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Fox Chapel Area School District
611 Field Club Road / Pittsburgh, PA 15238 / 412.963.9600

Superintendent’s Bookshelf


Reading and learning is important no matter your age or station in life. I, personally, have a great interest in reading. Below are some of the books that I have read and found helpful and important in guiding my decisions and thoughts in my leadership role as a school superintendent. From time to time I will also share some of the books that I read for personal pleasure. I look forward to sharing my insights with you in this way, and hope you will find them to be interesting.

 

"The Smartest Kids In The World" by Amanda Ripley

This is perhaps one of the most informative books I have read on education. Amanda uses real life student experiences (abroad) to shape and generate lessons for our public school system. She also does a great job storytelling and produces insights that are applicable to any educational system. The questions becomes do we have the will in America to make the changes. I highly recommend this book to everyone!

 

"Creative Intelligence" by Bruce Nussbaum

Offering insights from the spheres of anthropology, psychology, education, design, and business, "Creative Intelligence" by Bruce Nussbaum, a leading thinker, commentator, and curator on the subjects of design, creativity, and innovation, is the first book to identify and explore creative intelligence as a new form of cultural literacy and as a powerful method for problem-solving, driving innovation, and sparking start-up capitalism. (Amazon synopsis)

I found it interesting that the author defined creativity as a multiple-person endeavor. No one person becomes creative without the influence of his or her environment.

 

"Leadership On The Line" by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky

To lead is to live dangerously. It's romantic and exciting to think of leadership as all inspiration, decisive action, and rich rewards, but leading requires taking risks that can jeopardize your career and your personal life. It requires putting yourself on the line, disturbing the status quo, and surfacing hidden conflict. And when people resist and push back, there's a strong temptation to play it safe. Those who choose to lead plunge in, take the risks, and sometimes get burned. But it doesn't have to be that way say renowned leadership authorities Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky. In "Leadership On The Line," they show how it's possible to make a difference without getting "taken out" or pushed aside. They present everyday tools that give equal weight to the dangerous work of leading change and the critical importance of personal survival. Through vivid stories from all walks of life, the authors present straightforward strategies for navigating the perilous straits of leadership. Whether parent or politician, CEO or community activist, this practical book shows how you can exercise leadership and survive and thrive to enjoy the fruits of your labor. (Amazon synopsis)

Personally, "Leadership On The Line" is the best leadership book I have ever read. The authors give insights that are immediately applicable in today's work place. This is a must read, as far as I am concerned, for leaders.

 

"A Life of Picasso 3 book series: Early Years, The Painter of Modern Life, and The Triumphant Years" by John Richardson

The author draws from his close, personal relationship with Picasso and Picasso's family members to give the reader a profound understanding of the artist and his work. The three part series gives an in-depth view of Picasso's life and interactions with his family and other artists. It is an interesting and worthwhile read.

 

"The Opposable Mind" by Roger Martin

Instead of focusing on what exceptional leaders do, we need to understand and emulate how they think. Successful businesspeople engage in what Martin calls integrative thinking, creatively resolving the tension in opposing models by forming entirely new and superior ones. The book changed my thinking on many issues – most importantly, I have a more reflective approach to problem solving.

 

"The Myths of Creativity" by David Burkus

We tend to think of creativity in terms reminiscent of the ancient muses: divinely inspired, unpredictable, and bestowed upon a lucky few. But when our jobs challenge us to be creative on demand, we must develop novel, useful ideas that will keep our organizations competitive. "The Myths of Creativity" demystifies the processes that drive innovation. Based on the latest research into how creative individuals and firms succeed, David Burkus highlights the mistaken ideas that hold us back and shows us how anyone can embrace a practical approach, grounded in reality, to finding the best new ideas, projects, processes, and programs. (Amazon synopsis)

The author helps to overcome the creative "roadblocks" to find new ideas. Burkus debunks the idea that only certain people are creative. He demonstrates through examples that everyone can be creative.