To Serve First
It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve as your President of IAPSS for the 2016-2017 school year. It can be quite humbling to know that over two hundred of my peers have elected me to represent them in this important role at this challenging time to be a leader in K-12 Public Education in Indiana. The responsibilities are great, but I am so very fortunate to have an outstanding executive committee of bright and capable superintendents to provide much wisdom, guidance and support as we move forward as an organization. It also goes without writing that we also have an executive director, Dr. J.T. Coopman, who provides strong leadership to our organization. Most importantly, I have each of you. Why is that so important? It is your leadership as a superintendent whose voice for our children in the State of Indiana will have the biggest impact on public education.
As we look forward to the work that we must do this school year, I want to ask that we all think about becoming more involved in this great organization of IAPSS. It is your organization. There will be many opportunities for superintendents to provide leadership, attend conferences and professional development, and make your voice heard to legislators on the issues that truly impact our students in K-12 public education in Indiana.
In my remarks at the Installation Ceremony in Munster this past June, I referenced my personal belief that we all have the capabilities to be servant leaders. I said:
If you are not familiar with the term servant leader, let me share some information from the website To Serve First describing what a servant leader is:
In 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf defined the servant-leader as follows:
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”
“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”
Greenleaf said that “the servant-leader is servant first.” By that he meant that that the desire to serve, the “servant’s heart,” is a fundamental characteristic of a servant-leader. It is not about being servile; it is about wanting to help others. It is about identifying and meeting the needs of colleagues, customers, and communities. (http://toservefirst.com/definition-of-servant-leadership.html)
If our IAPSS organization is to continue to be a strong voice for Indiana K-12 public education, then it can when we step forward and are willing as superintendents to serve first. I hope that you will find some time this year to participate in your IAPSS organization. I am asking you to please step up and be a leader, by serving first. I look forward to seeing you at our conferences this year or at the Indiana State House. I hope that you all have a great school year. Please contact me if I can help serve you at email@example.com.
President, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents