Patrick Darfler-Sweeney, '10 takes an active interest in educational questions that affect K-12 students. As a former superintendent and lead negotiator in a school district, he understands the inevitable personal feelings involved when making decisions that shape the lives of children, teachers, and families. Through his many years as a servant leader, Darfler-Sweeney learned what it means to be a thoughtful and effective administrator.
Recently, Darfler-Sweeney published a new book for aspiring superintendents, The Superintendent's Rulebook: A Guide to District-Level Leadership. The book serves as a professional development tool for education leaders that combines theory with real-world examples.
The structure of the book had been inspired by the popular television series NCIS, where the main protagonist Gibbs develops a code to live by (in the form of rules) that he shares with his colleagues. Darfler-Sweeney wrote his book to accomplish much of the same thing for education leaders. He presents a set of rules for superintendency based on situations that consume the most time and energy and cause the most stress on task for administrators.
He also wanted to present a more human side to superintendency. "It is a lonely perch," Darfler-Sweeney remarks. "No other position in a school district really prepares someone to be a superintendent."
During his career, Darfler-Sweeney never shied away from making significant changes to a curriculum or educational structure, a lesson he learned from his time in the Executive Ed.D program at Seton Hall. The program inspired him to embrace leadership and find ways to appeal to the various constituencies when taking on new initiatives. In his previous school district, Darfler-Sweeney cultivated a more digitally engaged student body and created opportunities for students to accrue college credit that carries over into their undergraduate careers.
Beyond instituting change, Darfler-Sweeney also makes it a point to be "a leader in the field not about the field." He understands the importance of keeping up to date with research and best practices while also developing strong professional relationships.
Although now retired as a superintendent, Darfler-Sweeney still serves his community as the Project Director for the University of the State of New York Research Fund. He is in charge of the Principal Preparation Initiative, which oversees and creates recommendations for seven K-12 pilot programs. The former superintendent was also recently invited to present at the New York State School Council of Superintendents Conference.
Learn more about the Executive Ed.D. in K-12 School Administration by visiting the program page.