There are times when I was reading this book that I thought Dr. Jennings was writing about my experiences as a school superintendent and building administrator for over 20 years, and not his own. Superintendents ascend the ranks in education to champion for students. What they don’t tell you in graduate school is that the job is akin to a boxing ring. Ding. Ding. In one corner is the superintendent wearing the green “Student” shirt and in the other corner is the entire system, wearing red, gloves up -ready for a fight. You are all alone in your corner. There’s always someone waiting to jump in the ring to be your opponent, except you must remain. It should be simple, right? Who doesn’t want to put students first? You’ll see the competing interests after reading Dancing on the Skillet. Dr. Jennings provides a deep dive into the inner workings and the challenges of being a school superintendent in the 21st Century, in an honest manner, unlike anything I have read before.
As someone who has spent significant time in the chief school administrators seat, Dr. Jennings has provided an eyes wide open look at the immense challenges of being a school superintendent in the age of increased accountability, social media, and capped budgets. But with all of the pitfalls and struggles of the position, he makes clear the message: If you persevere, you can and will make a meaningful difference as a school leader.