Jim’s first book, What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know is a national best seller. In addition Jim has written: Teachers Change Lives 24/7, The Perfect School, Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education, The Art of School Boarding, and The Principal’s Toolbook. He also has written two focus books: The Rights and Responsibilities of School Principals and How to Create the Best Staff Possible.
Jim’s presentations and books are both practical and useful. His goal is to leave his audience with the desire of making a positive difference and with the tools to get it done.
Jim gives some background about his life, work, family, and interests, including the fact that he and his family have turned their garage into a Halloween haunted house every year for the last 30 years (2:52)
The joys of ziplining! (8:00)
Jim traces his career path from his decision as a 6th grader to become an educator up to the present day, and how a teacher that took an interest in him changed his life (10:25)
What it’s like to show up for your teaching job one day and have the superintendent stun you by informing you that you’ve been appointed principal, when you’ve never applied for the job and haven’t expressed any interest in administration (16:10)
If you’re a great teacher of students, you’ll also be a great teacher of teachers (20:35)
Humility + confidence = the key to avoiding coming across as a know-it-all (23:30)
Getting promoted to superintendent, again taking Jim by complete surprise (31:30)
How Jim stays busy in “retirement” – speaking and writing books (36:36)
Books mentioned in this episode
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Educators lead episode 35
Lead with A Humble, Servant-Minded, Helpful Attitude
Show notes: http://www.educatorslead.com/jimburgett1/
Welcome to Educators Lead where we interview leaders in education to offer inspiration and practical advice to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. I’m your host Jay Willis and I want to thank you for subscribing to our show.
Intro: Hello Edu-leaders Jay Willis here and I’m excited to introduce our featured guest today Jim Burgett. Jim is packed with so much wisdom and insight that we’re going to split this conversation up into two parts so this is actually part 1 of my interview with Jim Burgett. Jim are you ready?
Jim Burgett: I am ready and excited to go Jay.
Jay Willis: Great. Jim Burgett is a presenter and author who’s nationally recognized for his ability to lead, motivate, inspire and teach. Jim has received dozens of awards for his teaching and for his ability as an administrator and for his service to many professional organizations. He was named the administrator of the year in Illinois twice, and has been a popular national speaker, presenter and consultant for over 20 years. Jim’s first book What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know is a national bestseller in addition Jim has written Teachers Change Lives 24/7, The Perfect School, Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education, The Art of School Boarding, and the Principal’s Tool Book. He has also written two focus books : The Rights and Responsibilities of School Principals and How to Create the Best Staff Possible. Jim’s presentations and books are both practical and useful; his goal is to leave his audience with the desire of making a positive difference and with a tools to get it done. That’s just a brief introduction Jim but tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Jim Burgett: Well I think people define me as having a passion for what I do, a passion for kids and a passion for education. I’m also a great family man – I think I absolutely have the best family in the world and if we could I’d show you pictures of my grandkids and I love to get involved with their activities. I’m pretty heavily involved in our church but the focus of my working life has always been education and kids and kind of in a nutshell that’s who I am.
Jay Willis: So, what’s something interesting about yourself that probably most people wouldn’t know?
Jim Burgett: Well let’s see, I like to do things that are maybe a little bit out of scope for my age. I love roller coasters, I love zip lining, I ride a bike quite a bit, I work out quite a bit and I also like to just sit down and read a good book. Unfortunately my work doesn’t allow me to do all those things very often but when I do I’m pretty excited about it. I guess one thing that we do that is people think that’s kind of odd, we have (when I say “we” my family) we’ve put on a Halloween Haunted house at our home every year for the last 30 years and it’s just a conversion of our garage into a haunted house for the kids in the town. And we generally have between three and four hundred kids depending on the weather. Of course we don’t charge anything. We work for months to get this thing going we usually have 14 – 15 people inside working and at any time between 6 and 9 o’clock you’ll see a line from our garage out to the street and down the street. People just want to come. Just a lot of fun and something that we’re kind of excited about every year, a little bit odd I guess, but we sure have a good time.
