AASA Central | Cory Steiner, Superintendent, Northern Cass School District 97, Hunter, N.D. and Robert Lech, Superintendent, Jamestown Public School, Jamestown N.D.
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Cory Steiner, Superintendent, Northern Cass School District 97, Hunter, N.D. and Robert Lech, Superintendent, Jamestown Public School, Jamestown N.D.

North Dakota: Leaders Matter

Nominated By: Aimee Copas, Executive Director, North Dakota Association of School Administrators

Cory Steiner, Superintendent, Northern Cass School District 97, Hunter, N.D.

Cory Steiner has had a stellar career in education, but one thing about Cory is that good enough has never been good enough.

Again, and again we’ve had conversations about the modality by which we are approaching education in the state with emphasis on seat time and a siloed approach to course work is NOT producing the types of individuals that our society and the future employers of our students want or need.

He believes that we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. As a result, Steiner was able to utilize an opportunity created through a legislative bill which allowed him to partner with his community and request a waiver of statute from the state with regard to some of the archaic structures of education such as the aforementioned and provide for the students a more customized and partnered approach to education. So, began the birth of the Jag Academy in Northern Cass Schools.

Exemplars of Leadership:

• Demonstrated exceptionally high standards for student achievement.
• Demonstrated leadership in lobbying for less restrictive statutory language.


Robert Lech, Superintendent, Jamestown Public School, Jamestown N.D.

Robert Lech (https://www.jamestown.k12.nd.us/about/superintendent) and his principals have a broad understanding of the very real fact that school culture and climate are one of the key indicators toward the opportunity for real success for our students.

With that knowledge in place, the Jamestown School District conducted a relationship mapping exercise for all 2,150 students across the district that mapped out the relationships between all students and all adults in their respective school buildings. This no-cost, high-impact strategy improved school culture and built positive relationships for students and staff. Lech has delivered presentations and offered a functional path for other districts to do this as well.

Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but we CAN help someone.” When we look at the behavioral and mental health struggles in our schools, it is not uncommon for us to grapple with ways that we can help our students with limited resources. What Lech and his colleagues have done through this enhanced effort with relationships is to help the adults be able to see beyond what they once saw with their kids. Extending a helping hand is an aspect of leadership that is so vital, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible effort when it is a shared effort.

Leaders add value to the world around them. Whether you’re leading a school or a company – building relationships – teaching others how to do that – and extending that helping hand is about positively impacting someone else’s life.

Exemplars of Leadership:

• Conducted relationship mapping to better understand the relationship between students and their school.
• Addressed complex barriers to achievement experienced by some student.
• Built productive relationships with staff and community.


To learn more about the superintendents profiled in AASA’s Leaders Matter campaign, visit http://aasacentral.org/leadersmatter/. To join the conversation via Twitter, please access #LeadersMatter.

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