Meet Phil Schlechty
Phil Schlechty came out of a background as fundamental as an Ohio farm and as lofty as The Ohio State University. He was an exceptional speaker, thinker, writer, and leader. He had deep, abiding passions for equity, excellence, the public schools, and American democracy. Reading any of his books makes this clear.
Phil was a synthesizer and connector. He often said that he "stands on the shoulders of giants" to whom he owes a great debt—thinkers and writers in the fields of history, sociology, education, and business, primarily. His ability to draw upon such diverse sources of inspiration and to develop coherence among them around issues of kids, schools, communities, and leadership, was a unique talent.
Phil was a skillful, entrepreneurial leader. At the Schlechty Center he assembled an energetic group of talented professionals, challenged them to develop their unique talents in building the organization and serving its customers, and then supported them aggressively in their work.
Phil was a storyteller, and his stories (often quite funny) were usually metaphorical, linked to some important point about why, and how, schools might be transformed. He bridged disciplines, cultures, and points of view comfortably and with keen insight. He taught us all how to do that. He led by example and by asking "What if…?" questions.
A state legislator once said to him, "Son, you have a way of being able to get the hay down to the ponies." That was Phil in a nutshell.
Phil was up and writing every morning around 4:30 (the same time he once got up to milk the cows before school). That's when and how he thought best. And it is exactly what he was doing the morning his body failed him.
Phil passed away on Thursday, January 7, 2016. For more about Phil's impact, read this wonderful tribute article by Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
Phil's Life Question
This video is a very short clip where Phil describes the question that guides his life's work.
There is a 0% chance that children will learn from work they do not do.
What we need are schools organized in ways that put the joy back into teaching and that do not confuse rigor with rigor mortis.
Given wisdom, leaders stop trying to control everything and stop taking charge of everyone and see themselves as one part of a complex operation.