Jay Willis: Yeah sounds like fun. So I bet your house was one where all the kids wanted to come and hang out as your kids were growing up, right?
Jim Burgett: Yeah, absolutely, Jay. you couldn’t say that any better. When my youngest was a boy, he’s now 35 years old, and when he was in school he was in every sport possible and it seems like after every game the entire team would be in our basement eating us out of house and home…and within a few minutes forgetting that I was the school’s superintendent and they would just be yapping about school, and teachers, and this and that. It was great fun, so I think that’s one of the things that you learn during the process of going from being a teacher to a principal to a superintendent is that if you continue to relate to the kids and are visible to the kids and always there for the kids, you build this relationship that just grows and grows and grows and it makes the job so much better when kids know you and appreciate you and I hope consider you to be a fair guy.
So your kids can be a real asset to the job. I know some teachers and administrators feel more comfortable when their kids go to a different school but I was always thrilled that they were at at my school. One thing I would just say Jay, when I retired from being a full-time administrator one of my grandkids was going on to 6th grade at that time and she came over the house when she heard that I’m going to retire and was very angry at me (laughter) that I would not be the administrator when she’s at school, so I thought that it was just real great testimony. Of course, it didn’t stop me from retiring! (laughter)
Jay Willis: Right, that’s neat though. Yeah, you know it’s really neat that they wanted you to be the administrator, that’s great. Cause it could go the other way I’m sure.
Jim Burgett: Oh yeah, and lots of times people would come up with this artificial relationship between their own kids. While I was a teacher and my own kids were in my class I never had them call me Mr. Burgett, you know, if they had to call me anything you know they called me Dad. Because every kid in the room knew I was their dad and it had to be a valid relationship so I always enjoyed that.
Jay Willis: So to backtrack a little bit because this is interesting to me, so wher are some of the fun places you’ve gone zip lining?
Jim Burgett: The most fun of all the zip lining I’ve done is in Branson Missouri. It’s called the Branson zip line and it’s actually about 7 or 8 miles outside the town. It would be north of town on the highway and it’s in the forest and it’s huge it’s just a huge massive zip lining complex. I zip lined in the Caribbean and different places were you go and you’re kind of in jungle and zip line but at Branson’s there are 8 separate zip lining opportunities and they’re all different. It’s just great fun there and the last one you’ll zip line to the top of a hundred-foot man made tower and when you’re up there the only way to get down is to jump off the tower. You’re on the cable, it’s different than the zip lining cable, and you free fall 85 feet and then it stops, and slows down.
Jay Willis: Wow. That’s great
Jim Burgett: I told you I like to do weird things.
Jay Willis: That’s great, sounds fun and I’ve been zip lining once in Costa Rica and it was a blast.
Jim Burgett: was it real like a long zip line?
Jay Willis: Yeah like they had shorter and longer segments but you know we went way up on I don’t know if it was a mountain but it was a pretty tall hill and yes several just really long cables and it made me wonder how in the world does they get these cables up there. One of them though because it was all along the ocean and one of the last ones it was pretty high up there and it was I don’t know how many it was at least a hundred feet long and it was just nothing, I mean you were just I got a couple pictures of it because I had my camera with me at the time and it was just amazing you’re just dangling by these little cable between two trees that you can’t actually even see it at that moment and that was a lot of fun.
Jim Burgett: At Branson it takes you almost 3 hours to go through, that’s a lot of zip lining. It’s just great fun. And I tried to do it everywhere we go.
Jay Willis: yeah well so I guess going back to education here, tell us about your career path like from the point which maybe you graduated from college up until now.
