Saturday, December 28, 2013

Interviewing my Replacement

Early in my career, someone told me that the best way to gain perspective on your job is to (1) update your resume, (2) meet with prospective clients, and (3) interview replacements.  It’s not as grim as it sounds.  The process of writing your resume forces you to think about what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve learned.  Similarly, selling to prospects and forces you to articulate what your organization does well, and lets you hear from others what about areas that might be blind spots in your own perception of your team.  Interviewing job candidates forces you to think about how others might fill in those gaps and perhaps bring a fresh perspective to the team.

This past December brought several opportunities to do all of the above.  In my day job, I run the client services team at a SaaS billing provider.  I was chatting with a client about my “night job” on the Board, and had a very interesting discussion about how the skills from both jobs cross-pollinate.  Someone I met in my professional life thought I came across as “quiet”, and they wondered if I’d hold my own in a room with strongly held views.  I laughed – out loud- at that, before explaining the back story to my role on the school board.  Both my day job and my role on the school board involve working across a diverse set of interests to forge a shared vision for where we want to go.  When is the right time to the course and focus, and when is it time to shake up the status quo?  We did a bit of both this past fall when we introduced extended day kindergarten.  There are many other examples, and I’m thrilled with the work were doing.

Also in December, I had the chance to attend our New Family Orientation Night.  This is a chance for families who are new to our community to come hear about LASD.  Most of these folks have a child entering kindergarten, but it’s also good for families who have recently moved into our area.  Watching the presentations gave me a great feeling of pride in how far we’ve come over the past 4 years.  New parents are excited to hear about our STEM program, about how we tailor instruction to each student, and about the achievements as they compete at the state and national level in pursuits as wide-ranging as chess and mathematics to drama and dance.  Our children are wonderfully successful in life, and I like to think that is in part because we’ve given them a fantastic start.

I’ve also spent some time over the past month handing over the reins to Tammy Logan, who is now our new Board President.  Tammy has been a great colleague over the past 4 years.  We don’t always agree on the issues, but I can honestly say that she challenges me in ways that forces me to articulate carefully what I believe and why.  That kind of honest debate serves LASD well, and I’m sure she’ll do a great job as our new leader.  Looking further down the road, there will be an election in November 2014, and there are three seats up for election.  If you’re thinking about running, this is a great time to reach out to Trustees and ask them about their service on the Board.   I have no idea who might run for re-election, and who might step down, but our community is fortunate to have a very deep pool of talent from which we can draw.  If you are passionate about public education, and you’re willing to work for the students who attend LASD schools, I’d encourage you to consider running.  It’s a great way to serve the community.  In the meantime, I have another year on my term, and I’m going to enjoy working with our team to continue revolutionizing learning for all students.  I want to express my gratitude to the many, many people who have given me their support this year, and I look forward to continuing to earn that trust and support in 2014.