David Younce draws on more than twenty-five years of experience in large suburban and small rural school districts in the Midwest and northeast to lead and support other leaders.
David Younce is an experienced school superintendent with a demonstrated history of successfully leading in the primary/secondary education industry. He is skilled in public speaking, mentoring, public policy analysis, strategic planning, and change management. He is a strong educational leader with comprehensive suburban and rural experience and well-liked and respected by his peers and professional colleagues.
David Younce served previously as a Trustee for the Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA) for two years, as President-Elect for two years, and is currently the President of that statewide organization. His experiences in the President’s role during the COVID era have been impactful, working closely with the Vermont Secretary of Education and the leaders of other major state educational associations as Vermont navigated COVID and David Younce worked tirelessly to meet the needs of school districts, through both direct and political efforts.
David Younce is one of two elected representatives from Vermont serving from 2017-2023 on the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Governing Board, affording the opportunity to engage at the federal level in policy advocacy and leadership.
From 2017-2020, Vermont Governor Phil Scott appointed David Younce as the sole superintendent in the state to serve on the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators, which oversees all educator licensing in the state.
David’s colleagues recognized him as the Vermont Superintendent of the Year for 2020-2021 in recognition of a pattern of career service and contributions above and beyond to the field of education generally and more specifically to the benefit of the students of Vermont.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Mill River Unified Union School District (MRUUSD) is a school district headquartered in North Clarendon, Vermont. It serves, in addition to North Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Tinmouth, and Wallingford.
Foundational Beliefs include:
● All students feel respected, cared for, and loved.
● Educators feel valued, respected and supported.
● Students, educators and families work together to build
● Students know why they are learning.
● Students know what they are expected to learn.
● All learners have voice and choice in their pursuit of personal growth.
● Students and educators have ongoing, rigorous opportunities to learn.
● Educators believe in and model learning as a lifelong process.
● Educators communicate with families before, during, and after challenges and successes.
● The entire community benefits from the strengths of its students, staff and schools.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
No day is the same, really. Consistent patterns that emerge are:
● Some office time, usually early in the day, to manage communication. Always interrupted.
● Usual daily meetings with regional or statewide colleagues to calibrate responses to situations and provide feedback to each other
● 3-5 virtual meetings on any number of topics, usually involving people at a distance to limit travel
● 3-5 in person meetings throughout the day
● Ongoing decisions managing the HR side of our operation as we are a small employer (about 200 employees)
● Consultation with members of our leadership team focused on ensuring that systems are moving in the designed directions and working effectively
● 2-3 nights per week have school board meetings or school board committee meetings. These involve me supporting the board’s work as my role positions me as the district’s CEO.
● My job can be a 24/7 role. I have managed to limit that through experience and strategy with regard to time and expectation management.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Generally, I have success both with coming up with ideas or helping others to articulate them. From there, identifying the vision behind an idea and communicating it clearly is important. I am skilled with that verbally and visually. From there, ensuring that consensus exists and seeking explicit clarity of expectations and process is critical in order for ideas to ultimately come to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I tend not to focus on trends too much. I prefer things that are solid and hold up over time. I lean toward retro/vintage/classic concepts in that regard. I might even have an aversion to following trends too closely, because they are destined to change by nature. That said, I do like and appreciate that our world, as dysfunctional as it is, is creating more space for people to talk openly about mental health and trauma. So many people for so long have hidden or not sought or been able to seek to understand their past experiences and the impacts of those experiences on their day to day living. Our world is starting to create more space for that, and it is incredibly important.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am deliberate and organized by nature. I like to cross things off of a list indicating that I have completed them. I do the important things first so that they get done and am very uncomfortable procrastinating. Those traits can ultimately present themselves as habits. They’ve served me well.
What advice would you give your younger self?
● Manage your expectations and play the long game.
● Trust people and trust your instincts until either proves that you shouldn’t.
● Always speak your truth even when it is difficult.
● Watch out for your own pride and confidence, as they can be dangerous if not controlled.
● Listen more than you speak.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I overcome failures by relying on those who are supportive privately, keeping my head up so that I could be a role model for others, and focusing on doing good and consistent work to serve others. It takes time, but recovery from failure does come, albeit slowly. It’s a work in process.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I am a huge supporter of Tottenham Hotspur, an English football (soccer) club. I follow
soccer as an adult even though I never played it growing up. It’s been an enjoyable learning experience for me.
There is a team in Amsterdam called Ajax (which my team defeated a couple years back in one of the more glorious and memorable instances in club history) that just released a new jersey that is designed around the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds”. Marley actually was a huge Tottenham Hotspur supporter, but Ajax adopted that song as an anthem. This is more than you asked.
I ordered the jersey for myself about 2 weeks ago. I CAN NOT WAIT until it arrives. That was right at $100. Worth every penny. In case you are wondering, it is fully acceptable for me to buy a jersey from another country or league. I would never, ever purchase another English Premier League team jersey. That is blasphemy. Also, I can only do this because my wife is kind and supportive of my football/soccer jersey affliction.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
In my field, this answer may not be all that impactful given the type of business I am in. Most of my work is performed within the Google Suite. I also utilize an outside messaging system for mass emails and calls that is called School Messenger. That’s about as exciting as it gets.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am currently reading a book called Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, by Isabel Wilkerson. It is a fascinating overview of the connections between the Indian caste system, America’s history of slavery and ongoing racism, and the Third Reich in Germany, among other things. It is compelling and intense. Worth a read for sure.
What is your favorite quote?
Arne Duncan, former US Secretary of Education: “There are no good schools without good principals. It just doesn’t exist. And where you have good principals, great teachers come, stay, work hard and grow.”
● I do the important things first so that they get done and am very uncomfortable procrastinating.
● Ensuring that consensus exists and seeking explicit clarity of expectations and process is critical in order for ideas to ultimately come to fruition.
● I do like and appreciate that our world, as dysfunctional as it is, is creating more space for people to talk openly about mental health and trauma.
● Trust people and trust your instincts until either proves that you shouldn’t.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.