Leadership skills are built through many scenarios. Dr. Diana Greene’s were most shaped during a life-changing time when she had to be a follower.
Greene’s oldest son, Aldon, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2. She had to rely on medical experts to cure her son. When doctors explained to her what they were doing and why, it helped Greene commit to their plan. She’s followed that same tack in her career as an educator and administrator.
“If I were going to do something different, I wouldn’t just say, ‘We’re doing this,’” Greene said. “I would give details, explain why we’re doing this and how this is going to benefit our school and our students.”
Communication is one of the many leadership skills that Greene brings since starting in July as Duval County Public Schools superintendent. For her, it’s been a homecoming, of sorts. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida and began her first teaching job in 1985 at Mamie Agnes Jones Elementary School in Baldwin.
Greene enjoyed her time at UNF, particularly the small classes that gave students in the same degree programs a chance to get to know each other and work together.
Becoming a teacher was akin to staying in the family business, Greene said. Her grandmother and father were educators. (Her dad became a teacher after he retired from the Air Force.) Eventually, she decided to become an administrator, which gave her more influence on what happens in classrooms.
Greene has already shown her leadership abilities since coming to Jacksonville. She immediately began talking about Team Duval, a phrase that she saw on the school district’s website that she now sees as a call to action for the community to help DCPS become an A school district.
When there was a fatal shooting after a Friday night football game, Greene made it clear that everyone should see the act as unacceptable. Children have to be a priority for the community, she said.
That will take leadership, something Greene learned a lot about as she watched Aldon, now 28, be successfully treated for leukemia. Since then, Greene has used those hard-earned lessons to advocate for countless children and help her fellow educators, something she will continue to do in her new role as superintendent.