Systems Thinking to Develop District Leaders

By: | January 5, 2019
District Name: Systems Thinking to Develop District Leaders
District State: Illinois
District Website:

For years, Meridian 223 in Illinois had rampant superintendent turnover, budget constraints and a lack of leadership. Administrators, therefore, sought out a system to foster principal leadership beyond typical school improvement models.

In 2014, the district looked toward the business world. It started using the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award framework for excellence. The district vision now is to “have world-class results while maintaining small-town values,” says Superintendent P.J. Caposey.

In the past, the process of posting open positions and interviewing applicants was different for every building and department. Now the process has been unified, and all new hires go through the same intake procedure, Caposey says.

Additional advances were made in measuring workplace engagement and district fundraising—from PTOs to booster clubs and school activities. The district now uses one modified version of the Gallup survey and uses results to drive the improvement efforts of the leadership team.

Administrators are also attacking issues that will lead to sustained improvement. “It is pretty powerful when the director of transportation is offering great advice to the leader of the junior high school on an academic initiative,” Caposey says.

Other benefits of the new system include comprehensive data tracking, higher AP and dual-credit completion rates, and an increase in electronic devices within the district.