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7 Questions on Leadership with Jill Gildea

Name: Jill Gildea

Title: Superintendent

Organisation: Park City School District

Dr. Jill Gildea has served as Superintendent of Schools for the past 16+ years across 3 states. Her background includes serving as an educator, elementary school principal, high school and district administrator.

Gildea has had a keen interest in academic, business and operational leadership areas and enjoys both the tactical and strategic aspects of serving as a school superintendent.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Dr. Gildea's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

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

Navigating through political system influence and effect on the educational system is challenging.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Hmmm… first born daughter of hardworking parents, a Depression Era grandmother as primary caregiver who taught me to read prior to school, and the kindergarten teacher who asked me to read to the class while she completed paperwork likely led me to my leadership journey!

In the field, it was several taps on the shoulder and the invitation to teach, to be a team leader, department and school site leader ultimately moving into district level and then systems and organizational leadership work.

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

It’s a mad dash! Wake up ahead of the alarm most days and attend to Aili and Teddy, dog family members, grab a coffee on the way into work having addressed initial emails and calls from home or on the way in.

Days are filled with all sorts of meetings and action projects along with coaching and supporting team members - from school visits, weekly check-ins with principals, community based connections-nonprofit partnerships and solution providers such as weekly construction team calls or meetings external auditors or parents, there are scheduled and unscheduled meetings where people come first!

Coordinating follow up messaging and communications are a big part of each day as is reviewing data and outcomes that our students, classrooms and schools are achieving. A quick stop with HR, a Board member or a community or school event may close out the formal work day.

Travel home, dinner and a quick dog walk and I’m typically right back at the desk with emails, action reports, communication planning or research on best practices. While I support an 8+8+8 Principle, I’ve not yet mastered that balance with heavier time and emphasis focused on creating conditions for staff and student success.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Speak and share when asked. Sometimes we jump in with a solution without enough context or provide what sounds like directions rather than thought partner support due to the role we are in as systems leaders.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Leadership is an art - Max DePree; the lessons resonate as leadership begins with you and your core values.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Figure out the 8+8+8 Principles! 8 hours work, 8 hours on 3Fs, 3Hs and 3 Ss; and 8 hours of good sleep — 3Fs are family , friends and faith; 3Hs are health, hygiene and hobby; 3 Ss are soul, service and smile.

I have to still figure out where travel time fits in … Another is: Your legacy is in your people !

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Helping and supporting others on their leadership journey has been an impactful, meaningful and memorable part of this career!

Celebrating a colleague’s terminal degree; celebrating a colleague moving into greater areas of responsibility and leadership. These are memories that are personally meaningful!

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