Interview with Jean-Claude Brizard

By Admin Account,  Jun 21, 2011

Below is a recent interview with Jean-Claude Brizard, the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools (former Superintendent of Rochester CSD).

Why did you choose to implement The Leader in Me process with Rochester City School District?
“The program is part of an overall belief system, that too often when you look at education we tend to focus on the adults and what they are doing, and seldom do we look at what the children are doing.  We don't look at their ownership of the work.  So when you look at The Leader in Me program, when you look at the process, it really is about empowerment, it really is about getting children to be up front and center and being sort of – not just forceful but owning and pushing and saying, this is about me.  I know you are here to help, but this is really about me, and I've got to own that, that particular work.”

Would you recommend this process to others, and why?
“Definitely would recommend this to anyone and everyone who is willing to go through a rigorous process to really improve the entire system.  It goes back to my fundamental belief that as educators we tend to forget the group that matters most, and that, that’s the children.  In schools where you see children really being the ones who are driving the work, you see 1) a level of self-esteem, 2) you find that discipline issues become nonexistent or a lot lower than they would be.  It connects to these positive behavior systems that we often talk about in terms of teaching kids the proper way to engage each other and, and, and the adults in a school.  So any superintendent, principal or teacher who’s looking to really improve the lives of young people, to really have them take ownership in their work, this is a phenomenal process for actually getting there.”

Five years from now… what will people be saying about The Leader in Me schools?
“I hope that the schools that have implemented this program are just rocking and rolling academically, and that you can walk into a building and you can feel the energy and the excitement around the fact that they are truly a family, there – the culture is clear and the beliefs are clearly articulated as you walk through the halls, as you have conversations with the principals, the teachers, the students, and even the parents, that you see student-centered learning going on in every classroom that you're in, you see students that are intrinsically motivated about getting an education, but they also understand their role as citizens within that school community, but also within the larger community.

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