I am honored to be the new superintendent of the Merrillville Community School Corporation, and to partner with our students, educators, families, and community to ensure we meet the district’s mission - The Merrillville Community School Corporation develops in students, skills for independent learning, responsible citizenship, and productive employment; and it provides the community with educational, vocational, and recreational resources.
I am deeply committed to this mission and excited to learn more about how our mission is being implemented in Merrillville schools. To accomplish this, I have developed a 90-day entry plan. As your new superintendent, I am committed to learning as much about our students’ experience at Merrillville schools as quickly as possible. Merrillville has achieved success on many levels. I want to build upon the strong legacy that the school district and community have established for our students. My entry plan and my work as superintendent will be guided by a tenet put forth by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He says that leaders must “first seek to understand, then to be understood.” The transition activities outlined in this plan are designed to enable me to quickly and effectively listen to and learn from a wide range of people involved directly and indirectly in public education.
I want to learn as much as possible about what is working for our students and where there are areas for growth. I also want to hear how we can better prepare and support our teachers, administrators, staff and parents for the critical roles they play in each student’s life.
I look forward to this opportunity to listen, learn, and partner with you. Together, we can increase educational opportunities for all Merrillville students to be successful.
My vision for the Merrillville Community School Corporation is to be a student-centered, highly-
effective educational environment where everyone focuses on excellence and where respect,
fairness, transparency, confidentiality, and shared governance are a part of every aspect of the
I believe everyone should be treated with respect. An organization develops its reputation by
how it demonstrates respect for all stakeholders. Staff, parents, and students are the most
important part of each and every aspect of what we do as a school district. Thousands of
interactions occur daily within the district. Even in the most difficult interaction, we will always
display respect with all involved.
Fairness is my guiding decision-making principle. Truly, it’s a social justice issue. At our core, we
simply want everyone to be treated fairly. In every decision I make, I will ask others and myself
if the decision is consistent with basic standards of fairness.
Fairness often begins with a transparent, well-described process for making a decision or
resolving an issue — a process that everyone can understand. Some decisions themselves may
be unexpected, but there should be no surprises about how decisions get made, and everyone
in our community deserves to understand why decisions are made in a particular way.
I don’t believe in secrets. I do believe very strongly in honoring commitments to confidentiality.
Keeping secrets means not revealing information that should be public. Respecting
confidentiality means keeping personal information — such as an individual’s personnel
records, medical records, and other privileged information — private. Indeed, there is much
information that cannot be divulged by law or by policy. So while our decision-making process
needs to be transparent, I won’t violate anyone’s confidentiality for any reason. As a leader, a
teacher, and an educational researcher I know how essential it is to respect everyone’s privacy.
We will practice shared governance at Merrillville Community Schools— many different groups
have input into most of our decisions: students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and the larger
school community. The great advantage of shared governance is that it promotes the inclusion
of a rich body of perspectives into decisions. This broad input can greatly improve decisions
which are made, but there still needs to be a person or group who ultimately make the final
decisions. Shared governance is not easy, and what it means is often misunderstood. Shared
governance does not mean that decisions are ultimately made by popular vote — no complex
organization can run that way. I see a large part of my job as taking in and thinking about a wide range of perspectives on important school decisions. It means that a big part of my job is to listen to understand. We must always make the best decision we can for our students. I hope that everyone in our community will feel that he or she understands the final decision and its reasons and, perhaps most importantly, has had an opportunity to participate in the process.
Finally, I believe that good leaders have high expectations for themselves and for those they
serve. I hold those I serve and myself to the following eleven expectations:
1. Be Child-Centered
2. Be Professional
3. Be Enthusiastic
4. Be Visible
5. Be Collaborative
6. Be a Communicator
7. Be Forgiving
8. Be Positive
9. Be Proactive
10. Be a Positive Role Model
11. Be Organized
The following are goals for the entry plan:
Goal 1: Develop Positive Board/Superintendent Relations
“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships”.
- Anthony Robbins
Goal 2: Interview Key Stakeholders
“You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be “
Goal 3: Review Current Data and Evaluate Programs
“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information”
Goal 4: Review of Student Achievement and Programs
“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results”
Goal 5: Review of Technology, Operations, and Support Functions
“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question”
Goal 6: Balance Family and Work Activities
“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
To reach these goals, I will do the following:
Listen to Understand— Spend time with students, teachers, parents, principals, school district administrators and other Merrillville employees, community and business members, and state and local leaders, to understand about our proudest accomplishments and greatest challenges.
Learn to Inform Decisions— Analyze and study performance data and other student achievement data. Read and review existing district policies, improvement plans, pertinent documents and strive to understand our efforts to meet student needs.
Share to Build Trust and Transparency and a Positive Tone— Celebrate the wonderful accomplishments at Merrillville Community Schools with the community regularly to build a deeper understanding of the quality programs provided. Introduce myself and my educational philosophy and core beliefs to the community.
Build Strong Relationships— Establish strong working relationships and build rapport with the Board of Education, Merrillville leadership, employees, teacher leadership, teachers, parents and community, state and local leaders.
Plan for Success— Review the current strategic plan and review specific action steps taken to meet our goals for students. Continue to use the strategic plan and make any needed changes to our efforts. Collaborate with all stakeholders to maintain and develop world-class programs for all students.