It’s pretty apparent this blog is one that has been neglected for quite some time. The truth is the past year, there is quite a bit that has been neglected more than it should have been. Today marks the official completion of my first year as a school district superintendent. Like many people, when you come to the close of year reflecting on the previous year is just something that comes natural to many of us.
The first year of Superintendency has been coupled with many other things going on in our lives that have really made it a whirlwind year. Looking back on it, the adjustment itself was perhaps more than I thought it may be, but throw in some extra adjustments, and this year has definitely taken a toll and also could have definitely been done better.
First of all it’s the change of mindset with the change of position. You see, I’ve had to adjust to the fact that the to do list contains more than can ever really be done and the items appear to get added much quicker than can be checked off as done. This includes the list both at work and at home (and additional community groups as well if I’m really going to be honest). There is the list of essentials that NEED to be done to keep things going, the things that would really be NICE to get done and make life easier or better, and the list of DREAMS to get done that would take the district, organization or home to the next level. The first list gets done one way or another, the second list occasionally gets some items taken care of, and then the third is often lucky if it gets reviewed from time to time. I keep hoping after this first adjustment year perhaps I’ll get more efficient and that will change.
I guess looking back on it, it’s been a crazy year in many facets of our life. On the personal front, Jody had a professional change this year as well when she started teaching at the community college level. Carl Sandburg is lucky to have her and she is really enjoying the new direction her path has taken her. Rob spent the past year as State FFA Vice-President which meant lots of travel and even on non-travel days he was working in the office in Springfield. I can definitely say the family is ready to have him home more regularly than the weekends. Tom and Jac have made the transition to driving and quite honestly that has just made their schedules more hectic. They both enjoy many activities and have spent a considerable amount of time raising funds through cooking and odd jobs to support their mission passion. Ben has been making huge strides and is continuing to improve on his piano skills. Ali seems to have followed in step with the “Big 3” in having many interests and starting to create a hectic schedule for herself as well.
On the professional front, it’s also been a crazy year. Early on in the year someone pointed out that the superintendent position has become much more political than it ever has been. I’ve spent perhaps more time than I would admit in contact with legislators and others in Springfield to lobby for what is best for our little downstate district. This becomes a difficult challenge as the issues we face are often very different from those of the larger urban districts. I’ve learned laws and rules are often created with little regard how this effects the different sizes and types of school districts found in the state of Illinois. There have been more challenges than I can remember to get things on track, keep them on track, and try to move toward becoming a district that can better serve our students and community. I also spent some time working on a Governor’s Task Force to try and address the shortage of Agriculture Teachers in the State of Illinois. We currently face our own local challenges of teacher shortages with positions we are struggling to fill and minimal or no qualified candidates.
In looking back on the past year, it is apparent there are definitely some items I would like to try and improve over the next year:
*improve organization – although appearances are often deceiving, I am a pretty organized person and chaos somewhat bothers me. Although space often seems chaotic, it’s more organized than most realize. However, getting more organized in the ever growing list of to-dos is an on-going challenge.
*improve frequency of blogging on both the professional and personal blogs. Part of that challenge is realizing there are people that like to read what I write (I think anyway) and coming up with good topics.
*make more time for me – including getting back to my running routines (I physically and mentally felt so much better when I made the time for this on a regular basis), focusing more time on family and things around home (these kids of ours are growing up so fast). It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work things that I don’t spend near enough time for my family and even myself. Sometimes like today I just need to force myself to take some me time and rest a bit which is often difficult for me.
*dissertation – it’s the only thing standing between me and a EdD degree which will finally bring my personal education to a close just as our “Big 3” ramp theirs up with Rob attending Western Illinois University in the fall and Tom and Jac starting dual credit this fall. It’s time for me to be done so we can focus more on supporting them in their venture.
*cattle – as many of you know, pretty much the only personal hobby I have not abandoned is cattle. I really enjoy spending time with them, the purchasing, the showing, the selling and quite frankly everything about the operation. It’s been a long time dream of mine and now we try and make the transition from just a small little hobby to a little more. It will likely be many years until we get things where I’ve always dreamed they would be, but we are making steps in that direction and Jo and the “Big 3” are a huge help in heading that way.
So many challenges and so many things I’d like to do better for this upcoming year. I guess that’s called life. Make it a great day!