Once again, given the state of urban education throughout the United States, it is questionable that any seasoned superintendent from any urban district can fulfill that requirement.
As with our system of education, the search for our superintendent must take on a new perspective. It is time to think outside the box and set innovation and creativity free to show us the way to success. As adults we must be role models for our children. When we use our imagination to problem solve, we can teach children to do the same.
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