People working in leadership positions in schools play pivotal roles in students’ education, whether directly or indirectly. As the face of school districts, superintendents’ decisions impact students’ academic and professional futures. These skills can be learned and developed through programs such as the online Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) – Superintendent program offered by Northwest Missouri State University.
For example, take The School Superintendents Association’s 2017 National Superintendent of the Year, Matthew Utterback from Washington State. The schools under his jurisdiction have a graduation rate of 83%, 14 points higher than five years prior. According to trustED, it is also one of the top state districts to have successfully remediated chronic absenteeism. Utterback’s secret to success and advice is to “work with our school leaders, our superintendents, to ensure that we’re building inclusive learning environments for each of our students. I don’t think there’s anything more important in our work than to honor a student’s history, their culture, their identity, and affirm who they are in our public school systems.” His approach to ensuring every student feels seen, welcomed, and cared for is one that younger superintendents have started using to great effect.
Giving Each Student the Tools They Need to Succeed
Even before the pandemic and the popularization of online classes, there was a growing trend of increasingly personalizing education, as people realized that is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach. The need for personalized learning is especially true for high schoolers, a group of students that, due to their proximity to adulthood, usually presents more challenges than others. The success or failure of high schoolers in achieving their professional goals is closely related to the school’s culture, and it’s superintendent’s job to ensure each student has the tools necessary to become accomplished young adults.
As mediators between the board of education and other leaders such as principals, curriculum coordinators and teachers, superintendents must thoughtfully and efficiently allocate resources to things that matter, such as new hires, materials and extracurricular activities. About the latter, Dr. Darrell G. Floyd points out in his article for the NFHS that “participation in high school activities has been shown to have a strong correlation to student success. Numerous studies have shown that students involved in these activities have better attendance rates, higher academic achievement and increased aspirations to continue their education beyond high school.” Not only are extracurriculars excellent for teenagers’ self-discovery and self-expression, but they also weigh more and more in college admissions processes. “It is the superintendent’s responsibility to educate school board members about the value of all afterschool activities,” writes Dr. Floyd. “That way, board members can (in conjunction with the superintendent) make better decisions about investing proper amounts of monies for these activities.”
How an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) Degree Can Help You Improve Students’ Lives
Understanding how to navigate student needs, allocate finances and manage resources are only a few of the challenges administrators face. When high school students aren’t thriving, it can reflect poorly on the district and its priorities. But it’s not always easy to know what is lacking, and, especially in the case of underfunded school districts, it is even harder to decide how to apply the budget. Knowing how to identify and resolve these issues, showing the strength to advocate for your beliefs and acting as a liaison between parties with different interests are essential qualities of an effective school superintendent. These skills can be learned and developed through programs such as the online Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) – Superintendent program offered by Northwest Missouri State University. An Ed.S. provides an essential foundation and the tools needed to succeed in this field and positively impact students’ lives.
Learn more about the Northwest Missouri State University online Ed.S. – Superintendent program.