Paul Vandersteen: The power of permission

Paul Vandersteen on the better leaders better schools podcast
Better Leaders Better Schools guest Paul Vandersteen has been the science department chair at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois for 18 years.  The science department has 29 members, in two different buildings.  Paul has hired them all, along with others that have left to pursue other interests or relocated.  Paul was one of the original staff members when Neuqua Valley opened its doors in 1997.  He was instrumental in developing the climate and culture of the building and is the longest standing member of their instructional leadership team.   He received his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from North Central College and his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and Science Education at the University of Iowa.
Paul Vandersteen shares valuable insights on the podcast
Paul Vandersteen is also the head Men’s Cross Country coach.  His program started with 18 men in 1997 and has grown to as much as 168 members.  His teams have won two Illinois state titles and finished in the top 4 eight times in the last thirteen years.  He is happily married to his wife, Char, and has two children.  His daughter, Samantha, is a junior at the University of Nebraska and his son, Austin, is a junior at Neuqua Valley High School.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Discipline + hardwork + mentorship = leadership
  • Staying calm and collected are the keys to relationship building
  • The power of hiring the right people and how he runs interviews
  • Person-first leadership
  • Why you need to follow through
  • The importance of advocating for your people
  • The power of permission
  • How Paul grew his cross country team from 9 athletes to 168!
  • Learning from the best
  • Why leaders need to make personal connections
  • How to capture and publicize “memorable moments”
  • Leaders absorb pain; they don’t inflict it


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