7 Questions with Colleen Traniser

Name: Colleen Traniser

Current title: Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Assessment

Current organisation: Diocese of Joliet

I have had the privilege of serving in Catholic Education throughout the tenure of my career. I began my career teaching third grade. Upon completion of my doctorate, I served as principal and now as Assistant Superintendent.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?

Times have changed quickly during the 16 years I have worked in education. Our culture has shifted from parent support of educators, to parents demonstrating less support of teachers and administrators. I have found this to be incredibly challenging serving in tuition based settings.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

When I wake each morning, I start the day loving on my dogs and brewing strong coffee. I have recently started a gratitude journal to help me start the day in a positive state of mind. I try to adhere to my calendared responsibilities for the day, but have to remain flexible as unexpected needs and issues arise. In the evenings, I have the privilege of serving as an adjunct instructor, and principal preparation internship coordinator and am often reading and preparing for graduate level courses and seminars. I try to get a good night's rest each evening knowing I will need to recharge to be prepared for the next day.

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

One of the most significant lessons that I have learned is that no matter the number of years experience and years of formal education you have, understanding the culture of the school in which you are hired to serve, is more important than any lessons learned throughout your teaching experiences and graduate courses. If you are not able to adapt to the school culture, there is very little chance of success in that community.

4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Culture Solution by Matthew Kelly was provided to me last year by my Superintendent. This was tremendously influential as I discovered the importance of contributing to creating a dynamic culture.

5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?

We implement a rigorous hiring process that helps identify teachers who truly support the Mission of Catholic Schools. By nurturing positive work environments, we are often able to retain teachers who truly are dedicated to creating Disciples of Christ. Although we are not able to monetarily compensate our teachers at a rate comparable to our public school counterparts, we often hear from teachers that the family feel in our communities often is what keeps our highly valued teachers in our buildings.

6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

As we proceed through the COVID crisis, our emphasis has been on addressing the Social Emotional needs of not only our students, but our teachers and administrators as well. Our Mission includes teaching the whole child and developing a culture of wellbeing in our schools is essential in fulfilling this Mission.

7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?

Serving in the Catholic Principal Preparation program at Lewis University during this school year, has been such an incredible experience for me. I am honored to be a part of this journey for our up and coming school administrators.