Jim Burgett: Well Jay I really have to go back to 6th grade, because as I was growing up I always wanted to be a pilot or a teacher. But I was really undecided and when I had a teacher in 6th grade I was going through some family situations my parents were both alcoholics and it was a very dysfunctional family but from the outside it seem like a fairly normal family, and I had a 6th grade teacher who really was a guy that just came around and made you feel valuable and could almost sense that you were having difficulties and the way he handled the students in the class. I wrote a book called Teachers Change Lives 24/7 and there’s an entire chapter devoted to Mr. Ruggles. And when I got done with that year I decided I wanted to be a carbon copy of Mr. Ruggles and so I decided to keep a journal of what it was that made me feel good in school and it ended up being a page that was divided down the middle and I would put the things that teachers did that I wanted to do and the things that teachers did that I didn’t think worked.
And I kept little notes in journals all the way to high school even on to college. And it was a little bit odd I suppose for a kid that was 12 years old but when I decided to go to college and my vision was fairly poor so going into the Air Force became not an option for me, so I wasn’t split between what I wanted to do. I decided I’m going to be a teacher; I’m going to work towards it. Math and science were my favorite subjects, so, I thought well, I’ll be a junior high science teacher.
And so I went in to college to with the idea of being a junior science high school teacher. And I graduated with a degree in high school chemistry and a minor in junior high science and math. And I graduated in the middle of the year and I was going to finish the year by taking graduate classes and I thought it would be helpful to take classes in guidance and counseling. Not that I wanted to be one, because I did not want to be one. But I thought I have a semester before a job would open so I’m going to take classes in guidance and counseling.
And as it turned out I was just about to ready to start that semester and I got a phone call from a school district that needed a teacher in the middle of the year and they needed a junior high science and math teacher and I thought well, this isn’t what I wanted, it was in a very rural area. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and I didn’t know where I wanted really to end up but I wasn’t familiar with a rural climate. And I thought well look you know I had a wife that was pregnant I thought what would it be like to have money come in rather than money go out? And I thought I will do this for a semester. And I ended up there for 25 years.
And I absolutely from the very first day that I walked in to the classroom under the most bizarre situations I just loved it. I loved the kids that I was given and I loved the fact that I was teaching and they had me coach basketball which I had never played basketball in high school. I was gymnast and a diver and so during the basketball season I was always involved in something else so I coached a sport that I had no knowledge of. And my story…when I have the time to tell the story of my first semester of teaching it just breaks every rule and it’s so bizarre and it was so wonderful it could not have been better and so when the year was almost over that superintendent came to me and said, “You’re coming back aren’t you?” And I said, “Well, I thought we had agreed on a one semester job and so I really wasn’t planning to come back” and he said, “Oh, no, you have to come back” and I talked to my wife and we said well, let’s do it for another year and of course she tells me now that she knew that I wouldn’t leave that I loved it too much and so that’s how I got into it. But the shift from teaching to administration – may I share that?
Jay Willis: Yeah, go ahead.
Jim Burgett: I was teaching for about 3 to 4 years and very, very, very busy. Like I said it was a small school – I taught fifth and sixth grade P.E. 7th and 8th grade P.E, 7 and 8th grade math and 7 & 8th grade science. And I coached all the sports and I basically did everything because I was the only man in the building so anything that had “male” to it they gave to me. We did not have a principal – we had a superintendent that was over the elementary building, which I was in, elementary junior high, and the high school.
And we had a reading supervisor I guess who functioned as the administration in our building, and she was a nightmare. And one day in the spring the superintendent appears in my classroom during first hour, which was the only hour that I didn’t have a class. I was setting up for a science lab and he came in and he talked to me for almost the entire hour which was rather annoying because I was trying to set up for the lab and he was kind of a quirky guy, a great guy but kind of quirky, and towards the end of the hour he said, “Oh. I forgot why I came in. We had a schoolboard meeting last night. And we appointed you the first elementary principal that the district’s ever had.” And he turned around and walked out the door.
(Laughter) Yeah. So like I said I was as busy as a one armed paper hanger. And I didn’t have time to go down and even to talk to him until after school. So after school I went down and I said (his name was Tom; Mr. Tom) and I said, “Mr. Tom, what was that you were talking about in terms of we’re going to have a principal for next year is that what you were saying?” “No”, he said, “we hired you to be the principal and next year you’re going to be the elementary principal.” I told him I wasn’t certified to be the principal; I hadn’t taken any education classes in administration. Nor had I decided that was the direction that I wanted to go.
