Podcast

Leaders Learning from Leaders Series

February 27th, 2024

Episode 6: A Conversation with Dr. Sherri Smith

Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators

Episode Transcript

Episode Summary

About Dr. Sherri Smith

Dr. Sherri Smith is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). Before her time at PASA, she served as Deputy Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Prior to providing leadership at the state level, Dr. Smith led the Lower Dauphin School District for 14 years as superintendent. In addition, Dr. Smith served as PASA President in 2014-15 and as a member of the Board of Governors. Dr. Smith received the Leadership in Public Education Award in 2017, one of the PASA Awards of Achievement.

Overview:

In this Leaders Learning from Leaders episode, host Steve Barkley interviews Dr. Sherri Smith, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA). Dr. Sherri Smith discusses the organization’s mission, goals, and the challenges and opportunities facing school leaders in Pennsylvania. PASA, a nonprofit organization, supports and cultivates school leaders across the Commonwealth, focusing on superintendents, assistant superintendents, central office administrators, and aspiring leaders. The organization advocates for quality education with legislators, provides professional development through webinars, conferences, and workshops, communicates statewide and federal education updates, and fosters networking among school leaders.

Podcast Summary:

Dr. Smith emphasizes the challenges facing superintendents, including building effective leadership teams, navigating increased politicization at the local school board level, addressing mental health and aggression among students, and managing teacher workforce shortages and burnout. Despite these challenges, she sees opportunities for innovation and creativity in education, advocating for outcome-focused policies over procedures and promoting collaboration among educators to meet the evolving needs of students.

Reflecting on her experience as a former superintendent and deputy secretary of elementary and secondary education, Dr. Smith underscores the importance of advocacy, collaboration, and community engagement in education leadership. She encourages aspiring leaders to lean on support networks, seek mentorship, and embrace the opportunity to make a positive impact on students and society.

Topics Included in the Episode:

  1. Mission and Goals of PASA: Dr. Smith explains PASA’s mission to support and cultivate school leaders in Pennsylvania through advocacy, professional development, communication, and networking.
  2. Challenges Facing Superintendents: The discussion highlights challenges such as building effective leadership teams, navigating politicization at the local level, addressing student mental health and aggression, and managing teacher workforce shortages and burnout.
  3. Opportunities for Innovation: Dr. Smith identifies opportunities for innovation and creativity in education, emphasizing the importance of outcome-focused policies, collaboration, and community engagement.
  4. Insights from State-Level Experience: Drawing from her experience at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Dr. Smith shares insights on advocacy, collaboration, and the importance of networking in education leadership.
  5. Encouragement for Aspiring Leaders: Dr. Smith encourages aspiring leaders to seek support, embrace challenges, and make a positive impact on students and society.

You can reach Dr. Smith directly via email ssmith@pasa-net.org.

Episode Highlights

 

Looking at problems as opportunities

Podcast Highlight – 2:44 mins

 

Always an educator

Podcast Highlight – 2:10 mins

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