Be assertive, not aggressive. That's a lesson journalists learn early, and it's a trait William Andrekopoulos exudes as superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. So maybe it's not ironic that of all the things he could've been if not an educator, Edward R. Murrow comes to mind. "I thought of a career in broadcasting," he admits almost apologetically. "I kind of enjoy the media."
But Andrekopoulos need not apologize: he entered education 33 years ago in the Milwaukee system and for three years he's headed the district. Some of his biggest problems aren't in schools; Milwaukee's residents suffer from poverty and lack of health care.
"Our finances were eating us up," he says. Although it's been a hard balance of fiscal responsibility and program implementation, Andrekopoulos has done it by slowly moving Milwaukee from being "politically driven" to do things as they've always been done, to "mission driven"--finding new ways to face problems even when decisions are tough. "When you're about to close a school, people think about the present and the past," he says. "But [we need to] focus on the benefit to the system, the overall financial stability of the system."
Superintendent, Milwaukee Public Schools
Tenure: 3 years as superintendent; 30 years of prior experience
What he's reading: One Thing you Need to Know About BLANK by Markus Buckingham. He just read The World is Flat, and The Ice Cream Maker, but that one never even made it to his night stand: someone handed it to him before a recent business trip and by the end of the weekend, he was done.