After 35 years in education, curriculum coordinator Jeffrey Linton faced mandatory retirement. "But I was 57, I still felt young and vital, and I thought I was too young to stop working entirely," he says. Wanting to enjoy some benefits of retirement while still maintaining a connection to education, Linton found the ideal position-as a part-time superintendent.
Linton grew up in New Britain, Conn., attended Hobart College, and returned to Connecticut to teach middle school social studies and history in the town of Avon. Over the next 19 years, he went on to teach high school history, coach sports, and organize student council and summer day camps.
Linton's interest in administration inspired him to complete a master's degree in educational administration and supervision at Trinity College and the University of Connecticut. He became a high school assistant principal in Avon, but budgetary issues caused him to be reassigned to the middle school and then the elementary school within just three years. In 1992, he moved to the district level, becoming director of curriculum and instruction for nearby Regional District 10, which includes nearly 3,000 students and serves two towns outside Hartford, a post he held for 13 years. "It was during that time that I encountered the educational use of computers and the Internet, and within seven years, we had placed multiple computers in every classroom and moved our curriculum, lessons and grade books online," he says.
When Linton was beginning his retirement in 2005, the nearby Barkhamsted School, a K6 school that comprises a tiny district with just 340 students in the town of Pleasant Valley, was looking for a new superintendent. Filling the position was challenging, since the district is so small, and its office of superintendent is part-time. For Linton this was a perfect fit. In order to keep his retirement benefits, he was not allowed to work more than 40 percent of full time. Linton was also a perfect fit for the district, which was fortunate to find an administrator from a larger district with experience in a variety of positions. "I also didn't want to move, and Barkhamsted is just a 15-minute drive away from my home, he says.
Pros and Cons
Being a part-time, small-district superintendent has challenges and rewards. "It can be a struggle, continually trying to do the best job I can and make sure I'm not working more than part-time," says Linton. The limited resources of a small district are also a challenge, especially for Linton, who came from a district nearly 10 times the size of Barkhamsted. "Funding, particularly for technology, is tight, so we have to be creative," he says. Linton is always seeking out grants, and relies on his staff collaborating with one another for new training, as the district cannot afford its own technology staff and shares IT personnel with a neighboring district.
But he also appreciates the benefits of working in a small environment. "I really enjoy having regular, personal interactions with all of my staff members," he adds, noting that he is able to have a close mentoring relationship with his principal, 25 teachers, and 17 noncertified employees.
Service and Learning
Semi-retirement also affords Linton more time with family, and to volunteer. He recently became president of the 1,200- member CASCD, the Connecticut chapter of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, after serving on the board for the past 10 years. "CASCD is basically an education think tank," says Linton. "We provide research, conferences, workshops and other resources for educators."
After a long career in education, Linton is still learning. "Through my tenures at the CASCD and at Barkhamsted, I have realized that many of the challenges we face in a small district are common to districts of any size."
Kurt O. Dyrli is a contributing writer for District Administration.