MASA Feature Superintendents Share What Inspires Them By Mitch Smith What truly inspires and motivates your work? What drives you to keep charging ahead despite the enormous challenges faced in public educa-tion? Inspiration can be found everywhere, if you look deeply and closely enough. You may find inspiration in your favorite author or on a morning walk. It will be found in whatever fills you with a sense of purpose and motivates you to achieve. Often, it helps to talk with others in your profession. Listening to colleagues to tap ideas about what gives them inspiration can help you discover new things about yourself, and to help you thrive in your work. MASA asked superintendents to share with the entire public education community what inspires them. They have stepped up to tell their stories, often finding the right turn of phrase, or the important example from their district to describe and share that inspiration. The following superintendent quotes could be considered as posts on a creative inspiration board provided by colleagues across the state—educators who passion-ately believe in the benefits of public education. Here’s what seven Michigan superinten-dents had to say about what inspires them: David Richards, Ph.D. Fraser Public Schools “What inspires me as a leader is having the opportunity to rethink and to truly influence our communities around the 14 MASA LEADER • Spring 2016 opportunities to redesign our school districts to better meet the needs of our students. We have the opportunity each and every day to constantly be looking at practices, thinking about what students need today, and adjusting to meet those needs. That’s what inspires me.” Daveda J. Colbert, Ph.D. Oak Park School District “What inspires me as a superintendent is knowing that I am truly making a differ-ence in the lives of others. Doing what is best for students is key for me. Education is key; it’s foundational; and without it, children are limited. We must make sure all students have options and opportunities.” John Prescott Bellevue Community Schools “Being a superintendent means being the educational district leader who is educating our future. The children are so important to me that I get goosebumps when I talk about them—it’s that important.” Thomas Parker Ecorse Public Schools “Winning for my children is what inspires me. In a time of change, it’s the responsi-bility of every administrator to ensure that we keep our focus on children and make the mountains move out of the way of kids who need the opportunity to win.” Dr. Steve Matthews Novi Community Schools “What inspires me is creating good learning spaces for students. I want kids to be excited about coming to school. I want kids to feel they have advocates at school who care about them and want them to be successful. My job is to create that atmosphere and environment so kids believe good things happen at school.” Yvonne Caamal Canul Lansing School District “I’m inspired every single day by the fact that I have the greatest job in the world. I get to be the inspirational and instructional leader of a district with wonderful children and families in a great community.” Lynda Wood, Ed.D. Southfield Public Schools “Every day what inspires me is the reality that there are children who are looking to me and our staff, as their advocates. Children depend on us to make the right choices and decisions to ensure we are doing all we can to make their future be bright and successful so they are well prepared for what lies ahead.” It is often your work that inspires and gives a sense of purpose. You might not wake up every morning inspired, but if you are passionate about Michigan’s public schools, and its kids, you will find the inspiration to do great things. See more video examples of Michigan’s superintendents sharing what inspires them on the MASA Vimeo channel at https://vimeo.com/gomasa. Mitch Smith is a Communication Specialist with MASA. Contact him at 517.327.5910 or email@example.com.
MASA Leader - Sprin 2016
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