Superintendent's Column - Good Questions

Undoubtedly, many are aware of three implicit questions that Lou Holtz, former football coach – retired now and in the College Football Hall of Fame – said every player has about a coach, and that every coach has about his or her players.

In the midst of current realities as a nation and in the enterprise of education – nationally, statewide and locally – now might be an opportune time to consider each of them.

Can I trust you?

In both good times and those more challenging, what matters most are the relationships we have with one another. Genuine relationships built on trust, day in and day out, that are forged on a foundation of giving the best of ourselves to and for one another. Mutuality.

Though we may have different roles, perspectives, or perhaps find ourselves on different sides of particular issues, we should have the backs of each other – importantly of our students and their families, but also of our colleagues – even those whose roles and responsibilities may be different than our own. On any team, whether coach or player, is it not about each other and the us, together, rather than about the individual?

Are you committed?

The question is at once simple and complex. Assuredly, commitment means having high expectations, working hard, doing one’s best. Yet not for ourselves, but doing so for those we serve, and jointly with those with whom we serve.

It can be all too easily seen and felt when anyone is engaged more for themselves or for just a few, than when their commitment is indeed to something larger, and greater…when their commitment is to the whole.

And when this is the case both when times are easy and positive, and when they are not. As I once heard football legend John Brodie say, “it is oftentimes when things are not going well that you can truly see the best in people.”

Do you care about me?

As in, do we care about others for who they are, not merely what they are? The kids in our districts, schools and programs are more than students and learners. The adults are more than their job roles. We are each uniquely human, with our own hopes, dreams, abilities, joys and frustrations.

To achieve real and enduring “success,” requires that we truly come to know and care about one another as individuals. It requires that we respect whatever differences – in role, background, perspective – that might exist and sincerely treat one another with abiding respect. That we strive for the “win-wins,” rather than someone wins while others don’t.

If those we serve or those with whom or for whom we work asked these good questions about any of us, what would their answers be? Whatever our perspective as a citizen or employee, whatever our role in our respective organizations, do others perceive us as in it for ourselves, or that we strive for one another and a greater good?

There are some people, some forces, and some external pressures that would prefer to sow seeds of deeper division. It seems to me that when we keep these three questions front of mind – for ourselves and each other – common ground is more easily found and ultimate success more likely achieved. That we unite through the best of who we are and should always want to be.

Michael Dunn, Superintendent