Today we talk with John Marschhausen, Superintendent of Hilliard City Schools in Ohio. He talks about servant-leadership, the importance of education, the benefits of a varied curriculum, and he shares some best practices for communicating effectively with students, parents, and the community. John is knowledgeable and inspiring and he’s got a lot to share. Take some notes!

“I really believe that public education is a silver bullet for everything that our country will face in the future. We have the opportunity each and every day and each and every class to shape and mold young people who are going to be our country’s leaders in 10, 20, 30 years. And that responsibility is just too important to not be passionate about it.” — Dr. John Marschhausen


“My mom and dad are really who instilled in me the idea of servant leadership.
… I grew up with role models who showed me that your job is more than a job, it’s a calling. And I don’t understand how people can go to work for 40, 50, 60 hours a week and not absolutely love what they do. And I absolutely love what I do in public education.” — Dr. John Marschhausen

Marschhausen highlights that schools need to engage parents, students, and community members in a myriad of levels­­ real mail, email, blogs, newspapers, social media, and in person communication. John has a coffee connection week where he will have coffee with community members to discuss face to face the business of the district, as well as any questions community members may have for him. You must continually innovate and there is not a single way to do things. Hilliard does its best to always seek a new way to engage the community, teach a subject, or provide opportunity for students.

“You have to continue to innovate and be creative and try new things…. What I am most proud of is that we are willing to try it and do it.”

At Hilliard’s Innovative Learning Center, they have a Rock Lab, where a particular student found a home. Prior to the opening of the ILC, this student was rarely present at school or engaged when he was in attendance. Within two years he received a full ride to college in a music production program. This student is not unique, every student has an interest, or a spark that educators need to tap into and find. The role of educators is to guide students to their passions, empowerment and ultimately success.

What BIG change would you make in public education?

John’s wish for public teaching would be to completely individualize education, and change the way we categorize students. Age, height, learning ability, focus and drive differs for every student. They are not the same and we need to find better ways to help our students grow, understanding that it’s not the same for everyone. Additionally, he believes we need to help students overcome obstacles, like socio­economic status.

“We have a lot of hard work. It’s too important to just keep doing what we’re doing. We have to keep pushing.”

Book Recommendations

1. Thinking Fast and Slow by­ Daniel Kahneman
A good book for a leader who is looking to be reflective and think about decision making.

2. Above the Line­ by Urban Meyer
An Ohio State Football coach reflecting on leadership and the role it plays in success.


Follow John Marschhausen on twitter: @drjcm