Aspiring School Superintendents Get the Inside Story

April 18, 2018

Find mentors who will help you grow. Invest in your leadership team. Encourage openness and honesty. Build relationships. Protect your credibility. Become communication/social media savvy. Pick your battles. Remember who you serve.
Those were some of the tips Briarcliff Superintendent James Kaishian and Hendrick Hudson Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter offered to aspiring school leaders from across New York Wednesday at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES.
When leading a school district, Kaishian said, “It is important to check your ego at the door. Your ability to marshal resources and create an environment where people want to take risks doesn’t require you to insert your ego or positional authority.”
Hochreiter urged attendees to frame their decisions in a way that is meaningful to parents. “Parents care most about the classroom, then the school, and last what is happening in the district as a whole,” he said. “So, explain your decisions in the context of what they will mean in the classroom.”
The workshop, sponsored by BOCES Center for Educational Leadership and the Leadership for Educational Achievement Foundation, the development arm of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, and CSArch Architecture, featured talks on things to consider about the superintendency, skills for success as a superintendent, preparing for the superintendency, the importance of superintendent diversity, and insights from newer superintendents and reflections.
BOCES Superintendent Dr. James Ryan welcomed the participants to the workshop, which was facilitated by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Allen.
“All of you matter,” said Somers Superintendent Dr. Ray Blanch as he began a talk on skills for success. Dr. Blanch referenced a study showing a statistically significant correlation between district leadership and student achievement.
Dr. Blanch stressed the importance of having a mission, vision and values to guide your school district. “Without a vision, you get confusion,” Dr. Blanch said. “Putting the values out there is very important because when you have difficult conversations, you can point back to the values that the community agreed upon.”
Bedford Superintendent Dr. Christopher Manno spoke about how to prepare for the superintendency, touching upon the experiences, resume and interview skills that help pave the way, while Brewster Superintendent Dr. Valerie Henning-Piedmonte spoke about diversity in the superintendency.
Several newly appointed superintendents spoke about their experiences during a panel discussion. They were Carmel Superintendent Andy Irvin, Yorktown Superintendent Dr. Ronald Hattar and Katonah-Lewisboro Superintendent Andrew Selesnick.