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Pushing a Rural District to Take Risks – Meet John Asplund, 2016 Leader to Learn From

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Published on Feb 24, 2016

When Superintendent John Asplund arrived to lead the Farmington school district in a struggling region of the Illinois farm belt, he brought a massive change with him: The word “yes.”

Yes to new paint. Yes to new classes. Yes to a smarter budget. Yes to a new parking lot. And yes to a giant solar panel project. Do you have an idea? Pitch it. At the very least, ask.

Asplund has been preaching—and practicing—the mantra of innovation, and encouraging the administrators and teachers who work in the district to take their own risks, and try new things. While encouraging the district to honor its rural heritage, he’s pushed his team of educators and the community at large to adapt to the dramatically shifting economic realities and to expose students to the skills and opportunities they’ll need to find their footing in an economy vastly different from when their parents graduated from high school.

“If things are good for kids, we should be doing it,” Asplund says. “You try to say ‘yes’ to as many things as you can because, even though we’re going to screw a lot of things up, we’re gonna learn from that mistake and we’re going to make it better the next time. Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country. More at http://leaders.edweek.org ____________________

Want more stories about schools across the nation, including the latest news and unique perspectives on education issues? Visit www.edweek.org.

About Education Week:
Education Week is America’s most trusted source of independent K-12 education news, analysis, and opinion. Our work serves to raise the level of understanding and discourse about education among school and district leaders, policymakers, researchers, teachers, and the public. Published by the nonprofit organization Editorial Projects in Education, Education Week has been providing award-winning coverage of the field for over 35 years.

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To license video footage from Editorial Projects in Education please contact the Education Week Library at library@epe.org.

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