Janesville39.5°

School district considers way to get ahead

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
November 26, 2007
— Coaches pine for it. Bosses dream about it.

How, they ask themselves, can they get their organizations to The Next Level?


One local boss of about 1,400 employees hopes he has found a way.


Superintendent Tom Evert of the Janesville School District is sending 12 principals and other key leaders to a conference in Florida in hopes of lighting a fire of excellence that will burn its way through the school district.


The conference is run by The Studer Group, a nationally known consulting company founded by a former Janesville teacher, Quint Studer.


Studer and Evert have known each other for years. When they ran into each other last summer, Evert got interested in Studer’s ideas about managing an organization to produce motivated employees and superior results.


Evert attended a Studer seminar in Nashville to learn more.


Evert said he’s not the kind of person who comes home from conferences blown away by fancy talkers. But Nashville was different.


Evert saw something in the Studer method that he believes can work in a mid-sized school district.


Janesville has good schools, but it “needs to take the next step to be a great school district, and there is a lot of research from the world of business that ‘good’ can create complacency,” Evert said.


“Getting to ‘great’ requires jolting the system, setting fires, to get to the next level,” Evert said.


Evert said Studer offers a series of techniques and a philosophy that seem to energize an organization and improve communications with a focus on tangible results.


Studer discussed the seminar in a phone interview from his office in Pensacola, Fla.


“This will focus an awful lot on Tom and the principals, helping them build on their skill sets and seeing what areas they can improve on.”


Studer said most managers are people who were so good at their jobs that they were promoted into management, but they never receive much training in how to manage people. He also talks about creating a culture so that the superior results continue even when the personnel change.


Studer said his methods already are being used by some school districts, and they’re showing success.


Studer’s ideas are in great demand in the world of health care, so much so that there’s a waiting list to attend the seminars, Studer said. Studer doesn’t market his company to schools, but he asks his employees to donate time to help school districts.


Studer said he has selfish reasons for helping out in this case: He maintains strong ties to Janesville, not the least of which are his four Janesville grandchildren.


Evert said that if the Janesville trainees return from Pensacola with a favorable impression, he will go to the school board for approval of his next steps. Those would include getting all the key leaders in the district trained and forming a steering group that would come up with ways to apply the Studer ideas.


“We’ll see,” Evert said. “I’m optimistic.”


The details

The Janesville School District is sending administrators and others to a conference in Pensacola, Fla., Dec. 12-14. Here are some details:


-- Provider: The Studer Group, a Pensacola-based company run by former Janesville resident Quint Studer, which provides management and leadership training, mostly to health-care providers.


-- Costs: The Studer Group is waiving the $1,200-per-person fee and paying the airfare. The school district must come up with money for meals and lodging, estimated to cost about $5,000. Superintendent Tom Evert is hoping local businesses will help with part of that sum, and his discretionary fund will pay the rest.


-- Attendees: Minutes of a Nov. 13 superintendent’s advisory committee state that the group will include school board members Debra Kolste, Amy Rashkin and Bill Sodemann; director of human and administrative services Steve Johnson; Edison Middle School Principal Steve Sperry; Director of Instruction Donna Behn; Director of Student Services Karen Schulte; Craig High School Assistant Principal Alison Spiegel, Adams School Principal Kitty Grant; teachers Jennifer Fanning and Dave Parr, representing the Janesville Education Association, and Evert.


-- Notable: Quint Studer’s book, “Results that Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company To The Top,” just moved up to No. 10 on the Wall Street Journal’s list of top-selling books about business.


-- For more info: www.studergroup.com.
Read a previous story about Quint Studer.

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