Friday, June 5, 2015
Superintendent Vitti and Asperger’s syndrome
A long time reader who has worked extensively with children who have autism and Asperger’s syndrome sent me a note. They said they watched the video of his commencement speech at Paxon high school and the first thing they thought of was, does superintendent Vitti has Asperger’s syndrome? The second was that it was painful to watch.
Now before we continue I think you should know that people with Asperger’s syndrome or on the autism spectrum can be highly intelligent, and successful in life. Often people think of rain man or worse. To learn more about it follow the link: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/asperger-syndrome
If you have met superintendent Vitti or seen him in public I don’t think it would be a stretch to say he has low affect, his facial expression rarely changes, he’s not very animated and comes off as quite stoic, and again there is nothing wrong with having those characteristics.
However all this reminded me of something I had heard from several principals and district staff and that is he does not try and build relationships with his subordinates. They said Ed Pratt Dannals would work the room asking about families, events and how things were going. Vitti on the other hand presents his information and leaves. One district staff member of some note, who sees Vitti at least monthly said, I am not sure if he even knows my name.
Now it’s true a boss does not need to be friends with their subordinates, however education is as much about relaying information as it is about building relationships. Think about those teachers you admired or learned from the best, most likely they also took a personal interest in you as well.
I think one of the main reasons I have been at least fairly successful is because of my relationships with my students, it creates buy in during those dog days when school bogs down or when we are covering subjects’ students might otherwise never do. It also helps with class room management. If a kid likes you they are less likely to disrupt the class and more likely to put in an effort to learn. Vitti to a lot of people doesn’t seem to understand the importance of these relationships either that or he does not care about forming them.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have relationships. He has cultivated close relationships with members of the city’s elite. People like the Bakers and Chartrands. It seems like when he got here he consciously decided to involve and court them while ignoring the staff in place. I said at a school board meeting a few months ago I wish he would have put in the same effort with the district staff that he did with the business community. Fifty million dollars, what the QEA is bringing to the district is nice but a staff that is motivated and has buy in is priceless.