Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

One Head-Many Hats: Expectations of a Rural Superintendent

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

One Head-Many Hats: Expectations of a Rural Superintendent

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the United States, even though the majority of students by numbers are educated in urban and suburban schools, the majority of schools by number of campuses are rural by definition--28,902 of 88,000 schools (Chen, 2010). In Colorado, 558 of the total number of school campuses out of 1,672 are defined as rural by the United States Department of Education, which is approximately one third. This classification of schools contains the largest number of campuses in Colorado (the other classifications being city, suburban, and town; (Chen, 2010). Therefore, many of Colorado's superintendents, by sheer numbers, serve rural Colorado schools. I have served as a rural superintendent in four public school districts in two states--Texas and Colorado over the past twenty one years. Therefore, because of my personal experience and interest and the fact that there are more rural superintendents by number than any other category, this study topic speaks to me and many others. I conducted a case study to see if a typical profile of a rural superintendent emerged in small and rural public school districts located in northeast Colorado that could help refine administrative preparation programs for those who would like to specialize in rural education.

The school normally provides most all of the recreational and social activities of any small, rural community and most communities fight to keep their local schools (Salinas, 2000). Almost all major activities in small rural communities take place at the school and, on any given night, the school is bustling with activities (Hadden, 2000). I propose that the expectations of a rural superintendent in small schools in northeast Colorado vary from expectations in larger and more urban school districts, and the purpose of my study was to further define those differences--if they emerged--for rural superintendents.

I will complete my twenty- first year as a Superintendent of a small, rural public school district on May 20, 2013. I have served in this capacity for four different school districts across two western states, the most recent of which is located in northeast Colorado. In my experience, I have worn many different "hats"--some of my choosing, some of the choosing of others (Jenkins, 2007). I have come to see the community in which I live as a large haberdashery containing various hats, chosen by the people of the community, which I am forced to wear during my tenure. Some of these hats are worn only occasionally, while others are worn every day. Some of these hats, I voluntarily put on my head, while others are forced upon my head by the community or events that take place.

I came to work early on March 29, 2011, for what I thought would be a typical day. It had been snowing lightly and the ground and pavement was covered with a few inches of heavy, wet snow. The halls were still empty as the first students had not yet arrived. The custodian opened the doors, and the first few teachers began to arrive. At this time of day, I organize my schedule, check my emails, and get a bit of paperwork finished. On my head was the hat of "manager," which I usually wear until the bell sounds, at which time I switch to the hats of "communicator" and "listener" and begin to tour the school talking to staff and students. About thirty minutes after I arrived, the town siren began wailing. Almost all rural communities have a siren that sounds whenever there is a need for first responders, whether it is for a fire, an automobile accident, or in some cases for a tornado. I dread hearing this sound at this time of day since many staff and students are on their way to school--including our three buses that pick up students who live in outlying areas of our school district. My worry began to subside since about fifteen minutes passed and no word of problems had arrived. Just as my mind began to ease, our principal came down the hall in a rush and told me that one of our buses had indeed been involved in a wreck. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.