Career Path to Superintendent of Ashwaubenon School District
Dr. Brian Hanes is currently the superintendent of Ashwaubenon School District (ASD) in Ashwaubenon, WI. ASD is located in the Village of Ashwaubenon, a suburban community adjacent to the City of Green Bay with a population of 18,000. ASD is a PK-12 district with approximately 3100 students occupying five school buildings. An excerpt of the interview with Hanes follows:
What career path led to your profession of superintendent?
As a high school student, I realized that I had a desire to become a teacher and pursued an instrumental music degree to help and serve students. At that time, I was fortunate to have several positive teachers who influenced my decision to pursue the field of education. After teaching high school instrumental music for four years, I was encouraged by an administrator (Marita Gilsdorf) to attend an administration conference with a nudge to consider the leadership profession. This experience was intriguing to me, so I decided to work on a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin.
After four years of teaching and a lot of reflection, I applied for administrative positions and was offered a position as an assistant principal at the middle school level. I realized I could have an even greater impact on students in the role of an administrator. It was also a difficult decision because I really enjoyed working directly with students. The assistant principal position started my path in educational administration, and I have been in that role for the past 29 years. I have a personal belief that we are in the most important profession in the world and have the ability to really make a difference in this profession!
What educational background and/or professional training are essential for this profession?
Over the years, I have learned that a variety of experiences have been important to help me in this profession. After 33 years in the education business, I clearly have come to learn and understand that other people are our best resource. My educational background includes a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. I also have a distributed minor in Special Education/Curriculum. The coursework and other people in the program were very helpful for me as I developed as an administrator. I soon learned that no question was too difficult if I was willing to use and access resources.
Other traits that are extremely important would be having the ability to juggle multiple tasks/projects, strong interpersonal communication skills, strong organization skills and a thirst to continue learning and self-reflect. I served as an assistant principal at a middle school for two year, middle school principal for seven years and high school principal for two years. All of these experiences have helped me grow and prepare for the role of superintendent.
What professional, civic or community organization do you belong?
I believe it is important to be actively involved in civic and community organizations. I also think it is important to live in the community you serve as a superintendent. Some of the organizations I participated in include: Optimist Club, Kiwanis Club, Community Orchestra, Knights of Columbus, Area Business Association, Y.M.C.A. Board, Library Board, Church Council and Economic Development Committee.
What advice do you give to students who desire to pursue a career as a superintendent?
Choose a quality institution to obtain a degree and surround yourself with people who know more than you…everyone at all levels in life needs a mentor! Keep a sense of humor and work at keeping a balanced life style. Follow your passion and do not try to be someone you are not. Be visible, your job is to help others do their job better. Remember what we learned in kindergarten…live the golden rule. You will never feel like your job is done, nor will you ever have all of the answers. People are your best resource.
What is your typical work day?
With regard to a “typical day,” no two days are ever alike…just like teaching. As a superintendent, much of my day is working with others, attending and/or leading meetings, meeting one-on-one with principals, leading director meetings, attending school events, planning staff development, monitoring hiring decisions, etc. My day starts at about 7:00 a.m. and ends whenever the last event is over. On some days, that is 4:30 a.m. and many days that will mean early evening. I try to attend one of every event/organization in the district…it is not a goal that I can ever totally obtain but a target.
Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of 12 books: Jacob’s Dream! “A Lesson on Numbers and Birds,” “Jacob’s Dream! A Lesson on Alphabets and Continents,” “How to Eradicate Bullying,” “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education,” “How to Eradicate Hazing,” “Professional Career Paths,” “Your Answers to Education Questions,” “How to revitalize the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.” “Completing the Dissertation: Tips, techniques and real-life experiences from Ph.D. graduates.” “Jacob’s Dream, A Story of Careers for Children” and Jacob’s Dream, A Story of Animals in Africa. He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]