Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education Opinion

EdWeek’s Leaders to Learn From

By Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers — February 24, 2013 3 min read

Education Week recently published its first report entitled Leaders to Learn From. In what will become an annual report, they highlight leaders from across the United States “who seized on creative but practical approaches to improving their school systems and put those ideas to work.” The report offers stories from 16 leaders who made changes in their schools that made a difference. Each of the 16 were nominated by those who knew their work and were willing to recognize those among us who can be our models.

Long-Standing Ties, Vision, and Sustainability
There was a common characteristic among the group. " ...most of them have long-standing ties to the communities they serve”. For those who had the opportunity to serve in one district over time, the advantages abound. The possibilities are greater for sustained trust, positive relationships, credibility, the accumulation of political capital, and an appreciated personal investment. The stories shared in this annual report underscore the value of consistent leadership.

This is particularly interesting. Those holding leadership positions have been in a revolving door in many districts. Yet, this new report confirms what we have known. Staying in one community over time has positive effects, especially for creative committed educators with a vision. In his research on community involvement, Putnam (1996) reported the following:
• people born between 1910 and 1940 are more involved in community affairs than those born more recently
• mobility has an affect on social engagement
• increased mobility of American society has reduced the frequency of social engagement

Another observation about the report was that all the leaders had a clear vision of how they wanted to improve their districts or areas of responsibility, and they followed through on it. Vision is central to a leader’s work. Most of us come to work with the idea that we can imagine an improved experience for our students and work to make that happen. Some have the good fortune of supportive boards and faculties who coalesce around a shared vision and work together to make it happen. What about those of us who are caught in the turnover cycle by our own choice or that of others? Will we ever be able to make the change we hoped for when we became leaders? Can we, too, create sustainable change and offer districts and buildings sustainable progress?

We don’t need anything to stay the same for too long. Our educational system has stayed the same for far too long! Things are changing much more quickly in the world today and we need to adapt. However, what is good about these successes is their unquestionable result - making things better for children. So, sustainability is judged by a two-fold criterion. Will the change or program be sustained beyond the years of the leader who brought it about? Will it be flexible enough to morph into its next form when the need arises with or without the present leadership?

The best a leader can do is work to distribute leadership, develop leaders within the organization and remember to keep sustainability in mind while leading and celebrating the change. With that in mind we salute the 16 leaders recognized by EdWeek. They represent all the others who come to work each and every day with a vision for improving the experiences of our students and hold, without distraction, to the task at hand. For those who aspire to similar success and find it elusive, a reminder from a Japanese proverb: Fall seven times, stand up eight.

Putnam, R. D. (1995). Tuning in, tuning out: The strange disappearance of social capital in America. PS, Political Science & Politics, 28(4), 664-664. Retrieved from

Engage with Ann and Jill on Twitter

The opinions expressed in Leadership 360 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read