They are among the most influential and recognizable people in public school systems, but superintendents’ jobs are also among the least studied and understood positions in the education field.
Superintendents are at the helm of—and often the face of—local districts, and they are tasked with implementing policies that guide instruction, discipline, safety, and more. Superintendents are generally the highest-paid employees in their districts, a perennial topic of debate, and their jobs have recently come into the spotlight as political debates about how race and LGBTQ issues are taught in schools have taken center stage.
Their vision for schools shape students’ educational experiences, staff members’ working conditions, and the community’s relationship with the district and level of confidence in the work it’s doing.
But concrete data about the people leading the nation’s more than 13,000 public school districts has traditionally been lacking, and many would be hard pressed to explain these important jobs.
So, Education Week asked eight superintendents to describe their jobs in two sentences or less. Their responses are below and have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
—Deron Stender | Creston, Iowa
—Heidi Sipe | Umatilla, Ore.
—Martha Salazar-Zamora | Tomball, Texas
—Corrina L. Guardipee-Hall | Browning, Mont.
—Lee Ann Wentzel | Folsom, Pa.
—Tobin Novasio | Hardin, Mont.
—David Law | Minnetonka, Minn.
—Heather Perry | Gorham, Maine