Superintendents Learning & Leading Together


by Karen K. Garza, PhD

Every month, we host a network of 30 innovative district superintendents in Ohio who come together to collaborate around how to accelerate deeper 21st century learning experiences for every student and transform the way we prepare today’s youth to thrive. Listening to these visionary leaders, watching them, learning with them, and being inspired by them is such a privilege. 

Shared Hopes & Dreams
Within the first few moments of our recent kickoff convening, I was encouraged—not only for this network, but for the future of education—by the shared hopes and dreams of these leaders:

“Our country needs deeper learning. Our kids’ futures depend on it. Everybody wants change, but few people want to change. I’m excited to work with courageous school leaders to chart our path going forward.” – Mario Basora, Superintendent, Huber Heights City Schools  

“We’ve invested a lot of time thinking about our kindergartners and their futures. I am excited to work with, and learn with, other superintendents who also want to make the right changes that benefit every student, every graduate.” – Scott Dutey, Superintendent, Portsmouth City Schools 

We are focused on building relationships, starting with sharing hope. We care about every individual student and his/her learning experience.” – Kathy Mollenkopf, Crestview Local Schools

Critical Questions
And while our hopes and dreams give us courage to change, it may have been even more exciting to listen to these remarkable leaders discuss and collectively respond to the challenges of implementing deeper learning in their district, around the state, and across the nation. The questions they shared reveal both the size of our challenge and the unrelenting dedication required to change educational experiences for every student.

“In addition to deeper learning, I want to be intentional about the deeper leadership it takes to scale true change for all students. What are we waiting for? How do we set conditions for all teachers and students to experience deeper learning?” – Natasha Adams, Superintendent, West Clermont Local Schools

“How do we integrate our Portrait of a Graduate, our vision, so that it’s meaningful work for both staff and students? We want this to be much more than just poster work.”– Cameron Ryba, Strongsville City Schools

“How do we know we’re making progress across our elementary, middle, and high schools? How do we address measurement without making it complicated? How do we measure that the student’s experience is changing?”
– Kimberly Pietsch Miller, Superintendent, Bexley City Schools

“Now that we have a shared vision in our district, we want to hit the ground running. It’s important for us to start by bringing our adults on the journey, and giving them the opportunity to understand and learn what our vision looks like in the classroom.” – Ruth Zitnik, Superintendent, Maysville Local Schools

Leading Together
These visionary leaders are connecting, innovating, and changing. And maybe most importantly, they understand why we must work together to transform education.

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“Superintendents are often expected to have all the answers. Our network is an opportunity to listen, learn, and not have all the answers. This is hard work, but it’s the most critical work. And it’s really important to not go it alone, but to go with friends.” – Jeff Brown, Superintendent, Granville Exempted Village Schools

“We’re constantly sharing with one another our lessons learned from turning our Portraits of a Graduate into real change in the classroom. Our approaches look different, but we all want the same thing for every kid.”
– Melvin Brown, Superintendent, Reynoldsburg City Schools

“This network has helped us all focus on being intentional about exploring our 21st century vision for learning. We are all in, and deeply committed to making great things happen for students.” – Dave Hire, Superintendent, Coshocton City Schools

Battelle for Kids is proud to work alongside this network of superintendents. They understand the multiplying power that comes from working together, committed to a shared purpose and eager to inspire others to the same work.

Advancing 21st century learning experiences for every student is challenging. This work is not for the faint of heart. Fundamentally transforming a deeply entrenched system requires intentionality and the focused attention of all leaders in the school district. We are honored to work alongside districts across the country who want to transform the whole system and make 21st century learning a reality for every student.

Every opportunity I get to engage with one of these leaders, or observe them collaborating with one another, I’m profoundly inspired that we—collectively as a network, an organization, a state, and a nation—are committed to charting a new path forward so that our youth are prepared to succeed now, and in the future.

To every educator and community member committed to transforming the educational system: we thank you for your continued commitment to the journey, changing education for all students.

If you want to learn more about advancing deeper 21st century learning experiences—including membership in our national network, EdLeader21—reach out to us. We’d love to talk with you.

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By Karen K. Garza, PhD,
President & CEO,
Battelle for Kids

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