Dr. John Strycker

Phone: 334.382.2665


Degrees and Certifications:

Dr. John Strycker

Superintendent's Weekly Update

July 11, 2019

School Community Update 

“Students: Customers or Clients?"

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with a community leader and employer about students.  The discussion turned into a bit of a disagreement as to who, as a school Superintendent, were my customers – students or employers.  I insisted that my customer and top priority were my students!  I have made it my lifelong mission to help young people develop into their full potential to achieve.  He insisted that my customers were the employers and that our job in schools was to teach knowledge and life skills to young people to develop a strong workforce who contributes to society.  We agreed to disagree and moved on. 

A couple weeks later, I reflected on our conversation during one of my morning runs.  I then recalled a point made during the conversation.  He said, “Your students are not your customers…they may be your clients, but they are not your customers.”

When I looked up the difference between a customer and client, I became more open to his point-of-view:

“Strictly defined, a customer is someone who buys goods or services from a store or business. The word "client" can also mean "customer," according to most dictionaries, but it has a separate definition as someone who receives professional servicesCron.com.

According to the definition above, I can see his point.  Maybe the students are clients in that they “receive professional services” from schools.  The customer could indeed be our community and employers in that “they buy goods or services,” so to speak.

Regardless of the definitions and semantics, our job in education is to prepare our students to achieve in life, which certainly includes being productive citizens with the knowledge and life skills to succeed and contribute to society. 

As we look to the 2019-20 school year, we will pursue yet a stronger relationship with local businesses and our Workforce Development team.  Part of this relationship will include a goal of teaching our younger students the life skills related to leadership and a strong work ethic.  We will then seek to further develop these life skills during the middle and high school years by getting our students involved in school activities and by teaching them specific workforce skills. I feel strongly, that if we do this well, our outcome will be students who can successfully enter the workforce directly or continue their education.  

I am encouraged by our community’s united effort to benefit both our clients and customers.