District Leadership Lending a Helping Hand with Schools

Lynn Fuini-Hetten knows open communication with the community is vital for student success

Lynn Fuini-Hetten is the Assistant Superintendent of the Salisbury Township School District in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has worked her way up to her position, or as she says, “evolved” into it, having been employed in several positions in the district for the last 22 years. Over that time, Lynn has served as Supervisor of Instructional Practice, a middle school teacher, an instructional coach, and an assistant principal. Throughout the process, she has remained grateful for the opportunity to impact teaching, student learning, and professional learning in the district.

Kids in classLynn realizes an important part of her job is to be visible to the parents and students of the district. Whether it’s helping with morning drop off or using social media to keep the community aware, parents need reassurance and transparency from school leadership.

Open communication is a way for the community to understand the challenges facing the district and the solutions needed to overcome those challenges. The result is not only greater community enthusiasm but improved student performance and outcomes.

Rod Berger: Lynn, I’d like to dive into being an assistant superintendent and what that is like because I’ve been finding that, in general, district leadership is continuing to evolve not only in the skills that are required but the personalities.

We used to be a very static world in education, and we’re having to grow and change everyday just like our students. What is it like being in your role and how has that changed over time?

Lynn Fuini-Hetten: I’ve had a really unique opportunity. I’ve been in my school district for 22 years. I have actually moved up multiple positions to get here and I’ve also moved with my superintendent, colleague, and friend.

As that happened, we were able to evolve into our roles; and the job position also evolved. What I do now looks a little different from what a previous assistant superintendent did.

What looks different?

White Clouds on Sky and sunBasically, I touch almost everything in the district. I’ve had the opportunity to really impact teaching and learning, and professional learning. I work diligently with the superintendent and the business manager to refine the budget process; tap into HR issues and challenges we might have there; and work diligently to tell and promote the story about our district.

A key piece of my role ─ as well as the superintendent’s ─ is to get out into the community and greet the families in that morning drop off and make sure that we’re visible. We use social media to tell our story so that parents can look inside our classroom walls and so that our board can better understand what we’re doing, the challenges we face, the resources we need, and how we can best support our kids so that our kids can reach and meet the vision that we have identified in our profile of a graduate and our learning beliefs.

RB: Talk a little bit about that communication piece. I think it’s really key because, I think, for years you didn’t feel as connected to a superintendent. You didn’t know how you would ever interface.

But that seems to be changing rapidly in that even the types of people that are going after the superintendency as a role and a position are different.

LFH: I am very approachable. I try to get into all of our buildings once a week so that teachers can see me and students can see me. It’s not uncommon for students to know my name as assistant superintendent.

And that’s really different from the past because the job has evolved and, now, it’s as important as ever to really understand our clients and customers who are our students.

school busesI’m probably a little more of an extrovert that might be thinking about somebody who is looking at this role, somebody who is willing to walk up and down the aisles and shake people’s hands and say “hello” and introduce themselves when they’re sitting and waiting for a concert or greeting those parents and taking concerns in a bus line

In addition to interfacing with students and interfacing with teachers, working with parents and colleagues and being really supportive for ─

RB: It’s not a desk job.

LFH: I am not in my office much.

RB: Let’s close with this, Lynn. What issue do you see as the one that we’re not paying attention to that we need to from a leadership perspective?

LFH: I think we’re starting to have those conversations about teaching and learning and the technology. Lots of us have moved the barrier of access but don’t really know why and what we want to do with that.

I think a piece that leads into that is equity, in terms of providing opportunities for all of our students all the time. That’s something that we’re now really thinking about in our district.

About Lynn Fuini-Hetten:

Lynn Fuini-HettenLynn Fuini-Hetten is the Assistant Superintendent in the Salisbury Township School District. Prior to her work in this position, Lynn served as Supervisor of Instructional Practice, middle school teacher, instructional coach, instructional support teacher and assistant principal in the district. In her current role, Lynn is responsible for professional learning for all staff, supporting curriculum development, supervising the district’s virtual learning academy (VAST), and managing federal programs. Lynn has been an integral part in the success of Salisbury’s 1:1 teaching and learning initiative – Teaching and Learning 2020 (TL2020).

As a result of her work in the area of professional development, Salisbury Township School District was recently recognized nationally as a Project RED Signature District and an Apple Distinguished Program. Lynn was recognized in 2013-14 with a mini-grant from Learning Forward PA to provide professional development focused on leading the implementation of PA Core Standards for the administrative team. Lynn received a BS and an MS in elementary education from Kutztown University, principal certification from Penn State University, instructional technology certification from Kutztown University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Wilkes University.

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post.

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