Episode 91

Being a child with a superintendent parent (at your school!)

January 29, 2018 | Issues Facing Schools Today
Guest:Lindsey Imhoff

In this episode, host Joel Gagne speaks with Lindsey Imhoff, whose father Paul Imhoff serves as superintendent at Upper Arlington Schools near Columbus, Ohio. The two chat about being a child with a superintendent parent.

Being a child with a superintendent parent is a unique experience, carrying with it high expectations and a heightened role in the community.

Since Lindsey was 9 years old, her father, Paul, has been the superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools, a school district outside Columbus, Ohio.

“I told him when I was 14 years old that him being a superintendent wasn’t just his job, it was a family job,” says Lindsey, now a college freshman. “And I think that kind of really summarizes a lot of the experiences I’ve had.”

She says that no matter where she is within the community, whether in school or out in public, people are going to want to talk to her and ask about school and how it’s going.

“I just think there is a different set of expectations for the child of a superintendent,” she says. “There’s a part of you that grows up really fast just because you have to learn how to interact with adults, especially in a variety of social situations that a lot of other kids don’t necessarily have to.”

Joel says the family aspect of the job is under-appreciated by those who haven’t lived it.

He asks her about expectations inside the school, specifically.

“Obviously, just in any classroom, the teachers know who you are even if the students do not,” she says. “So I think that definitely puts pressure on you just because you know you have to behave better than everyone else in the room.”

Lindsey says her dad explicitly told her that if she got in trouble in school he would have to give her the maximum punishment.

“That definitely affected how I acted,” she says. “I could not afford to screw up, just because of how it would reflect on me and how it would reflect on my dad.”

In terms of benefits, Lindsey first cites snow days.

“Whenever your dad calls a snow day, you’re everyone’s best friend,” she says.

She also enjoyed being able to watch from the track at athletic events, and attending conferences around the country.

“I’ve been to Chicago every year since I was 10 years old,” she says. “I got to speak on a panel for several of those years about being the child of a superintendent.”

Sharing advice with others in her family’s position, Lindsey says it’s important to have a tight-knit family.

“If you are all really close, it’s going to work out no matter what,” she says.

Speaking to the work ethic of a superintendent, Lindsey says her father’s work is basically nonstop, from in-house meetings after school hours during a levy campaign to behind-the-scenes work on weekends.

“He does some form of work every day of the week,” she says. “He works incredibly hard and he doesn’t get the summer off, and he works on vacations even though he tries not to.”

Lindsey says she never felt backlash to a decision by her father, which Joel says is a credit to his leadership.

Lindsey, now a freshman at the University of Vermont, says public education is underappreciated in general.

“I think people need to remember that there’s a lot of educators that are working incredibly hard and very long hours throughout the year,” she says.

Lindsey wraps up the discussion by recommending the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

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