2020-2021 Superintendents to Watch: Michael Vuckovich

Michael Vuckovich

Michael Vuckovich 

Superintendent of Schools
Indiana Area (Pa.) School District
Twitter: @Mr_Vuckovich @IndianaAreaSD


What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means that we have the opportunity to inspire others to grow and develop. I believe leaders have two main responsibilities: to provide hope and opportunity. You do not get the culture you preach, you get the culture that you practice, permit and promote. 

Leadership helps shape and create a culture that places the needs of our staff and students first. 

Leadership means that we have the courage to confront reality and be reflective in making change. After all, there are two things people hate: change and the way things are.

Leadership requires us to have the courage to embrace change and growth. It requires us to understand that if we want to close the achievement gap, we must start by closing the opportunity gap. When it comes to adversity, leaders are neither unique or exempt. Leadership means being hopeful when faced with adversity. This does not mean leaders ignore the reality of the situation, it means leaders have the hope, belief and faith to push through.

How have you integrated communication into your district’s strategic plan?

Upon my arrival, I met with a variety of stakeholders, and a desire for increased and improved communications was universal. As a result, we created a communications plan that was designed to do the following: 

  • Implement a communications program that directly helps the district achieve its strategic goals. Foster strong relationships with district stakeholders.
  • Provide focus and direction for messages/methods in support of the district’s goals.  
  • Enable the district to present itself accurately to audiences. 

Additionally, we created an Outreach Committee that includes board members, administration and families to assist in our efforts to connect and communicate with our families. This also allowed us time to gather and collect feedback from all parties as to what is working, what needs improvement and what we can do differently. Feedback matters, and the district needed the same sort of feedback in order to grow and develop our communication plan.

What communication initiative are you most proud of that have you implemented in your district?

I am most proud of the level of communication the district provided and is continuing to provide during the pandemic. We had to reengineer our reopening plans on a regular basis due to a variety of changes at the state and federal level. Flexibility and compassion were two of the main building blocks that we developed our plan around. There were numerous changes, obstacles and challenges we had to communicate to our families so they could plan accordingly. I am proud that we met the moment and the hard work seems to be paying off at the current time. Families are aware of our efforts, educational programming choices for their child and any changes or delays that may occur due to the pandemic.

What communication tool do you enjoy using the most in your profession? Why?

I still enjoy face-to-face interaction the most as it is authentic and real. Being a leader requires us to be a good listener. Sometimes the meaning of an issue can get lost or taken out of context when placed on social media and/or an email. Face-to-face communication is my preferred method, so I can truly take time to listen and respond accordingly. It allows me to make a personal connection easier than social media and email. It is much more personable for me. Social media is great, but it has become a place to validate our feelings and thoughts rather than to connect as it was originally designed to do.

How have you used social media in your strategic communication efforts?

I have used social media in our strategic communication efforts in the following ways: 

  • To develop and maintain positive, collaborative relationships with all stakeholders to strengthen support for the Indiana Area School District. 
  • To utilize a variety of media, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,  to maximize awareness and support of the district’s goals, objectives and programs.
  • To establish an effective employee communication plan to improve external communication and employee engagement. 
  • To achieve coordinated communications, both internally and externally, regarding safety issues and crisis management. 
  • To maintain a proactive media relations program to enhance the district’s image on local, state and national levels.