Despite achieving his dream of becoming a superintendent, Johnnie Thomas (EdD ’10) constantly strives to better himself. He advises those interested in public service work to do the same.
Being in public service is very hard work. It takes dedication and determination. You have to be able to pull people together who have divergent thoughts and ideas in order to create good, sound foundational systems. I believe the key to creating these systems is to step away from top-down decision making, which should help to create collaborative environments that are reflective of how we work as a community. I’ve really tried to apply that principle not only to my operations as superintendent, but also in my daily life. It is a way to grow continually as a person.
I think you should never be satisfied with where you are. You should always be trying to find ways to grow and evolve. That way, you do not become stagnant. It’s important, I believe, to have that type of philosophy—ask questions, be inquisitive and think critically. If we bring those skills into our lives, we will also bring them to the lives of our students and the community.
By continuing to be a lifelong learner, we can understand things about our strengths and weaknesses. We can begin to work on those things instead of putting them off and saying, “This is how I am; this is how it’s going to be.” Those who keep an open mind are able to listen, and not only accept criticism, but grow from it.