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7 Questions on Leadership with Shanna Spickard

Name: Shanna Spickard

Title: Superintendent

Organisation: DeWitt Public Schools - DeWitt, MI

I have served DeWitt Public Schools as the superintendent and will be starting my 3rd year with the District. I have over 25 years in education. In addition to my superintendence, I spent 15 years as a building-level leader, serving the state and national principal associations.

In addition, I speak, train, and coach on leadership topics, and taught as a graduate-level professor. My degrees are from Ohio University (BS in Education and Communication), Michigan State University (MA in Communication), and Eastern Michigan University (Ed.S and Ed.D in Education Leadership).

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

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


Jonno White

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

The most challenging aspect is wanting to make decisions that are best for students. It becomes even more difficult when your professional opinion and ethics might vary from some community stakeholders.

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

It is hard to briefly summarize this, as it has been a very long journey. However, I would say the quickest and most accurate summary would be that others saw me as a leader. They pushed, supported, and helped me find the confidence to pursue various roles.

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

I get up early and get to work early. I like to get into the office before others are there; this is my most productive time to work on projects. My days are usually filled with meetings, and if they are not, I work to connect with people.

Almost every day is filled with communication methods, especially written communication: emails, social media posts, newsletters, and the occasional blog if there is time. I usually spend a couple of hours with my husband and the dogs when there are no evening commitments or events.

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

I have learned so much about leadership from my parents. This summer, my husband and I were able to get away on a cruise. We had Captain Kate for our ship, and each morning she would end her update with a lesson from her mother.

This reminded me of how much I learned from my parents. I remember when I got my first leadership position, my mother told me then that it was important to know that it was impossible to make everyone happy and that if I was, I wasn’t probably doing a very good job.

That has always stuck with me, especially when making difficult decisions. I enjoyed the reminder that we can learn a lot from our parents. Hopefully, we are modeling great leadership, character, and even a saying here and there that our children learn from as well.

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?

There are so many, but Jon Gordon’s Energy Bus was instrumental in reminding me that our outlook is even more important than our actions. I have focused on limiting negativity in my life and focusing on all that I have to be grateful for.

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

Focus on selecting, building, and empowering an amazing team, for leadership is not work that can be done alone or in isolation.

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

I had a parent approach me at a community event and share with me that she was so happy that her daughter has a chance to see me in my leadership role and that there are not enough women in this role. I also learned that research suggests that the majority of our adolescent girls do not feel smart enough to pursue their dream job.

Since then, I have been working hard to support women in leadership through speaking, training, and mentoring. In addition, I want to make sure that our District works to be inclusive and support all students to pursue their dreams.

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