Alex Jardine, superintendent, South Bend, Indiana schools: "A school superintendent, these days, is just a custodian—cussed by half the community, toadyin' to the other half."
Under a sagging courthouse roof—
The superintendent sits:
The soup—a martyred man is he—
With temperamental fits:
The brain cells of his meager mind
Can never call it quits.
His hair gets thinner through the years—
His face a puzzled pan:
His eyes are wet—he thinks of debt:
He earns what'er he can:
But looks the world not in the face—
He owes most every man.
Week in week out from morn till night
They hear his bellows roar:
And teachers coming home from school
Peek in the open door:
They love to see him rant and rave
And stomp upon the floor—
While on his duties soar!
Each morning sees ten tasks begun—
Each evening sees ten more;
Plenty attempted—little done—
Night has no sleep in store.
He goes on Sunday to the church and sits
Far in the back;
He does not hear the parson preach,
His thoughts are off the track;
They leap from tests to taxes
And span the Zodiac!
Fie—fie on thee—relentless fate—
For lessons too late learned;
It's at this flaming forge of life—
That fingers soon get burned;
And by the smoke and sweat and tears—
The mind of man is turned.
So for such jobs as village smith—
The soup for long has yearned.—Winston Brown
Have you ever stood at the seashore and watched the surf rushing up on the shore and then going out again? And do you remember how the ebb and flow of water washed the grains of sand from underneath your feet? Well, then, it may have occurred to you that being a superintendent is like that. Increasing enrollments, building programs, heightened citizen interest in school problems can wash away the ground you stand on.
Unless you stay alert to new developments in economics, sociology, and education, you may find yourself on the toboggan—and you can't leave your footprints on the sands of time sitting down.—M. Dale Baughman
I cannot say that I was one of the popular men in my community, but I enjoyed a measure of respect from those whom I served. This is my story at the mid-century point of my life, after bearing the burden of chief school administrator at Carmel Ridge, three years, Fruitdale, six years, Jackson Central, six years, and Lake Park, four years. Actually, I was rather well liked in all of those communities, especially by my fellow members of Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis.
For one thing there were always one or two Board Members who wouldn't seem to agree with my ideas about education. Oh, yes, the majority usually went along with me, that is until I fought the battle of Lake Park. It was there that my followers on the Board were finally outnumbered by younger men with fresh, new ideas. They seemed to think that Lake Park needed a younger man, one with more imagination and a more experimental attitude.
With a few exceptions, most of my teachers usually liked me and tried to cooperate with my policies and projects; but there was always sure to be a few with influence on key community members and certain board members who stalled my progress and thwarted my plans. One time a custodian wrote my swan song. It's hard to believe, as I think back, that I failed so many times to make the proper decisions. I can talk well, I write clearly and forcefully—yes, I was no loafer. My work days were long and well planned.
In my first two jobs I was eager and optimistic. My job was my life, almost. Confidence and hope filled me. During study for my Master's Degree I had taken two course in school administration and they provided a basis for a start in school administration. Somehow, as I progressed to better and bigger schools, my task became more complex and more overwhelming.
I don't seem to be very good in community sociology. Around every corner there seemed to be problems which I couldn't solve—problems involving power structure and pressure groups. My administration courses didn't tell me how to handle these. They didn't tell me how to study community organizations and groups. OH! Yes, they talked about leadership behavior but I never was able to tell when to use that principle.
I'm not good in economics or finance either. Of course I bluffed a little here and there and picked up some knowledge about such things. It was at Lake Park that we had to build and build and build . . . I struggled through the whole mess somehow with help from the State University and the State Department and my name is on the recognition plate in the foyer of the new high school building.
Well, what next? Who wants a superintendent of two score and ten years? I've always had the reputation of "running a pretty smooth school" but nowadays that isn't a complimentary statement. Today, it seems that everybody's slogan is "there's always a better way." Maybe I can land a smaller superintendency something like Fruitdale, my second job. For that matter I'm tired, and teaching jobs are plentiful. I have 30 hours in math and I taught it at Carmel Ridge while serving as superintendent. Perhaps I would be wise to withdraw from the firing line to the relative safety and calm of the classroom.—M. Dale Baughman, The Clearing House
The short and unhappy life of many superintendents—or they only have "ize" for you:
First year: EUGOLIZED
Second year: criticized
Third year: OSTRACIZED
Fourth year: RUBBERIZED (bounced)—Earl Wiltse, Educator's Dispatch