Glass Half Full Honoring David James
GAR Foundation is honored to present David James, Superintendent of Akron Public Schools with the 2017 Glass Half Full Award. The annual Glass Half Full award was created to recognize Summit County community leaders for their inspiring and optimistic leadership of nonprofit organizations.
James is the 22nd chief executive of the Akron school system. Selected by the board of education in 2008, he oversees roughly 20,000 pupils, 3,000 employees, and operations of more than 50 school buildings. Under Mr. James’ guidance, APS has been designated as a Ford Next Generation Learning Community. Adopting the Ford NGL framework will help the district transition all high schools into the new College & Career Academies of Akron.
APS has partnered, under David James, with the LeBron James Family Foundation to offer the Wheels for Education and the I PROMISE programs for kids encouraging them to work hard, achieve and graduate. Taking this partnership to the next level, the district and the foundation forged an agreement to create the I PROMISE School, planning for which is underway.
David James has his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and his master’s degree, from Cleveland State University, in public administration. He is president of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the 2017 Ohio Superintendent Outstanding Performance Award from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.
In our interview with David, we set out to discover how he describes his work ethic and why the glass is always half full.
How would you describe your work ethic?
I am a middle son so I got dumped on growing up; too little to hang around my older brother who is 10 years my senior, my younger brother, by 1.5 years was a snitch. Plus my sister is seven years older than I am. In our house it was like having two sets of parents always telling me what to do. I just dive in and try to get things done.
Tell us something about your job that inspires you to keep working there.
Our teachers! People would be amazed at how the majority of our teachers come to work every day for the right reason: trying to make a difference in our children’s lives.
What is the last book you read?
An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger.
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
It would depend on my mood. I cook almost everything. I love to grill, so it could be as simple as burgers or as complex as leg of lamb gyros, or just a simple juicy steak. However, this comes to mind, prime rib roast with rosemary garlic red potatoes and grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon.
What reality show is a perfect match for your talents?
Fixer Upper because I love home remodeling projects.
Why is your glass always half full?
Life is too short to dwell on past mistakes and failures, tomorrow is another day. My parents always told us that what you get out of life is directly proportional to what you put in. I grew up in a house with a lot of laughter and humor so I tend to look on the bright side of things.