“People won’t change the way they talk about schools until we change the way we talk about schools.

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo is the Superintendent of the Fall Creek School District in Fall Creek, WI. The Fall Creek School District was named an Innovative District in 2016 and 2017 by the International Center for Leadership in Education. Joe holds a BA in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from St. Norbert College, a masters in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a masters in Educational Leadership, and a PhD in Leadership, Learning, and Service from Cardinal Stritch University.   

Joe co-authored The Power of Branding-Telling Your School’s Story, Principal Professional Development: Leading Learning in a Digital Age, and Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students and Parents Love. He was selected as 1 of 117 Future Ready Superintendents in 2014 and 1 of 50 Superintendents as a Personalized Learning Leader in 2016 by the US Department of Education. He attended summits at the White House for both distinctions. Education Dive named Joe 1 of 5 K-12 administrators to watch in 2018 and their National Superintendent of the Year in 2019. He has been a featured speaker in multiple states in the areas of Advancing the Use of Social Media for School Leaders, Telling Your School Story, Creating a Culture of Yes, and Personalized Professional Growth for Staff.  

 

Key Thoughts from the Interview:

  • “In the absence of knowledge, people make it up.” Joe provides incredible insight on the power of branding and why schools need to embrace telling their story. Learn how Joe creates connections and forces engagement. We’ll forgive him for his comments regarding the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • A powerhouse of inspiration, Joe mentions that Inky Johnson is a person he can listen to every day. If you don’t know Inky’s story, don’t let another minute go by! Within the world of education, Joe also mentions that he “leans into” Jimmy Casas and Tom Murray and we couldn’t agree more.  
  • Interestingly, Joe discussed the one thing that we should be doing every day is listening more. He powerfully describes how he often gets caught up in the “next thing” and can overlook the moment. You have to hear what he also says about doing something a little scary.
  • Listen to what he says about reading. It’s awesome and totally about immersion and engagement.  
  • With whom do you surround yourself? Are you around individuals who push you to another level? Joe describes how to grow, find out just how simple it is if you are actually willing.
  • Joe’s final response on what he used to believe is a great example of doing what makes a difference versus doing things you think make a difference. 

Joe’s interview is a practical how-to interview. His suggestions on telling your story are simple yet profound. The story he tells of the young man bagging groceries is what it is all about. 

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Joe & T.J.