“Ask a Leader” is an interview series with the country’s most forward-thinking public school superintendents in the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. In this series, superintendents speak to the backgrounds and motivations that drive their work, to inform and inspire the education community at large.

S1:E1 – “What Is Your Burning Yes?” – Steve Webb, Vancouver Public Schools

Dr. Steven Webb, superintendent of VPS since 2008, speaks to his personal challenges as a student, and how those challenges ground and fuel his work today. He urges leaders to reflect deeply on their “burning yes,” and above all else “lead and serve with love.”

S1:E2 – “Always Know Yourself” – Christine Johns, Utica Community Schools

Dr. Christine Johns, superintendent of Utica Community Schools since 2006, speaks to the power of “the right match,” discussing how her upbringing in Pittsburgh during the collapse of the steel industry uniquely equipped her to help navigate the challenges of the Great Recession in Utica, Michigan. Dr. Johns talks passionately about her mission to help students discover new skills and opportunities in school that prepare them for career success and agility in the future.

S1:E3 – “Do what you feel is right for kids” – Matt Akin, Piedmont City Schools

Dr. Matt Akin, superintendent of Piedmont City Schools since 2003, speaks to the work he has done in bringing competency-based education to his small rural district in Alabama. Dr. Akin believes in the power of empowering his students to pursue their interests and career paths, no matter where they are born.