Purpose and Structure of SELF

What is SELF?

The purpose of SELF is to provide superintendents the opportunity to engage with preeminent thinkers in discussions about critical issues of education, to reflect on the ideas presented by various scholars, to share their own experiences, and to apply what they have learned to the improvement of teaching and learning in their own districts.

Made possible through the generous ongoing support of grants from the Stuart Foundation, each year SELF receives nominations from participating superintendents for superintendents to participate in the SELF program. We select a cohort of approximately 20 superintendents. The selection criteria are based on the desire to achieve a mix of large and small; urban, suburban, and rural; and demographically representative districts.

The seminar structure comprises five, five-hour sessions over six or seven months. The last seminar is a retreat that is a day and a half.

SELF Guest Faculty

  • Michael Fullan
  • Marguerite Roza
  • Meredith Honig
  • Peter Senge
  • Norton Grub
  • Anthony Bryk
  • Richard Elmore
  • Patricia Gandara

Superintendents’ Experiences

David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools:

“The Superintendent Executive Leadership Forum (SELF) has been invaluable to me and many colleagues in northern California.  The experience of working in a cohort with colleagues, hearing from cutting edge researchers, and taking ideas back to our districts has helped us take a fresh look at our practice. My hat is off to the UC Davis faculty and staff for creating SELF in a way that reached out to practitioners and asked,

“What can we do to help improve your practice?”  They listened to us and crafted a program rich in intellectual rigor but down to earth enough to really meet our needs.”

Jonathan Raymond, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District

“SELF supported several ideas for improving teaching and learning that we are now exploring. One idea we are pursuing is the development of professional learning communities within our district, as was the subject of the Michael Fullan address… Also, we are beginning the process of implementing our own version of instructional rounds based on Richard Elmore’s research and adapted to the culture of our district…In terms of my own leadership skills, SELF reinforced my belief that leaders must be active agents in our own development if we are to become active agents in someone else’s development.”

Mark Geyer, Superintendent, Dry Creek Unified School District:

Two key concepts presented by guest lecturers became the premise for the reorganization of our district office: first, that collective learning predicts organizational performance (Elmore) and second, that cultural change occurs when power is decentralized (Reeves). As a result of this reorganization, principals in our district have been empowered to make the critical transition from site managers to educational leaders.”

Tony Roherick, Superintendent, Cabrillo Unified School District:

“SELF provided me two invaluable opportunities.  The first, to engage first-hand some of the preeminent researchers and analysts within the education community.  Second, to provide me a forum for meaningful dialogue with colleagues grappling with the same content within similar contexts.  This combination of content and discussion has deepened my ability to infuse effective leadership across our schools.”

Donald Gill, Superintendent, Antioch Unified School District

“I incorporate SELF research findings at every available opportunity to improve the academic outcomes of the students we serve. I consider the information I gained from the SELF presenters, the leading educational researchers in the world, to be a tremendous asset in my ongoing development as a superintendent focused on academic outcomes for students.”

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