“You have to do that”, he said, “you have to do it – the board wants you to be the principal.” I said, “Okay but maybe you didn’t catch that one sentence – I don’t have a license to be a principal.” He said, “Oh, by the time you get it – and we’re going to put you on a fast track – by the time you get it they’ll catch on.”
See, this is all a few years ago, when it wasn’t quite as stringent as it is right now. And he was right – they put me on a fast track, I went to graduate school each semester and all summer and in a year and two summers I was certified. By then I was the principal and I said to him, “I love teaching so much that I don’t know really if I want to be a principal.” He said, “Oh, we thought about that, too. We’re going to let teach you your full load.” (Laughter)
And I was so naïve and there was no job track for me to follow so I didn’t know how much time that would take because nobody had ever done that. So I entered the principalship absolutely loving being in the classroom and I was able to transition…for 6 years I did that, eventually I gave up a couple of classes here and there so that by the time I was done with those 6 years I was teaching maybe a half day and in administration the other half, but I was a full time principal and a full time teacher at the same time.
And it dawned on me – a guy came in to my office at the second year and he was from a visiting school, and he said, “Jim you’re going to be an excellent principal. You already are but as you grow from this job you’ll see you’re going to be excellent.” And I told him I just thought that I could have more impact in the classroom and he said, “You have to realize that a great teacher in the classroom can become a great teacher of teachers. And when you can teach teachers with the same passion that you teach students, think of the impact that you’ll have, think how wide it becomes, and never lose that connection with your students when you get into administration, never stop being a teacher-student based administrator, never shift to just teachers, and always be the leader of both of them.” And he said, “I think you’re going to find that you’re going to love this job” and I would say that probably the third year of doing it and I did it well the first two years but in the 3rd year my heart switched to the fact that I could see that I was making a bigger difference by being a principal.
Probably the hardest part of the transition was I was just in my mid 20’s and I was working with teachers who were very veteran, a couple of them were in their mid-70’s. And they were veteran in teaching students to read and write in the primary, which I have no training in. And I had to learn to be trained by good teachers and to learn not the mechanics of the curriculum but the mechanics of teaching the curriculum to different grade levels by becoming associates with these excellent teachers. And I think that willingness to not start out by being the know-it-all but to start out by being the advocate and visionary of what could we do better in terms of the school but allowing the good teachers the excellent teachers to be the owners of that proprietary classroom experience…I think it helped me develop really good relationships with my staff and when you have a good relationship and they respect you and you respect them, it’s a good job.
Jay Willis: Yeah, well, is there anything that you think any wisdom or coaching, is there any way somebody could have come to you back when you were young and kind of in a know-it-all phase…like what advice would you have listened to that maybe would have helped snap you out of it? Because I guess a lot of the guests that I have on the show will say that very same thing, where you know in the beginning they were really excited about the position and they kind of jumped in sort of as a know-it- all but then they learned over time that really if they listened more and made it more of a collaborative effort instead of just jumping in giving orders, that things went a lot better.
Jim Burgett: Absolutely, Jay, that, that is such a true statement. In my role now as a professional development provider and mentor and consultant, I try to advise people that go into administration, whether they’re going into their first superintendency or their first principalship, to go and to a with a very humble attitude but have a very confident attitude.
In other words, when I became an administrator I was confident that I was a good teacher – I felt I was a good teacher…my kids were scoring on the California achievement test which was what we had back then better than anybody had scored before. The kids loved my classroom, we had a lot of fun. I was an engaging and entertaining teacher but also a teacher that individualized before IEP’s were ever thought of. So I had confidence that I knew how to teach but that confidence was I knew I how to teach math and science and I really knew how to teach adolescents and kids who were hormonally challenged (laughter) you know I relate to them really well. So I walked in to the principal ship having that level of that confidence but also the humility of not knowing much about primary grades or transition grades whether they’re moving from long division to multiplication you know I had to learn that. So my attitude going into it was to say, “Look, I’m your principal, and what we have to do is work together to make this school system better and you’re going to have to help me and I’m going to have to help you in the areas where I can but we’ve got to know that neither one of us have all the answers.”
