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Why I support April Grace for State Superintendent

June 19, 2022

Before you become a school district superintendent, people tell you that you will be on an island. You’re the only one in your organization with that title. While that may be true of other people as well, they all answer to you. You may make deep abiding friendships, but ultimately, no matter how good your team is, you’re the one on the hook for the tough decisions.

When I became a superintendent seven years ago, one of my first challenges was to find colleagues with enough experience to help me get my feet on the ground. I wanted to befriend newly-appointed superintendents as well, since my neurotic fear was that I’d call up veteran superintendents and that they would laugh at my questions. (None did – at least not that I ever heard about.) I wanted to turn my island into an archipelago. 

I made a few close connections right away, and then the next year, when April Grace became a superintendent, we became good friends as well. Over the years, I’ve gathered a list of dozens of peers that I can call on a moment’s notice. Sometimes we plan around weather forecasts together. Sometimes we call to lift each other up during hard times.

When I have tough questions and want to process out loud with someone else whose perspective I respect, my first call is usually to April. She has been a teacher, coach, and principal. She had a long tenure running HR in one of the largest districts in the state. As I have, she has worked in urban, suburban, and rural school districts. She gets large budgets and complex organizations.

April is also usually the first person to call me up just to check on me when something bad happens. Her kindness and empathy put her in a separate class. She has given me invaluable advice; on occasion, she has even picked my brain for expertise.

In Oklahoma, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is an elected position. The state constitution lists no qualifiers for the position other than age and residency. As a life-long, fourth-generation Oklahoman, as a 29 year educator, and the son of a retired teacher, I’m looking for the candidate who I believe can help students, help public schools, and help communities thrive over the next four years.

That is why I will be voting for April Grace in the Republican Primary on June 28. 

April Grace speaking at Midwest City Rotary Club March 2022

Our statewide system of public education is complicated. No two districts are the same. April’s varied experiences will help her lead it. She has built a strong network of support with leaders throughout the state. She pays attention to details and understands the intricacies of school law. Most importantly, she cares.

I’ve said for years that most of us would rather do anything than pay attention to politics. That’s still true, even when public educators are under constant attacks from politicians. I don’t want to focus on any of that right now – just the person I believe is best-equipped to lead the system of public schools that we have in this state. April will lead us back from the pandemic years, work closely with the Legislature, and bring schools and parents together to work for the best interest of children.

Please vote on June 28. Do your research and pick a person with experience and integrity.

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