Leadership shines in the midst of pandemic

Superintendent Osei leads community through unprecedented times


Noah Orloff

Superintendent Astein Osei speaks June 6 at Park’s 2019 Graduation. Osei said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the toughest challenges of his career.

Tobias Khabie

Throughout his entire career, Superintendent Astein Osei said he has never faced a task as daunting as leading a school district through a global pandemic. Despite the pressure put on his shoulders, Vice Principal Jessica Busse said Osei has shined under duress.

“The leadership under pressure and being able to process all the information (is remarkable), and he continues to amaze me by his ability to respond and connect with our stakeholders,” Busse said. “He is willing to give out his cell phone number (and) his email and it is very rare that he misses an email or doesn’t respond to an email. The ability for him to be able to make all of those connections is incredible.”

At the center of every decision that I’m making is the health and safety of students and staff. It’s also about the social, emotional and mental health and safety of our students and staff.

— Astein Osei

According to Osei, he values the communication between himself and the community, and makes himself available using various methods including monthly listening sessions for community members to voice their concerns.

“I tried to give people multiple ways to interact and get their questions answered and share their perspective, and part of me getting that perspective is holding those monthly listening sessions,” Osei said. “That’s the place for me to hear from people about (whether) what we’re doing is positively or negatively impacting their overall well-being.”

Busse said with every decision he makes, Osei focuses on the students and has their best interests in mind.

“He is unwaveringly all about students, and students are at the center, and that he wants what’s best for our district,” Busse said. “He is entirely himself, and that authentic nature that he shares with everyone is just impressive.” 

Osei said he takes into consideration not only the physical health of the community but also the mental health when he makes certain judgments.

“At the center of every decision that I’m making is the health and safety of students and staff”, Osei said. “It’s also about the social, emotional and mental health and safety of our students and staff.”

Besides his skilled communication, Busse said that Osei is able to bring the administration together to a united front in public despite inner conflicts in meetings. 

“We’ve had some pretty difficult meetings and we’ve disagreed with (Osei). One of the things that I appreciate in a leader and I appreciate about Superintendent Osei is that he is willing to always hear our side, and although he is our boss, he wants to hear our opinion and how we feel about things before he gives his opinion,” Busse said. “But when we go out in public, we’re together and we’re unified.”

Osei said he is able to establish unity by listening to those who disagree with him, as he feels that when people feel heard they are more likely to accept the final decision.

“If people have had a chance to express themselves, when it’s time to break the huddle, they’re less likely to try to sabotage (the unity), and I don’t believe anybody in this organization would ever do that, but at a time like this, if we’re not providing a consistent message, it only further creates confusion and already confused,” Osei said.

In times where many variables in life are unable to be controlled, Osei said something the district as a whole can help with is the well being of the students as they deal with the pandemic.

“The first thing that I want to do is just normalize those feelings, and the second thing I need to be doing and what we need to do as an organization is to better understand from a learning standpoint what’s at the core of those feelings,” Osei said. “I don’t think we can make it go away right because I don’t know that they’ll go away until the pandemic goes away, but we can try to find ways to mitigate those to how we facilitate learning.”