So you have to come to it with a humble servant minded helpful attitude and I told many young principals never ask somebody to do anything that you aren’t willing to at least learn how to do, if you don’t know how to do it and aren’t willing to do it yourself. Never send them into the room with a room of irate parents if you’re not willing to go with them and I think that collaborative attitude is very helpful.
I did have a mentor…I had a guy who was many years my senior and he was in the neighboring town which we eventually would consolidate with and become a part of and he took a liking to me I think when I came over to his school as a basketball coach. So when I was named principal he actually came over and said, “I want to take you to lunch, let’s find a way that you can go to lunch.” And he said “there’s two things that I want to share with you and I want to do it face to face.” And the first thing that you share with me, that I never ever forget was that when your kids are playing or participating, when they’re in the Christmas program, when your kindergartener is out there and singing the Christmas carols at the Christmas program, or when your kids get involved and play sports, never be the principal when your kids are performing always be the parent because your kids are going to grow up and they’re going to go away and you’re still gonna be there. Don’t miss that opportunity and there are ways to do that. So I listened to that and I took that to heart.
The second thing he said was and it is very simple he said, “Never be cocky.”(Laughter) He says no one likes a cocky principal or arrogant or conceited or bossy. He had many terms for it. He said, “Always be strong, always be the last word if the last word’s necessary, and always be decisive. But never be arrogant.” And I remembered those two things and then later I learned a third thing and the third thing is “be visible.” If you want to be a successful administrator, be humble slash not arrogant be visible which means take the time, make the time, prioritize your time so that you are seen and seen in a positive way and I used to make it a goal when I was the Elementary Principal to visit every classroom every day. Now, I only had 18 classrooms so it was doable but when I became a larger school administrator I wouldn’t visit them every day but I would visit them frequently so sometimes when I became the superintendent over five communities and 8 schools as a superintendent I visited a school a week I had lunch in a school every week which my predecessor maybe didn’t do sometimes but a couple times a year. That visibility, that being there and I always took a clipboard with me so that when people talk to you and they always did, and ask you a question, or made a suggestion or wanted to know this or that, I wrote it down and when I got back to the office that clipboard was a priority on my to do list. Was to do that and get back to them ASAP before I went out and started a new page on the clipboard and that’s the visibility part.
Jay Willis: Yeah, yes, I want to kind of go back a little bit -so you got the principal position which was initially under protest. (Laughter)
Jim Burgett: Well not really protest; I think shock. (Laughter)
Jay Willis: Okay, then so how long were you principal there?
Jim Burgett: I was just principal for about 6 years and then I was named principal and superintendent of the high school so I was principal of the elementary and then after 6 years the guy who was the superintendent left and I hate to say this Jay but the same exact scenario took place, at a board meeting. He left without much warning that he was going to leave and I think it was a mutual thing and the board at that meeting just without me knowing that he was going to leave, the board just decided to make me the superintendent. And again and I didn’t have my certificate for superintendent and they said, “Oh, we’ve been here before we can do it again.”
And so I became now the high school principal and the superintendent and that’s a job created in purgatory (laughter) yeah I really I had that job for 6 years and then we consolidated, I was part of a consolidation and I became superintendent over two districts that merged together and at that point I had a real hard time leaving the classroom. I still taught in every case when I was superintendent and high school principal I created a class called Love, Trust and Success for sophomores. Because the sophomores who took driver’s ed, every other day they went into the study hall. So I created this class that they could take it was optional – instead of a study hall they could take my class and I’m kind of proud to say that I always got 100% of all kids nobody ever opted out of one. It was a good class and they knew me and they kind of liked me so until I became the superintendent of the consolidated district…that was the first time I never taught a class. So and then I was there…that took place in 1985 and in 1992 I moved to a much larger district in southern Illinois, kind of mid-Illinois, right outside of St. Louis, as just the superintendent. That was a district of 3,000 kids in 8 schools and 5 communities so I was very busy in that district and loved it so I was there for 12 years. So that’s my career path.
