Preventing Leadership Churn

By Brian A. Sheehan

As an aspiring district leader in Massachusetts, I recently started researching the position of the superintendent. After an initial investigation into the challenges of district leadership, I was overwhelmed by the high number of superintendents who were voluntarily leaving their positions. I wondered: What factors led to their decisions to leave the top post?

To find out, I spent a year interviewing 200 Massachusetts superintendents. The majority of the responses I collected were easily grouped into three categories: the demanding nature of the job, an aging superintendent population, and relationships with school board members. I am sharing these opinions with you, school leaders charged with hiring and working alongside superintendents. I also offer some suggestions that I hope can improve the working conditions for people serving in this demanding role.

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