Since my local school district has been looking for a new superintendent, I’ve been doing some reading and thinking about the process. In the last few weeks, I’ve written several posts¹ about various facets of the process, with particular emphasis on its public relations aspects.
I deliberately avoided discussing the role of students in the process for two reasons.
First, although students are certainly impacted by the work of a superintendent, they typically don’t know much about what the superintendent does or how she does it.
Second, students probably have even less information about the laws governing hiring than adults, who typically have little.
Those two considerations render students’ input into selecting the best candidate of little value.
That said, however, students could be very useful in other ways that also provide them with genuine learning opportunities.
Learn and share: 3 potential activities
I hate having students do a project that accomplishes only one objective, so I’ll suggest three ways that students could
- learn some communications skills
- while learning some other content, and
- providing a community service.
First idea. Students could research facets of employment law to develop informational materials for the adult stake holders to use. Depending on their topics, the research could be in print and digital sources or it could be interviews with specialists in human resources and labor law.
Students’ findings could be presented as audio, video, infographics, blog posts, printed pages, etc.
Second idea. Another potentially useful activity would be the development of information to help candidates get a feel for the school culture.
A 3-minute video about the music program that includes interviews with current and former students, community supporters, and parents would help candidates understand the importance of music in the district, for example.
An infographic about the district, perhaps one on its demographics or one focused on what students do after high school graduation, could be useful not only to candidates but also to a school board attempting to educate its community.
Third idea. A third potentially useful activity would be the development of information to help newcomers get acquainted with the community. People who have lived all their lives in a community often are oblivious to the kinds of information newcomers, like a new school superintendent’s family, would find useful.
Again students would have a host of options available for presenting their information.
Each of these kinds of activities requires critical thinking, learning, and communicating on real topics for real people in the real world.
¹Other posts on hiring a school superintendent
Due diligence: Resources for schools hiring a superintendent
The superintendent search: A PR perspective (7-part series)
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Identify stakeholders
- Part 3: Set stage for stakeholder participation
- Part 4: Prepare the invitation to apply and give potential interviewers resources
- Part 5: Keep good interview records
- Part 6: Check references following interviews
- Part 7: Explain your choice & archive paperwork