Retiring superintendents were honored during a luncheon at ACSA’s Superintendents’ Symposium in January. From left, Stuart Packard, Terri Rufert, Linda Irving, Kelly Bowers, Christine Facella, John Curry, Mary McNeil, Jeff Malan and Robert Adams.
Advice for new supts
February 13, 2023
It’s been said that wisdom is the reward of experience and should be shared. California school superintendents who are retiring this year are sharing their wisdom gained from their time in school leadership.
Retiring superintendents were recently honored for their leadership and service to California students during the 2023 ACSA Superintendents’ Symposium.
Each spent more than 30 years in education and followed their passion for teaching into school leadership, where they reached the highest levels of administration. Their efforts will impact student success in their districts for years to come.
Nine retiring superintendents who attended the symposium offered their advice to new superintendents and those aspiring to the role. Here’s what they had to say.
Jeff Malan, Barstow Unified School District “Practice patience and perseverance.”
Stuart Packard, Buttonwillow Union School District Quoting Steve Farber, “Do what you love in the service of others who love what you do.”
Robert Adams, Redding Elementary School District “Education is made up of people in your local community serving the people of that community. We are people serving people. Live the values in your actions in everything you do by making decisions around what is best for kids.”
Christine Facella, Riverbank Unified School District “Among all of the tasks of the job it is of upmost importance to keep your eye on the main thing: students. I would add that relationships are the key to building a positive culture and you have to be among the people frequently to make that a reality.”
Mary McNeil, Needles Unified School District “This is the very best position in our profession because you can truly make a difference for students and your school community. You do need to grow a thick skin and maintain a positive outlook even in the face of adversity. Always focus on students and the good you are doing!”
Terri Rufert, Sundale Union Elementary School District “Be a servant leader who makes people more important than the processes. Make your decisions based on what is best for the children.”
John Curry, Weaver Union School District “Keep the focus on the students at all times and through all decisions. Be the encourager for your district and remember that you can’t do it all on your own.”
Kent Kern, San Juan Unified School District “Listen a lot more than you speak.”
Linda Irving, Sebastopol Union Elementary School District “Flexibility is the key to mental health! Surround yourself with good people and always focus on students.”
Kelly Bowers, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District “There will be many pressures and political issues that can distract you from your mission and purpose — serving the best interest of kids. So be strong, ‘buffer the noise’ and stay true to what is right and best for kids, never losing sight of why you chose public service and education. Learn and lead with integrity, not expediency.”
Retiring superintendents with ACSA leadership.
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