You are an educator.


You have dedicated your career to promoting knowledge in young people. Perhaps you are currently a principal or school administrator. Now, you are considering the role of school district superintendent. A big step? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

Here are the best five reasons to become a superintendent:

REASON 1: INFLUENCE

The superintendent “sets the direction and tone” of the school district. By becoming a superintendent, you can direct real changes. If a curriculum or plan clearly isn’t beneficial, replace it with something better! You get the power to improve what is weak and build up what is working. If teachers feel neglected or the community has a negative attitude, you can develop trust and healthy communication. The positive tone set by the superintendent trickles down to school administrators, teachers, parents, and the community. Do you have ideas that could help your district excel?

Bonus: You can make your school district a desirable destination for high-quality teachers and staff. Especially in Wisconsin, where there is a decline in teachers and pay, developing a positive direction is key in attracting teachers.

REASON 2: CHALLENGES

Let’s be honest; a challenging work environment is not for everyone. Superintendents have to deal with unhappy people, budget restrictions, and naysayers. Sounds like a walk in the park, right? The challenges of a superintendent can be stressful. However, challenges are often an important ingredient of a fulfilling career. They force us to respond creatively and grow. Does helping the struggling student excel or successfully adapting to the tight budget give you a sense of fulfillment and pride? If yes, then you need challenges to thrive. For those who need more than a paycheck to be satisfied, becoming a superintendent is a great option.

Bonus: A tough job, like school superintendent, can lead to a healthier brain. Studies by the University of Leipzig in Germany have shown that those with challenging jobs (i.e. resolving conflicts, developing strategies, evaluating information, and analyzing data) have less cognitive and memory issues as they age.

REASON 3: JOB OUTLOOK

The baby boomers are retiring and enrollment of students is increasing. As the older generation retires, superintendent positions are opening up. Additionally, as the number of students in schools continues to grow, the need for new schools increases. With enough new schools opening, more superintendent positions will be created. School administration roles are projected to grow at an average rate of 6% from 2014 to 2024. This slow and steady rate of growth is a healthy sign for those considering becoming superintendents.

Bonus: The increase in pay certainly doesn’t hurt! In Wisconsin, school superintendents typically make $40,000-50,000 more than principals in the same district.

REASON 4: SERVANT LEADER

The most important contributor to a school’s success (besides teacher quality) is a strong leader. How many jobs have you had where the support (or lack thereof) of a boss, supervisor, or school superintendent had a significant impact on the employees? Most likely, your answer is “all of them.” As the superintendent, you will be the strong leader that insures principals and teachers have the resources to do their job. Inevitably, this means acting as a servant leader. You get to support and care for the needs of principals and teachers, so they in turn can focus on serving the students.

Bonus: If your principals and teachers understand that your goal is to serve their needs, you will have their support and respect in return. When challenges arise, your team will be able to rely on and defend each other.

REASON 5: THE KIDS

Ultimately, the best reason to become a school superintendent is the kids. Isn’t helping children learn the reason you became involved in education in the first place? Students will continue to be the most important reason for choosing your career, whether you are a principal, central-office administrator, or superintendent. Having a positive influence, overcoming challenges, and supporting your staff always comes back to the young people who need you. By becoming a superintendent, you are not simply caring for more children, you care for them in new ways. You get to improve the policies and curriculum that help young minds grow.

Bonus: Regardless of the impressive policies and procedures you implement, the kids in your schools are the legacy you leave behind. That is beautiful knowledge.

 

The top reasons for becoming a superintendent don’t include an easy job. However, they do include the power of positive influence, finding fulfillment in challenges, a good job market, and serving staff and students alike. If you want to make a difference in your school district, consider receiving your Superintendent Licensure through Concordia University. This online program can be completed in as little as 12 months. A big step? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

— Kali Thiel is director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

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