Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol. 6, No.2-April 2008 ISSN: 1541-6224


Copyright © 2008 Pro>Active Publications. Used by permission.


Review of EIGHT AT THE TOP: A VIEW INSIDE PUBLIC EDUCATION. Gloria L. Johnston, Gwen E. Gross, Rene S. Townsend, Peggy Lynch, Patiricia B. Novotney, Benita Roberts, Lorraine Garey, Libia Gill. Lanham, Maryland and London: Scarecrow Press, 2002. 142 pp. Paper: $17.95. ISBN 0-8108-4215-7.

Everyone loves a good story and Eight at the Top: A View Inside Public Education shares the stories of eight successful female superintendents' personal and professional experiences, insights, and lessons learned. What began as a doctoral dissertation was expanded to ongoing discussions among eight female California superintendents. Their districts varied in size, as did their years of experience and career paths. What was consistent was their comm itment to share what they had learned with others. They believed that their discussions, reflections, and writing provided for their own professional growth, as well. The book is arranged around the five topics that emerged from conversations and writing sessions. These topics were expanded into chapters that offer stories from the careers of each superintendent. The chapters begin with the broad topics of: "Knowing Your Community", "Knowing Your Board", and "Knowing Your Organization and Its People." The last chapters narrow to the more personal topics of: '''Knowing Your Students"; and, "Knowing Yourself." Each chapter offers about fifteen illustrative stories. Chapters conclude with a list of succinct, summarizing thoughts labeled, "Lessons Learned." The first chapter focuses on the importance of knowing your community. A story about the prerequisite for applicants to research the community was expected; one about the backlash from community engineers regarding a "new math" adoption was familiar; and both of the stories relating experiences with media serve as cautionary tales. One story told of a community that established an organization that annually identified and recognized people who contributed to the community.