Not many people begin on a journey at home succeeding and enjoying it all the way without barriers and limitations that would cause delays and serious setbacks. Some, not all, are aware that Northeast Ohio, city of Sandusky, Ohio, has two class acts that they can boast about: CEDAR POINT and DR. EUGENE SANDERS!
Not many years ago, Dr. Eugene Sanders started his humble beginnings on a path that took him south, east, and west of Sandusky, his hometown. His career started on a journey that would cause him to focus on his destiny as a young man growing up with parents who dared not lessen the impact, by way of empowering and charting his course that would lead him to right where he is today: Successful and Grateful! While he is modest and humble in speaking about his path, he knew that EDUCATION would become his launching pad to achieve greater things in life.
In a recent interview with this "giant", he shared a condensed digest about His Path, His Journey, and His Return Back Home. Dr. Sanders does not take credit for his successes in life. In fact he preferences the importance of having a strong faith in God, as well as God fearing parents who taught them to put God first in all that they do. He spoke passionately about his mother, father, and siblings and how they were taught to love others, give back, and care for the community. When asked about his path, he reveals his passion for education and how it shaped his destiny. He began his career as a Teacher in Sandusky and excelled to become a Building Principal, Professor and Chair of the Department in Organizational Leadership at BGSU for 8 years, Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools for 6 years, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan School District for 6 years, and Superintendent of Sandusky City Schools since 2012. . This matriculation tract has certainly placed this man in a class all by himself as it relates to "educating our children", and caring for community. He attributes his interest in Education to his older brother who planted a seed in him to become a Teacher. It appears that his journey has not always been easy but he wears it well enough to say that it has been worth it.
Dr. Sanders has been in Education for 37 years. He believes that he has only been able to achieve as much as he has, first of all, because of his foundation, as well as his connectedness, collaborations, and partnerships with other Leaders in the business, civic, and faith communities who invested in and allowed him to seed his vision into a worthwhile effort for the betterment of children. He was able, among other successes, to chart the course of "new and renovated schools" while serving as the Superintendent of Schools in Toledo. His hat is tipped to the Board of Education, teachers, Staff, community and parents for the support whom he believes, made it happen. He speaks highly of the memories that he has of Toledo while serving in his role as Superintendent . He is also given credit for moving the Cleveland Metropolitan School District from "academic watch to continuous improvement" during his first year as the CEO there.
It is not co-incidental that Dr. Sanders has and continues to draw the attention of educators nationally to his progressive academic premier approaches to educating children. He is a natural fit as it relates to innovation in education. He continues to provide Leadership and consultation around the country to many educators at all levels.
When asked what is the greatest challenge for him now in his return home, especially since he served as the CEO of two of the largest urban districts in Ohio, he simply jovially responds, well it's HOMETOWN and people feel a certain level of access. Sandusky is smaller. However, it has been more of a blessing for me. He believes that there is a greater standard held of Black Leaders than others , yet he feels good at being back home. The resources, allocations, budget, protocols and procedures are all different but he is able to manage effectively. However, he states that those other larger districts prepared him for his return back home. Fortunately, he is able to transition from serving as many as 60,000 students to a present number of 3500 in Sandusky. Dr. Sanders is committed to his work. He has been able to carefully make the shift by taking what he was able to master at the larger districts, along with what his mother and father taught him about people, and transcend all of the know how into being amicably even when unexpectedly grand moms and others who know him show up. In fact, he takes it all in stride.
When asked the question of Millennial leadership, he shared some thoughts: "I am concerned about the lack of appreciation for the past, the history, and the overly dependence upon technology, which lessens the ability to impact those around us with human contact. I hope that those who are on the rise will never forget the bridge that brought us over, and connect to individuals to help advance our cause. I pray that our future leaders are able to build upon the success of our past"!
Both of parents are deceased, with his father passing in 1981 and mother in 2015. He states that it has been challenging for him and he does not feel any comfort having felt the loss. He is home and serving with his brother in ministry for the last 10 years in an Assistant ministerial role. In fact he proudly boasts of the preparation for their 40 year celebration in 2018.
Dr. Eugene Sanders has achieved many milestones in his life and yet still values the friendships and partnerships with Toledo. It is no doubt in the minds of those of us who know this man, that he is not ready to entertain the relax mode of his life. He is committed to LEAD BY EXAMPLE, hopefully paving the way for those who work with him, beside him, and even from afar, to understand that Leading is not something that you say, it is WHAT YOU LIVE when you have been called to do it! Congratulations Dr. Sanders on jobs well done. May God continue to bless you and keep you!