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Volume 28, Number 3
May/June 2012

A Balancing Act

“Double-duty” superintendents handle two stressful jobs at once

 

Stephen Seyfer attends a science fair in Fish Creek, Wis., where he doubles as the district’s superintendent and elementary principal.

At Gibraltar Elementary School in Fish Creek, Wis., it’s not unusual to see Superintendent Stephen Seyfer checking for bumps, bruises, and possible broken bones out on the playground. On any given day you might see him scoop up a student who took a tumble and give the bruised child a piggyback ride to the office.

How often do you see a school superintendent tending to the occasional boo-boo and putting on Band-Aids? These tasks are not usually in the job description of a chief administrator. But while the soft-spoken Seyfer oversees the rural school district and its 581 students, he has another job, too: He’s also the principal of the district’s elementary school. In that role, he greets the morning buses, answers the phones, and meets with students, staff, and parents—and occasionally administers first aid. In his role as superintendent, he oversees curriculum instruction, transportation, personnel, and building and grounds. His days are divided between managerial tasks and the daily details of tending to students. It’s a constant juggling act.

Seyfer, who has been with the district for 15 years and has served as superintendent–elementary principal for two years, is just one of a growing number of “double-duty” superintendents—district managers who simultaneously hold down another job within the district. “It’s becoming more and more common because of economic conditions,” says Don Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.

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    For Further Information

    For Further Information

    M. Canales, C. Tejeda-Delgado, and J. Slate. “Leadership Behaviors of Superintendent/Principals in Small, Rural School Districts in Texas.” The Rural Educator 29, no. 3 (2008).