The Superintendent’s job is the greatest job in the world. It may also be one of the most stressful. Even though we are just coming off of summer, when was the last time you really took a moment to reflect on why you do what you do? Why you started doing it in the first place? And, if you will continue to do it in the future?
Welcome to a new and exciting school year. It is hard to believe many districts have already kicked off the 2017-18 school year while others are within days. I am always ready for the start of the summer after celebrating the successes of our students and watching our graduates receive their hard earned diplomas. However, I still get excited to see all of our employees and students back in our schools. Across Indiana, our students, teachers, and administrators have spent many summer hours participating in opportunities to learn more and become more effective. We are blessed to have these men and women in our offices and our classrooms making a positive impact on our children.
This past June, I was honored and humbled to be selected by the members of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents to serve as President during the 2017-18 school year. It is a huge responsibility that I look forward to and accept. I deeply appreciate the leadership of IAPSS Past-President, Dr. Jeff Hendrix, during the 2016-17 school year and the continued leadership of Dr. J.T. Coopman, IAPSS Executive Director.
Like you, I am only able to accept this responsibility because of the support of my amazing Board of Education and Superintendent’s Cabinet. Further, the 2017-18 IAPSS Executive Board includes dedicated professionals who represent the position of Superintendent with great distinction and will push me to be my best. Without their hard work and support, I would not be able to take on this role.
A very heartfelt thank you to all of the Superintendents and IAPSS Partners who were able to join me at the installation ceremony. During the ceremony, I was able to share some personal experiences that I hope you will also find worthwhile and have included in the next several paragraphs.
I have worked very hard to perfect mind over matter. It has long been a belief of mine that failure is most often related to a lack of mental toughness and intestinal fortitude. However, this past spring, I had one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
In late March, my body rebelled and I could no longer will my body into finishing a workout. In fact, it resulted in a 6-night stay in the hospital. During that week, and the one that followed, I asked myself three questions. And while they started with a focus on my physical activity, they expanded into my personal and professional life.
1. Why do I do what I do?
2. Why did I start doing it in the first place?
3. Am I going to continue to do it in the future?
In the M.S.D. of Wayne Township, I am able to physically see, each and every day, and I do mean EVERY day, that I have made a positive difference in someone’s life. What greater job could there possibly be in this world? That is why I do what I do!
And that is also why I decided in Mr. Tom Smith’s algebra 2 class, at Naples High School, that I was going to be a Superintendent. It was Mr. Smith that inspired me and showed me that great teaching is truly a gift. He showed me how powerful pedagogy is and why relationships matter. That’s right, I didn’t decide in high school that I wanted to be a teacher. I decided I wanted to be a Superintendent. That is why I started doing it in the first place.
At Opening Day on July 25, 2017, over 2,300 employees filled the Ben Davis High School gym with their “I CHOOSE Wayne” shirts on while hearing the impassioned message from 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year from the Tippecanoe School Corporation, Kathy Nimmer. And two days later, 16,500 scholars, over 800 of whom do not live in our boundaries, CHOSE to return to our classrooms. They met their teachers and were ready to be challenged with the lessons our teachers would provide over the next 182 instructional days. Our Board of Education, employees, students, parents, and community challenge me each and every day to be a better leader, to be a better servant, to make a greater difference, and to be the best me. How could I not continue to do this into the future?
It will come as no surprise that I will seek to engage every Superintendent in Indiana to make a greater impact on public education this year. I am convinced that ESSA provides each of us with an opportunity we will not likely see again in our career. The draft plan has been on the IDOE website since June 30 and must be submitted to the USDOE for consideration by September 18. I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the plan and provide any feedback you have to the IDOE.
And, I challenge each one of us to work together to take down the walls that have so masterfully been built to quiet our collective voice by separating our districts based on demographic make-up. While we may have communities that look different, we ALL educate Indiana’s children. And no child is more or less than any other child throughout our state. They deserve the very best we have to offer, and collectively we can offer more than we can divided. That is what I believe makes my IAPSS membership so important.
Thank you for all you do for your own communities and the service you provide to your district as their Superintendent. It is a critically important role with great responsibilities. Thank you, as well, for allowing me the opportunity to serve in the role of IAPSS President this year. I will do so in true “Butts” fashion. I hope the 2017-18 school year is your best yet!!
Jeffrey K. Butts, Ph.D., M.S.D. of Wayne Township Superintendent