1st Edition

The Hero Maker How Superintendents Can Get their School Boards to Do the Right Thing

By Ryan Donlan, Todd Whitaker Copyright 2017
    130 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    130 Pages
    by Eye On Education

    130 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    Learn how to turn your school board members into heroes by helping them make smart, worthwhile decisions that they will deserve to brag about. In this much-needed book, Ryan Donlan and Todd Whitaker offer practical strategies to help superintendents develop better working relationships with their boards. You’ll discover how to:

    • reconnect board members to the real purpose of education, despite their agendas
    • work with your board more effectively during meetings and at times in between
    • guide board members into more productive roles when they overreach beyond policymaking
    • connect and communicate with board members regardless of personality
    • encourage board members to play to their strengths
    • start each school year undefeated and know when it is time to move on.

    Each chapter contains hero-making tips to help you get started. The book also includes a special feature on board personalities and the Process Communication Model® (PCM), a method that will make it easier to avoid miscommunication with board members. With this practical book, you'll be able to overcome the challenges of the superintendent–board relationship so that your board can make better decisions for those who matter most—the students.

    Chapter 1 – The Hero Maker Chapter 2 – Constituencies Chapter 3 – The Board of Education Chapter 4 – The Superintendent as The Shield Chapter 5 – The Care and Feeding of Board Members Chapter 6 – Board Meetings Chapter 7 – Between Board Meetings Chapter 8 – Advancing by Retreating Chapter 9 – Board Personalities: The I in Team Chapter 10 – Board Personalities: Doors and the Dance of Drama Chapter 11 – Starting Undefeated Chapter 12 – The Tour of Duty Epilogue: What Next? Toward Difference-making Special Feature: Board Personalities and the Process Communication Model® (PCM)


    Ryan Donlan is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University and specializes in helping schools with leadership and governance. He has co-authored three books, including Minds Unleashed: How Principals Can Lead the Right-Brained Way . Todd Whitaker is a Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Missouri. He is a leading presenter in the field of education and has written more than 40 books, including the national best seller, What Great Teachers Do Differently .

    "The Hero Maker gets to the heart of the board/superintendent relationship—quickly and with influence. Donlan and Whitaker remind us that as superintendents we serve as our boards’ first teachers. The authors give cogent examples of what that looks like in practice—and how purposeful efforts make huge differences in focusing the work on what matters. A must read for new and experienced superintendents alike."—Karen Rue, Senior Associate, N2Learning; 2016 President, Urban Superintendents of America Association; Past-President, Texas Association of School Administrators

    "The superintendent sits on an island. That island can become very lonely. The relationship forged between board and district leader is essential to getting off that island and leading the district in a direction that is best for students, parents, staff, and community members. Donlan and Whitaker provide a practical guide to address a multitude of issues that arise during the superintendency. The Hero Maker helps administrators empower those around them, while still maintaining the delicate balance needed to move a district forward."—Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent, Fall Creek School District, WI

    "This book is full of practical tips that provide insight that would benefit new superintendents or even the most seasoned veteran. Donlan and Whitaker do an excellent job of providing easy-to-implement, concrete tips to make every board member feel and act like a hero. Additionally, the book could serve as a great resource to help a board member better understand the broad context of everything their vital job entails."—PJ Caposey, Superintendent, Meridian CUSD 223, Stillman Valley, IL

    "Superintendent and school board relationships are a critical component to successful school corporations.  Yet for all the importance intertwined in this relationship, few resources or training guides exist on how to maneuver and succeed through these complex relationships. The Hero Maker by Donlan and Whitaker is a crucial resource for the beginning or highly experienced school superintendent. Donlan and Whitaker’s common sense approach for superintendents to build relations, avoid pitfalls, and communicate efficiently and successfully provides a path for long-term and successful relationships of superintendents with their school board members."—David Hoffert, PhD, Superintendent, Warsaw Community Schools, IN

    "The Hero Maker is a must read for superintendents who want to excel at working with their school boards. Establishing and maintaining effective relationships with board members is paramount for any superintendent who desires to effectively lead a school district. In this book, Donlan and Whitaker provide practical and relevant strategies that can be implemented by superintendents at large and small districts alike to help guide school boards to operate in a manner that will be beneficial to students and the community at large. I highly recommend this book from these two influential educational leaders."—Rob Moorhead, Superintendent, South Ripley Community School Corporation, Versailles, IN