Meet Our Graduates : John Ewald

Recently, one of our SUPES Team members was able to catch up with 2012 SUPES Academy graduate, John D. Ewald! Ewald is the current sitting Superintendent of Laurel School District in Laurel, Delaware.  He began his time at Laurel in October 2012, and has been working tirelessly ever since to prepare students for success in the 21st century.  Ewald was able to share with us a few highlights of his time in the SUPES Academy, as well as important aspects he has learned in his current Superintendency.

SUPES: Looking back, what was the most beneficial to you over the course of the ten day academy?

Ewald: I think the most beneficial thing was the ability to work closely with existing practitioners, sitting superintendents, master teachers and speakers, as well as building my networks with those individuals who presented and taught us, as well as my fellow members of the cohort.

SUPES: Excellent. So, we had several guest speakers, as you mentioned, come to speak for the cohort during your sessions. Which one stuck with you the most after your graduation?

Ewald: I think that each one of these individuals I'm about to mention -- the thing that connected and resonated was their direct commitment to students -- and that the whole networks was driven by students, and providing the best instructional tutoring program and access to such programming. All of the other things just sort of fell to the side as just as important, but their ideal commitment to students had ideal access for instructional programming. That would be Dallas Dance, Bill Pike, Brian Osborne, Tom Brady.

SUPES: Very nice, all great examples. Now, I went onto your website and noticed you had a Twitter feed. How does technology play a role in your Superintendency?

Ewald: It plays a huge role! I have a Twitter account, Instagram account, Facebook account. That's my ability to communicate with others within a larger community. It's a way to share articles of interest for me, as well as showcase instructional practice. My Twitter feed is a combination of pictures and highlights from regular classrooms and school visits, as well as articles that are of relevance to the work that we're doing in my district or across the nation.

SUPES: What advice would you give someone that was interested in joining the cadre of SUPES Academy graduates?

Ewald: I’d go for it, and stay connected with your colleagues. Superintendency can be very lonely if you let it, but take advantage of the support and networking opportunities, as well as the number of opportunities SUPES provides.

A big thank you to John D. Ewald for taking the time to speak with us! You can tweet John D. Ewald (@LaurelDelSuper).

Reads, Resources, and Reviews

Reading and natural curiosity are two of the cornerstones of life-long learning. At SUPES, we are committed to both individual and group development and practicing what Peter Senge describes as the principles of a learning organization. This segment of our web presence is designed to foster team learning, starting with dialogue, suspending our assumptions, and entering into genuine thinking together. (The Fifth Discipline)

Here, we will provide book reviews, updates/perspectives on educational research, and discussions on other important information that impacts school leaders. As this is designed to elicit responses, please send any comments to [email protected]. We will share our collective thoughts.

Let’s begin our conversations:

Essential Questions: What truly motivates people and how do we leverage this information throughout of educational system for staff, parents, students, and others?

Book Review #1: Drive by Daniel Pink

All professionals in the educational system have to consider how to motivate their people. Teachers assess their students’ levels of motivation while administrators consider the dedication and work ethic of their faculty. As leaders, however, we rarely study motivation and how this impacts our work (and our home life for that matter). In Drive, Daniel Pink shares some great insights into high performance and job satisfaction. Many of the findings will seem contrary to much of what we thought we knew about people and systems. With decades of scientific research behind his findings, Pink demonstrates that the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach is not ideal to motivate the modern worker.  “The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road. Indeed, most of the scandals and misbehavior that have seemed endemic to modern life involve shortcuts.” Unfortunately, we have many examples of this mentality in educational systems throughout the country.

Armed with statistics, like 70% of job growth is heuristic (a task that has no algorithm, but demands experimentation and novel solutions), the conversation shifts to developing intrinsic motivation and creativity both of which are enhanced with autonomy. Our current circumstances in education seem to be restricting the autonomy (or perceived control) of both students and staff. “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” Where in our systems do we encourage this behavior? While as educators we may understand the importance of higher causes more than some businesses, are we really leveraging these altruistic beliefs and empowering people to make decisions in this manner?

