One school job that’s really noticed – Leadership Lite

A Revealing Meal Choice

Gary Buehler of Oswego, N.Y., spends some of his free time electronically sharing amusements with his fellow superintendent retirees. One of his latest favorite tales is this:

In an effort to add diversity to the workforce, five cannibals were hired by a large school district. During the welcoming ceremony, the superintendent says, “You’re all part of our team now, You can earn good money here, and you can go to the cafeteria for something to ear. So please don’t trouble any of the other employees.”

The cannibals promised to follow the rules.

Four weeks later, the superintendent returns, saying, “You’re all working very hard, and I’m very satisfied with all of you. However, one of our janitors has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to him?” The cannibals shake their heads no.

After the boss left, the leader of the cannibals turned to the others. “Which one of you idiots ate the janitor?” A hand went up, hesitantly, to which the leader responded, “You fool! For four weeks we’ve been eating assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, team leaders, supervisors, coordinators and directors, arid no one noticed anything, and you had to go and eat the janitor!”

Money for Your Thoughts

David Chambers, principal of Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Monrebello, Calif., had started the daily practice of reading the SAT “word of the day” over the public address system.

The routine wasn’t attracting much attention until the day Chambers requisitioned $20 in $1 bills and went out to the quad area where students congregate during lunch breaks. He went from group to group offering a dollar to any student who could give him one of the words with its definition.

“The kids racked their brains and over the course of the breaktime I gave our the entire $20,” Chambers says. Now that students have begun to write down the daily word, Chambers has a new challenge in mind. “I’m going to make them put it in a sentence. I’ll probably do it once a week and the school may go broke, but it sure is a lot of fun.”

Ask, Then Act

Soon after assuming the superintendency in Lawrenceburg, Ind., in an earlier stage of his career, T.R. Ellis found himself needing to replace the district treasurer, who had resigned. Figuring he could cut personnel costs, he tried to persuade a central-office secretary to take over the role.

“It’ll be a nice promotion,” he suggested to the secretary: “You could be making more money. Look at this salary scale I developed at my last job. It’s now being used all over that state. You could be making $8.83 an hour. How much do you make now?” (That question should’ve been the starting point of the conversation.)

Secretary: “$10.17.”

Clean Floors, Bright Minds

Maybe spring housecleaning is more important than you know–especially for children.

Sociologists have discovered a direct link between a clean, well-organized home and the educational and financial success of the children reared there. “As Ye Sweep, So Shall Ye Reap” is the title of the study published in The American Economic Review.

Even with controls for numerous factors, including wealth, parents’ education, outside cleaning help, number of siblings and urban versus rural settings, the findings were startling: Children reared in “very clean” to “clean” homes later completed an average of 13.6 years of schooling and earned an average of $14.70 per hour. Those who grew up in “not very clean to dirty” homes completed 12 years of schooling on average and earned $12.60 per hour.

So rev up those vacuums.

A Pacesetter in Many Ways

Jim Popham received a well-deserved round of kudos from friends and colleagues attending the 2002 American Educational Research Association conference in New Orleans, where he received an award for career contributions in the field of educational measurement.

The day after receiving his honor, Popham was finishing an early-morning breakfast of egg-biscuits at the Wendy’s down the street from his hotel when he noticed a disheveled woman in a corner booth watching him toss his litter in the trash container. He was taken aback when the woman looked him in the eye to offer “congratulations.”

Wondering how someone he assumed was a down-on-her-luck bag lady would be inclined to know of his award, Popham uttered a knee-jerk “thank you.”

His confused look must have been evident to the woman, who said: “You’re the first man today who’s bussed his own tray.”

Short humorous anecdotes, quips, quotations and malapropisms for this column relating to school district administration should be addressed to: Editor, The School Administrator, 1801 N. Moore St., Arlington, VA 22209-1813. Fax: 703-528-2146. E-mail: Upon request, names may be with held in print.

COPYRIGHT 2002 American Association of School Administrators

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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