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15 Best Public School Districts In the U.S. You Need to Know

15 Best Public School Districts In the U.S. You Need to Know

Do you have school-aged children? Are you trying to find the school districts in the U.S. where they will get the absolute best education possible? If it seems like your kids aren’t getting everything they should from their schools, there are districts where they will not only get the best education, but where they can also get into sports, community-based activities, and other family-friendly activities. Here are the 15 best school districts in the U.S. based on 2015 Niche Rankings.

1. Edgemont Union Free School District, Greenburgh Town, New York

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    • This school district ranks among the top in academics, and the teachers work with the students to ensure that they receive a top education.
    • When it comes to activities, kids can participate in a variety of clubs, music, art, community groups, and much more.
    • The sporting program is one of the best around, and students can take part in all of their favorite sports, from volleyball to football and more.

    2. Jericho Union Free School District, Oyster Bay Town, New York

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      • Parents and pupils surveyed on their experiences in this school district gave it a ranking of 4.4 out of 5.
      • The education offered in this district is second-to-none, and students graduate fully prepared for university or the work force.
      • This district is rich in family-friendly activities for learners and parents, and there are many school-based extra-curricular activities to take part in.

      3. Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania

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        • Ranked 4.3 out of 5 by parents and students, this school district provides kids with the education they deserve, as well as other activities to help them grow into well-rounded adults.
        • The teachers in this school district are among the best in the country, and receive high grades from students and their parents.
        • Extracurricular activities are highly encouraged, as well as fitness, and there are plenty of sporting activities learners can take part in.

        4. Lower Merion School District, Lower Merion, Pennsylvania

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          • If you are looking for a school district that is welcoming to pupils of all cultures and backgrounds, this district has what you want, with plenty of student culture and diversity.
          • Resources for learners and parents are numerous, and each school has resources and facilities to meet the needs of all students.
          • Health and safety of all pupils is a priority in this district, and the teachers and school administration staff take this aspect of education very seriously.

          5. Scarsdale Union Free School District, Scarsdale, New York

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            • Pupils receive the highest level of education, and the teachers are always willing to go that extra mile for their students.
            • There are plenty of resources for students who need tutoring, counseling, and other important services.
            • This is not a district that is rich in sports, although there are plenty of activities students can take part in.

            6. Great Neck Union Free School District, North Hempstead Town, New York

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              • Parents who want their children to study in schools where academics are on the highest end of the scale should consider this district.
              • The teachers were given a high score for their knowledge, sensitivity, and ability to relate to the students on their level.
              • Extra-curricular activities, sports, and community service are highly encouraged by district teachers and administration staff.

              7. Pittsford Central School District, Pittsford Town, New York

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                • Parents and students gave the district a ranking of 4.4 out of 5.
                • This school district provides learners with the education they need to get into the best universities in the U.S. and around the world.
                • Culture and diversity are encouraged, and you will find kids from many cultures studying side-by-side.

                8. Rye City School District, Rye, New York

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                  • This district gets one of the best rankings from kids and parents, with 4.6 out of a possible 5 points.
                  • You will find many resources to cater to all pupils, as well as numerous facilities for sports, recreation, and more.
                  • There is not as much student diversity and culture as with other school districts, but it more than makes up for this with the high level of student activities that are open to all students.

                  9. North Allegheny School District, McCandless Township, Pennsylvania

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                    • Ranked 4.3 out of 5, the district offers students an educational atmosphere that is challenging yet fulfilling.
                    • Kids graduate knowing that they have received one of the best educations in the country, and they are prepared for their lives as adults.
                    • This school district receives an A+ in just about all categories, from academics to extracurricular activities.

                    10. Chappaqua Central School District, New Castle Town, New York

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                      • Students are fully prepared for their SAT examinations, and often get some of the highest marks.
                      • Enjoy a rich variety of sports, clubs, and other activities that are geared to make all pupils feel welcome.

                      11. Dresden School District, Hanover Town, New Hampshire

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                        • Not only does this school district offer the highest standards for education, it is located in one of the most beautiful parts of the U.S.
                        • Parents and learners can expect to find teachers who want to see their students succeed, and go above and beyond to make sure that they do.
                        • Outdoor activities such as skiing in the winter and swimming in the summer are popular in this area, and New England is known for its amazing school sports teams.

                        12. Adlai E. Stevenson High School District No. 125, Vernon Township, Illinois

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                          • This district receives straight A’s all the way around, with some of the best resources for students and parents in the state.
                          • This district offers a great blend of academics, sports, and other activities so kids are well-rounded and learn many skills.
                          • Students enjoy a huge variety of extra-curricular activities, including sports (as players and spectators), student council, and more.

                          13. Manhasset Union Free School District, North Hamstead Town, New York

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                            • Teachers and administrators go out of their way to provide the best educational services possible, including tutoring and counseling.
                            • The health and well-being of students and teachers is of utmost concern, and you can be sure that any and all accommodations will be met for particular health needs.
                            • If the U.S. is a melting pot, then NYC is its capitol, and pupils in this district enjoy plenty of cultural diversity, and acceptance for all cultures, religions, etc.

                            14. San Marino Unified School District, San Marino, California

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                              • This isn’t an inner-city school district, and teachers are there to really work with your kids to ensure that they are fully prepared for life after high school.
                              • Sports and fitness are a priority, and there are plenty of sporting teams to join, as well as events to watch.
                              • If you are worried about the dangers of sending your kids to California schools, you should take a look at all this district has to offer, including a safe area to live and attend school.

                              15. Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, West Marlborough Township, Pennsylvania

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                                • This district offers a good blend of academia and activities, and kids and parents alike give this district a 4.2 out of 5 overall ranking.
                                • As far as academics go, your kids will have the highest level of learning possible when they attend schools in this district.
                                • Resources for pupils are abundant, and students can enjoy tutoring sessions, life counseling, career counseling, and much more.

                                Featured photo credit: Tom via flickr.com

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                                Jane Hurst

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                                Last Updated on June 18, 2019

                                5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

                                5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

                                It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

                                The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

                                With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

                                5 Types of Leadership Styles

                                I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

                                The Democratic Style

                                The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

                                The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

                                  The Autocratic Style

                                  The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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                                  The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

                                  While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

                                    The Transformational Style

                                    Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

                                    Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

                                    Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

                                      The Transactional Style

                                      Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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                                      The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

                                      The Laissez-Faire Style

                                      The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

                                      In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

                                      Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

                                      You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

                                      Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

                                      The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

                                      Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

                                      I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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                                      In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

                                      What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

                                      Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

                                      1. Context Matters

                                      Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

                                      2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

                                      When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

                                      As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

                                      “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

                                      The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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                                      As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

                                      When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

                                      The Way Forward

                                      To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

                                      As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

                                      “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

                                      The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

                                      If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

                                      Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

                                      Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

                                      More About Leadership

                                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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