By: Pat Darfler-Sweeney
By Julia Mills
Patrick Darfler-Sweeney, '10 takes an active interest in
educational questions that affect K-12 students. As a former
superintendent and lead negotiator in a school district, he
understands the inevitable personal feelings involved when making
decisions that shape the lives of children, teachers, and families.
Through his many years as a servant leader, Darfler-Sweeney learned
what it means to be a thoughtful and effective administrator.
Recently, Darfler-Sweeney published a new book for aspiring
superintendents, The Superintendent's Rulebook: A Guide to
District-Level Leadership. The book serves as a professional
development tool for education leaders that combines theory with
The structure of the book had been inspired by the popular
television series NCIS, where the main protagonist Gibbs develops a
code to live by (in the form of rules) that he shares with his
colleagues. Darfler-Sweeney wrote his book to accomplish much of
the same thing for education leaders. He presents a set of rules
for superintendency based on situations that consume the most time
and energy and cause the most stress on task for
He also wanted to present a more human side to the
superintendency. "It is a lonely perch," Darfler-Sweeney remarks.
"No other position in a school district really prepares someone to
be a superintendent."
During his career, Darfler-Sweeney never shied away from making
significant changes to a curriculum or educational structure, a
lesson he learned from his time in the Executive Ed.D program at
Seton Hall. The program inspired him to embrace leadership and find
ways to appeal to the various constituencies when taking on new
initiatives. In his previous school district, Darfler-Sweeney
cultivated a more digitally engaged student body and created
opportunities for students to accrue college credit that carries
over into their undergraduate careers.
Beyond instituting change, Darfler-Sweeney also makes it a point
to be "a leader in the field not about the field." He understands
the importance of keeping up to date with research and best
practices while also developing strong professional
Although now retired as a superintendent, Darfler-Sweeney still
serves his community as the Project Director for the University of
the State of New York Research Fund. He is in charge of the
Principal Preparation Initiative, which oversees and creates
recommendations for seven K-12 pilot programs. The former
superintendent was also recently invited to present at the New York
State School Council of Superintendents Conference.
Learn more about the Executive Ed.D. in K-12 School
Administration by visiting the program page.
Categories: Alumni , Education
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