I was recently talking to an old acquaintance who came of age around the same time I did. We were talking about how lucky we were. We were both up and coming administrators in one of the golden ages of Texas Education. We both worked for superintendents in the Houston area in the mid to late 90’s. What we thought was normal operating procedures was a cosmic aligning of the stars in education leadership.
We grew up in an environment of massive egos and intellects that trusted each other and shared ideas and solutions freely. Was there competition, absolutely. But we were all pushing each other to find solutions to problems that were being pushed under the rug in other areas of the state and country. This group of Superintendents and critical key players were pushing their people to solve finance issues, special ed issues, discipline issues, drop out issues, literacy issues, and accountability issues – all at the same time. With this group, solutions were the focus of the work, not who got the credit or the biggest piece of the pie.
Here’s one example of this I remember fondly and still laugh at. My team was working on a significant and sensitive problem. We hit a wall and the information we needed was in another district. I told the Superintendent who needed the answer that we were stuck and couldn’t get him what he needed. His answer, “I’ll have what you need tomorrow morning by 10:00.”
When I aksed how, he said, “Simple, I’m going to go to his house and have breakfast with that superintendent at 6:00 in the morning.”
True to his word, we had what we needed the next day.
So who were the major players at that time? Here is the short list, with apologies to anyone I missed: Dr. Rod Paige, Dr. Shirley Neeley, Sonny Donaldson, Bob Brezina, Rick Berry, Dr. John Sawyer, Dr. Leonard Merrill, Dr. Hal Guthrie, Dr. Jerry Roy, Dr. John Folkes, Dr. John Wilson, Dr. Don Hooper, Wayne Schaper and Dr. Richard Hooker.
I can’t tell you how much I miss the old timers at times. You can not believe the number of self inflicted problems that I am tasked to solve that never would have occurred under their watch.
Think. Work. Achieve.