In 2008, I called my Mom and Dad to tell them I had just been hired to be the Superintendent in the Grand Ledge Public Schools.
I was met with silence on the other end of the phone.
Finally, my Mom piped up, “I never really liked Central Office.”
My Mother was a teacher for 36 years. My Father taught for 33. They loved the classroom, loved their students, but, evidently, did not love Superintendents.
Even without my parents’ warm embrace of my career pathway, I am entering my 12th year as a Superintendent. I served for three years in the Grand Ledge Public Schools and I am entering my 9th year as the Superintendent of the Novi Community School District.
I did not start out to be a teacher or a Superintendent. As noted both my parents taught for many years. My sister followed in their footsteps, as did her husband. All of them followed in my grandfather’s footsteps who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Oklahoma. So I was committed to doing something besides being an educator.
But, I was drawn back to education because I saw it as a way to make a difference. I was working in Lubbock, Texas, as a family social worker in the foster care unit of the Texas Department of Human Services. I was trying to reunite children who had been placed in foster care with their parents. It was difficult work.
I made the decision that I wanted to be in a profession that addressed issues at the front end instead of the backend. At 28 I returned to school to earn my teacher certification. Two years later I found myself as the English department in a small, rural 6th grade classroom in Hale Center, Texas.
In 1987 my wife and our two boys moved to Michigan. Shortly thereafter I began working for Wayne State University with their freshmen transition program. After our third son was born and after earning my doctorate at Wayne State University, I was hired by the University of Michigan-Dearborn in their School of Education. From there I went to the Troy School District as the Director of Curriculum and then onto Grand Ledge and Novi.
I am glad that my career pathway allowed me to become a Superintendent. I think my Mom has changed her mind a little and likes at least one Superintendent now.
I think it is me, but I am not completely sure.