Success tips from a seasoned leader
Guest column by Dr. Andy Underwood, superintendent, Belton School District – Mo.
- Have an open-door policy and mean it. Share office hours if needed.
- Be a good listener, and remember, listening doesn’t always mean taking action.
- Take time to investigate concerns and give expected times for a follow-up conversation.
- Be a learner and observer, especially in the first year.
- Research strategic plans. Talk to staff. Review notes from your interview to follow up on the Board of Education’s suggestions.
- Learn the Board of Education’s preferred mode of communication and recognize it may not be the same for every Board member.
- Communicate regularly with Board members; perhaps even pick a specific day they will be certain to hear from you. There will be other communications, but they will always hear from you on Wednesday, for example.
- Remind yourself: Anything sent in a text or email can end up on the front page of a newspaper or on social media.
- History repeats itself. Look back at the last three to four years of Board agendas. Utilize these as a guide to help you understand how the district has operated, and they may give you ideas to expedite Board meetings, such as adding a consent agenda.
- And finally: Do what is best for the kids and be able to explain why you are doing it. The response should not be “because the Board of Education made me do it.”