Leadership Lite
School Administrator, June 2020

Secrets on Public Display

Superintendent Patrick Anderson drew autobiographically on his own family dynamic and his experiences as an educator to write the script of a stage play titled “School Secrets” based on a book he had published.

When the production appeared at the Alton Little Theater in Alton, Ill., not far from the Wood River-Hartford school district that he leads, the show included a playlist of pop tunes, such as “Principal’s Office” by Young MC, “Education Song” by Bruno Mars and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Said Anderson of his experience: “I remember a fellow playwright asking me if I was nervous about the production. I said I was a little nervous. He told me I should be a whole lot nervous because 90 percent of the people who bought my book didn’t read it, but 100 percent of the people watching the play will watch it! … Then I got nervous.”

Nick’s Cannonball Express

Growing impatient by delays in taking occupancy of a $55 million addition to East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Ill., superintendent Nick Polyak added a little suspense to the long-anticipated opening. Polyak started telling everyone around him that once the new swimming pool was open for use, he would be the first one in.

He made it a special moment, wearing a full business suit with a tie for a dive off the board. (He considered it an old suit and threw it out afterward.)

The moment was captured on video by four school faculty members — who along with Polyak had just finished their weekly before-school basketball game in the school gym.

Upon surfacing, Polyak declared the new pool “open for business as of tomorrow!

Goats 2, Weeds 0

Thick vegetation covered the steep hillside terrain adjacent to the sports stadium in the Norwin School District in North Hunting-don, Pa., making access by maintenance staff and lawn mowers somewhat treacherous.

So the Norwin leadership contracted with Nuisance Wildlife Solutions to bring in a herd of goats to handle the job. A few weeks of overgrown weed consumption also was expected to resolve a second nuisance to the school system — groundhogs making residence near Norwin Knights Stadium.

Norwin superintendent Jeff Taylor scored a double victory off the playing field. The distinctive method of landscape maintenance was both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
Short, humorous anecdotes, quips, quotations and malapropisms for this column relating to school district administration should be addressed to: Editor, School Administrator, 1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Fax: 703-841-1543. E-mail: magazine@aasa.org. Upon request, names may be withheld in print.