When Daniel Pink reflected on experiments with monkeys he commented on the findings. “The monkeys solved the puzzle simply because they found it gratifying to solve puzzles. They enjoyed it. The joy of the task was its own reward.” Are current accountability systems and personal leadership behaviors helping to emphasize the joy of task completion or to punish certain results?

Drive is a truly worthy read for all educators. It will provide great perspective (with scientific basis), demonstrate a need to change, and offer suggestions to those willing to grow!

I welcome any comments, questions and critiques.

Meet Our Graduates : Thomas Anderson

Thomas Anderson was raised in East Hartford, Conn. After graduating high school he attended the University of Rhode Island for his Bachelor’s Degree, and Howard University for his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.  He quickly rose through the ranks, and served as a district network leader in Washington, D.C. During his time as a network leader, Anderson served 5,700 students ranging from pre-K to 12, 30% of them special needs.  He was accepted to The SUPES Academy in September 2013.

Thomas Anderson achieved his first Superintendent position only one month after graduating from the SUPES Academy in February 2014.  He was one of two finalists chosen by the Randolph School Committee in Massachusetts. His opponent having six years’ experience in state, yet, Anderson won with a six to one vote.  His votes were directly attributed to his “strong track record”, and that “he would serve as a good example” to students in the community. Furthermore, he was the “the right person (for the job), not just the best of the candidates”.  The one board member who did not vote for him, was simply worried about Anderson’s "lack of experience."  Despite his critics, many members of the community think Anderson will "provide the most leadership for our town" and will work in a collaborative way at all levels of the community. 

Introducing The AASA National Superintendent Preparation Academy Cohort 3

We've made the final acceptances for the 2015-2017 AASA National Superintendent Preparation Academy, being held in Chicago.  We had an extreme interest in this experience and were able to narrow it down to the following accepted cohort members.  Below is a map of their locations, along with name and district.  Congratulations!!!

  • Michael  Almeida - Superintendent of Coventry Public Schools (RI)
  • William Burke - Superintendent of Spring Hill (KS) USD 230 (KS)
  • Jason Conway - Superintendent of Lake Forest School District (DE)
  • Brian Creasman - Superintendent of Fleming County Schools (KY)
  • Frank DeFelice - Superintendent of Bangor Area School District (PA)
  • Edward Drapp - Superintendent of Regional School District No. 6 (CT)
  • Doc Ervin - Superintendent of Greenfield Union  (CA)
  • Glenn Faircloth - Superintendent of Lorain County JVSD (OH)
  • Alicia Henderson - Superintendent of Bellevue Union School District (CA)
  • Philip Hickman - Superintendent of Columbus Municipal School District (MS)
  • R. Scott Jeffrey - Superintendent of Byron Public Schools (MN)
  • Kym LeBlanc-Esparza - Superintendent of Newberg School District (OR)
  • James Mckay - Superintendent of CHSD 117 (IL)
  • Susie Meade - Superintendent of Winterset (IA)
  • Jarod Mendenhall - Superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools (OK)
  • Earl Metzler - Superintendent of SAU 55 (NH)
  • Khalid  Mumin - Superintendent of Reading (PA)
  • Tom  Muzzey - Superintendent of Orchard Farm (MO)
  • Roberto Padilla - Superintendent of Newburgh Public Schools (NY)
  • Miguel Perez - Superintendent of Jim Hogg County ISD (TX)
  • Marc Puig - Superintendent of Culberson County (TX)
  • Danielle Root - Superintendent of Hot Springs School District (SD)
  • Patricia Sheffer - Superintendent of Union County Public Schools (KY)
  • Curtiss Strietelmeier - Superintendent of MSD of New Durham Township (IN)
  • Rodney Watson - Superintendent of Spring Independent School District (TX)
  • Sonya  Whitaker - Superintendent of Fairmont School District (IL)
  • Andrew Wise - Superintendent of Olympia CUSD #16 (IL)