Jay Willis: Yeah, well then what after that?
Jim Burgett: Well when we consolidated the districts in Illinois it was the first…there were two districts, two sets of districts that consolidated in 1983 which was at the very beginning of new legislation on consolidation. So my two districts, there was a northern one and then there were two districts in the southern part of the state…and our consolidations were extremely successful and we became spokespeople for the Illinois department of education for the many districts that were now looking at the incentive legislation for consolidation. And so I became kind of a speaker for consolidation and I would go and share my philosophy on different things and as one thing would lead to another people would ask questions about this and that and I would get an invite to come back and talk to the teachers about different things and I’d never planned on it but it kind of merged into a speaking career which later merged into a writing career. So when I retired in 1992 I was doing a lot of work with other districts and still being a superintendent which my district loved. So I just pretty much shifted to that full time so I went from being in the classroom and teaching to being outside of education and becoming a professional development speaker and just kind of using all the great things that teachers had shared with me, administrators had shared with me, to just chronicle in books and take my journals and everything and write books. And I’m still doing that, although I’m trying to slow down, but I really do enjoy it.
Jay Willis: Well now that you’re “retired” what keeps you busy these days?
Jim Burgett: Well this morning I was preparing for four separate presentations that I’ll be giving in the next couple of weeks. I do a lot of speaking for school board associations across the country I wrote a book recently called The Art of School Boarding and it was a book really written for people who are new school board members, who are thinking about being a school board member, or really for people who are really crummy school board members and they need a book to tell them how to do it right. And it has great traction and it is extremely popular so I’m doing a lot of speaking in that regard right now. And I’m also doing a lot of speaking with the other new book that I wrote called The School Principal’s Toolbook which is literally a guide for principals – kind of a summary of everything that I have been talking about in my academies and in my workshops and I put it into a book format so those two are keeping me relatively busy.
Jay Willis: Yeah so while we’re kind of talking about this I know you’ve written a lot of books as I was this you know looking through, all of the books you’ve written, I guess a couple questions that I wanted to ask that are unique with your experience that I think would provide some value to our listeners just in regard to your author hat like what inspired you to write like that first book that you wrote?
Jim Burgett: I was at a conference; it was one of the…Illinois has the largest conference of…it’s a joint conference of superintendents, board members, business officials. It’s called the Triple-I conference and its sometimes has as many as 14 thousand people attending, usually the average between 11 and 12,000. And Illinois has 850 different districts, so we’re one of these states with a lot of districts. We’re also the most screwed up state in the Union in terms of funding and our government, as most people know.
But very proudly we have huge conference and it’s an excellent conference. And I was sitting and in the conference with two other guys that are pretty well known in education Max McGee – he was state superintendent here; he’s now the superintendent of the Palo Alto school district. He was head of the Math-Science Academy here. And Jim Rosborg who is a retired superintendent who runs the graduate work at McKendree University. All three of us were superintendents sitting and we were having dinner at this conference and we were talking about the fact that new principals coming into the field have great academic book smarts but they don’t have any practical information and the universities do a fairly lousy job of talking about practical things. And so when they get into the job they have theory and they’ve taken you know child psychology and all this stuff, and school finance…but when they get there they don’t realize that every district has its own fingerprint and its own politics and its own demographics, and its own needs. And it has its own people and they all needed a uniquely individualized principal.
