About the Authors
Dr. Rick Jetter is an educational consultant, multi-genre author, speaker and trainer, and book writing coach. He works with school districts across the nation on curriculum, transforming school culture, and just about any type of PD for educators. Rick also specializes in narrative theory research when assisting schools or districts to improve their programs. Additional information about Rick Jetter (a.k.a. Dr. J.) can be found at www.rickjetter.com.
Rebecca Coda is the founder of the Digital Native Network and currently serves as a K-6 Director of Curriculum & Instruction in Cabot, Arkansas. She supports administrators, instructional specialists, interventionists, and teachers in aligning innovation, content, curriculum and pedagogy to create an inviting passionate environment conducive by leveraging academic achievement for all. You will find additional information about Rebecca Coda at www.rebeccacoda.com & www.digitalnativenetwork.net.
Rick and Rebecca (a.k.a. "R&R") are also featured weekly columnists for School Leaders Now where they provide advice for teachers and school leaders. Share your story with them.
I started out with a book concept in my mind for leaders . . . some kind of dunk-tank concept that would provide various narratives of public and private sector leaders in education, business, the military, etc. who faced adversarial conditions. I knew what I went through as a former school superintendent and I thought that there were others out there like me . . . leaders who had to face adversarial conditions which may have resulted in their career loss or career gain after rebuilding themselves. Maybe happy endings. Maybe not. But, stories worth telling and sharing with leaders everywhere. So, I started writing the manuscript, but when I got to the topics outside the field of education, I felt ill prepared. I didn’t have enough content. The manuscript wasn’t really working. I wasn’t qualified enough to wrap my brain around these other sectors. I contacted two of my author colleagues in the field of business to see if they would consider co-authoring a book with me . . . this quasi leadership dunk-tank thing . . . this concept that could be extrapolated across any industry, any field, any leadership position or facet of life. I believed that there were more stories out there that needed to be told. I just had to get my hands on them for my book. So, after a couple of calls and emails, my author colleagues’ plates were pretty full, already, and they couldn’t begin working on a new project. So, that’s when I decided to stick with what I know: education. From there, The Leadership Dunk Tank became The School Leader’s Dunk Tank. I created a book cover concept, a new table of contents, and then I started writing. I gathered some stories from colleagues in education—their own dunk tank experiences. Yet, something was missing. I needed another perspective. I needed someone who stood outside my own experiences to top off my work, wrestle with it, supplement it, plant it, and grow it in a different way. Then, something miraculous happened. I received a LinkedIn message from a woman who purchased my second published book, Sutures of the Mind. I will never forget it and I wished that I saved the message. The message was from a woman named, Rebecca Coda, and she was struggling with a dunk tank experience in education and she reached out to me to say thank you for my work on Sutures of the Mind. Her message was just so beautiful. It made my day. I showed my wife the message and we talked about how writing can really transport ideas, emotions, and power across state lines. From New York to Arizona. California to New Jersey. I was honored to ever have received such a nice message from someone who was simply a complete stranger to me. And . . . someone purchased one of my books and was reading it! To this day, Sutures of the Mind hasn’t sold many copies. It’s hard to market your book. It’s like a full time job. I think my mom bought one, but I’m not really sure. I think my publisher is mad at me, but I’m not really sure about that either. So, a few weeks went by and Rebecca and I shared a few messages back and forth about what she was going through in her job. We chatted by phone a couple of times too. Her story moved me. It saddened me too, but it moved me because I realized that there are school leaders everywhere, probably, who face adversarial conditions each and every single day, but there are few to no books written about how to deal with it . . . trudge through it . . . prevail. Then it hit me! Maybe SHE was the one who could teach me about more struggles taking place in the field. More leadership struggles. So, I started snooping around to find out more about Rebecca. I saw that she was an NBCT Teacher, a brilliant person, and had a website that was such an amazing resource for educators. I was really blown away by her career achievements and contributions. Yet, I knew nothing about educating or leading Arizonians or what it was like to be a school leader in Arizona. I’ve never even been to Arizona. I hear it’s hot there . . . like an oven . . . but this was all I knew. I guess leadership is the same no matter where you are—oven or igloo. The ideals of virtue, strength, and navigating through so much garbage is what school leaders have to do, like it or not. So, I started kicking around the idea of asking Rebecca if she would be interested in co-authoring the dunk-tank with me. She even sent me her resume. So, that’s how we met. And . . . we appreciated each other’s stories too. We respect each other’s leadership growth pains. So, we crafted this book in about two months. From there, the rest is history. If this book helps just one school leader to tread water, we have succeeded. We believe it will help more. So far, it has helped both of us while we wrote it. Two school leaders. We know we have two so far.
-Rick Jetter, Ph.D.