Dr. Kelvin Adams – Superintendent Leadership


Dr. Kelvin Adams, Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, doesn’t have a magic formula for success, or why his leadership role within the St. Louis public school system has lasted for nearly fourteen years. If honesty, sincerity, and providing people with the correct information are magic, he’s happy to reveal those secrets.

“At the end of the day, it’s always about keeping kids first and making them the priority,” Adams said. He joined Dustin Odham to talk about his journey and reveal some best practices for superintendent leadership.

Dr. Adams recognizes at its core, being a superintendent is akin to being a business leader. In his line of work, that business is education. And while there can be a lot of noise coming from many sides, it’s crucial to filter that out to ensure the best education for the kids is always top of mind.

One sage bit of wisdom Dr. Adams offered when it comes to communication. “I never put anything in emails that I could not say to people in their face. People will hide behind that little button called send. And you can’t hide behind it.” Emails can be translated differently by many people in many ways. Talking directly to people helps navigate concerns precisely and quickly.

Leadership roles kept finding him throughout Dr. Adams’ career, even while he continually denied his abilities. It took him a while to recognize within himself the leader others saw. “I think it is about mentorship,” Dr. Adams said. “We must identify people and encourage them. And we must find the right people with the right hearts to do this.”

Dr. Adams believes in servant leadership, where to be a great leader, one must have served in the role they will someday lead. Superintendents are leaders who serve, and in this case, they serve the community.

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