Listen, Learn, Lead

K12 Insight CEO Suhail Farooqui discusses how school leaders can build deep reserves of community trust.

A recent Washington Post article titled “Lessons from four top schools superintendents” recaps an enlightening panel discussion featuring the four finalists for AASA’s 2015 Superintendent of the Year.

The finalists are Philip Lanoue, Superintendent of Clarke County School District; MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools; Patrick Murphy, Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools and Patrice Pujol, Superintendent of Ascension Public Schools.

During the wide-ranging conversation, the superintendents discussed the challenges they faced in their respective districts. Despite tackling different issues, such as budget cuts, new teacher evaluation methods and poor student achievement, each superintendent told how a commitment to stronger communication and engagement played a critical role in helping them find a solution their communities could support.

In fact, their path to success closely followed our motto of “Listen, Learn, Lead.”

K12 Insight understands how important it is for school leaders to have robust relationships with parents, teachers, staff, students and the public. Our diverse team of researchers, analysts, communications professionals and product specialists works with our partners to design and implement a comprehensive engagement strategy that empowers districts to communicate with clarity and purpose.

In the article, AASA’s Executive Director Dan Domenech said his organization is looking for courageous individuals willing to risk their careers to do what is in the best interest of students. Risk-taking is a quality our company values. But if some of the unnecessary risks were mitigated, wouldn’t superintendents be in a better position to lead on the big issues?

Shouldn’t school leaders be empowered to make decisions with the support of an informed and involved community? A united community?

By facilitating a return to the time-honored value of excellent customer service, K12 Insight helps superintendents minimize the risks of taking decisive and necessary actions because they’ve earned the trust of their districts.

The power of developing and nurturing relationships, of giving a voice to the voiceless, is reflected in the anecdotes shared by the superintendents during the panel.

In particular, Superintendent Lanoue discussed how he made a concerted effort to ask for public feedback about the tough budget cuts his district had to make during the height of the recession. Lanoue’s willingness to listen and respond to the marginalized voices in his community ultimately led to greater support for his decision-making and better classroom performance.

To not only survive the myriad challenges facing our education system, but to also make the transformative changes necessary to improve public schools, superintendents must have the backing of their districts. And we are committed to partnering with any school leader who wants a better way to gain community trust, lead with confidence and advance public education for all students.


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