It is expected that school superintendents push for excellence in their respective school districts. In a profession that resembles more of a lifestyle than a job, it isn’t surprising to see successful school superintendents push themselves in their personal lives as well.
Four local area school superintendents use distance running for just this purpose and this year’s 118th running of the Boston Marathon will be their personal measuring stick.
For Calvin Baker (Vail), David Woodall (Benson), Frank Davidson (Casa Grande), and Steve Poling (Herford), the personal goal of running in the Boston Marathon takes on event greater meaning in light of the tragedies at last year’s event.
“The marathon is an experience that is all about resilience. The hundreds of people whose lives were altered on Boylston Street that afternoon have shown incredible resilience, and we should all learn from their example,” Davidson states.
Baker, Woodall, and Davidson have completed many marathons together. They qualified for Boston by running the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN last summer. Along with running marathons in Tucson, St. George, UT and Portland, OR, they have also completed personal running challenges together including running from the North to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Poling has also run his share of marathons and, more recently, ultra marathons. The superintendents reference the principle of leading by example. They have a responsibility to model a healthy, active lifestyle to their communities, especially with the increasing problem of obesity in both children and adults.
Running also provides a great supply of metaphors for speeches and conversations with their staff. Woodall and Baker, whose districts are the top two ranking in Arizona, have stated that school improvement is much like running a marathon.
It requires a clear and ambitious goal, like a finish line 26 miles away, and thousands of steps. Maintain a steady, disciplined pace and make sure each step is in the right direction, and the long distance goal is attained. And, of course, running 26.2 miles can help to relieve a superintendent’s stress as well.
Baker states, “I’m depending on ‘Heartbreak Hill’ to take my mind off of school budget problems for just a few minutes.”