Becoming a Mindful Superintendent in a “Turnaround” District


Superintendents face numerous challenges navigating the turbulence within districts created by employee turnover that follows implementation of turnaround policies. Literature on educational policy, the superintendency, and resilience calls for researchers to examine how mindfulness supports leadership for improving instructional services to increase student achievement while balancing multiple problems that attend heightened instability and decreased satisfaction of school personnel. Over a two-year period of study, observations, interviews, and artifacts were gathered and analyzed to describe the experience of a new superintendent who led the turnaround process in a small urban district. Balancing the various demands that attend leading a turnaround district is no small feat and includes responsibilities related to: building relationships with the school board, district staff, and community; hiring and firing of cabinet members, campus level administrators, and teachers; revamping instructional and evaluation practices, while seeking to build trust with stakeholders; bringing predictability and voice in district governance. High stakes accountability may be a tool for change, but it is mindfully serving students and families that nurtures resilience.

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Coogan, N. , Gates, G. and McDonald, T. (2015) Becoming a Mindful Superintendent in a “Turnaround” District. Open Journal of Leadership, 4, 102-115. doi: 10.4236/ojl.2015.43010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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