So the three of us decided we needed to take our collective wisdom (little arrogant there I guess) and write a book and so we wrote a book and we called it What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs To Know. It’s a pretty simple topic and then the publishers subtitled it School Leadership for the Real World. And the three of us contacted a publisher, did a nationwide survey of whether a book like this had any merit and/or any value, and by the way another fundamental thought was we were not going to write books to make money – we were going to write these books to share our experiences and hopefully improve the profession. That was the underlying goal of even coming up with the idea of maybe assembling our knowledge together. So the survey that was taken was extremely positive about yes this book is needed, a hands-on practical book is needed. And we had publishers that were clamoring for it and we hadn’t even written it yet. I mean we only had chapter outlines. So the three of us got together and in a matter of a year we really worked hard and came up with this book. And priced the book at $24.95, because our goal is to make it cheap enough the teachers going in the principalship in and principals would buy it and use it and learn from it. We didn’t know that it would become a textbook in many universities and we know that we pray would have priced it at $120! (Laughter)
Jay Willis: That’s more in line with what textbooks cost! (Laughter)
Jim Burgett: Yeah, I’m very proud of the book. After a year or two the publisher came back and said do you have more and we did, we had tons more and we couldn’t fit in to that book. So we wrote the sequel called The Perfect School, same 3 authors, and with the theme of that thing being everybody is on the path to the perfect school or the perfect district. Nobody will get there, but this is the path you take to try to achieve it. And that was the end of that collaboration; we all went in our different directions. We’re still great friends. But those two books were quite successful. In my heart I always wanted to write a book for teachers – a book that teachers could pick up and become emotionally attached to the book, motivated to try some of the practical ideas, and the book would reflect great input that I had received giving administrator academies and teacher workshops of what works. And I kind of put the book together; I entitled it Teachers Change Lives 24/7: 150 Ways to Do It Right. What it really has in there is like 176 different ideas that go along with stories and it’s very inspirational; it’s my favorite book.
It’s also a book that has sold…I’m not sure if it’s in its 13th or 14th printing. It’s a timeless book. I priced that one at $17.95 and I have to tell you that just to make a point – that my wife and I just decided when I entered this book thing that we would never take 5 cents profit from the books. We take all the profit that comes in from the books and we just turn around on give it to charities and give it to church and we give to education organizations. And so it’s a book that gives and then gives again. We never wanted to be tied in to the money aspect of the book. I never wanted to feel like I was selling a book, so we priced it so there isn’t much profit, but that book went nuts.
Then a similar situation took place – a lawyer who works for the Illinois Principal’s Association, Brian Schwartz, he and I also sat down and were eating and he said, “You know that book you wrote for administrators? Well we should write one that has to do with school law – what is it that they really need to know about school law?” And I said, “Well if we collaborated on it, how about if you write what they need to know about school law, and then I write how they make it work?” Or in some cases ignore it, because you know when you’re dealing with individuals sometimes the law gets in your way, and so it’s a practical, it’s a balance, it’s called Balancing Best Practices in the Law: Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education. And so that book took on a life of its own. I mentioned the other two that I wrote recently – the school board book and the principal’s tool book. They have been ways for me to open up doors to come and speak and when I’m done speaking I can leave the ideas in a practical way that people can make reference to. I’ve just benefited so much by being able to take everything that has been shared with me and re-share it, re-gift it so to speak in the form of the books. So they’ve been a work of love.
Jay Willis: Edu-leaders this has been a great part one of my interview Jim Burgett today. Tune in on Friday for part two of my interview with Jim. For the show notes of today’s show and other resources please visit educatorslead.com and type the word Jim Burgett into the search tool to find more about this episode. And that wraps up another episode of educators’ lead.
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Educators Lead is a podcast created to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. This show is for you if you are interested in educational leadership as an assistant principal, principal, superintendent, teacher or someone who hopes to be a school leader one day. Educators Lead offers inspiration and practical advice to help you lead more effectively. Jay Willis interviews school leaders three days a week to discuss why and when these educators made the decision to move into school leadership, challenges along the journey, and stories that made it all worthwhile. Educators Lead is a great resource for any educator looking to make a greater impact.
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