Building Culture

Leveraging Technology to Foster Gratitude

November is the month we most associate with gratitude. Giving thanks, spending time with families, and giving to others coupled with the natural opportunity to associate with a gratitude practice—it is woven into our personal and professional culture. It’s the time of year we hear the question “What are you thankful for?” more than ever. We ask it, and we share with one another our appreciation for their time, love, actions, and more. (more…)

Sometimes, It’s Personal

Each year as a secondary principal brings about new challenges, experiences, and opportunities, and this year in particular is very personal for me. My eldest daughter is a senior, and as cliched as it sounds, time has flown by. Just yesterday, my little girl was a month old as I took my first teaching job. Today, she is a senior walking the hallways on a countdown to graduation. It’s personal because while I need to be a principal for the 335 students at Milford High School, I also want to be a dad and enjoy all of the experiences that come with having a senior. (more…)

Nurturing a Culture of Gratitude

Each year in November, we take time as a middle level school to emphasize the importance of gratitude. While we are an international school, we build off the American holiday of Thanksgiving as a foundation for celebrating recognition and thanks. Abundant research connects gratitude with a sense of purpose and happiness, and focusing on gratitude is an important way to help meet students’ social-emotional needs. (more…)

Closing the Opportunity Gap in Rural Alaska

Chief Ivan Blunka School is a preK­–12 school located in the Alaska bush community of New Stuyahok. In New Stuyahok, hunting, fishing, and subsisting off the land aren’t hobbies but a necessity for survival due to the lack of traditional economic opportunities. Our community is only accessible by air or boat, and even then only when the weather cooperates. Everything we need to run our school, from toilet paper to textbooks, is flown in via single-engine aircraft. (more…)

Ways to Teach Resiliency

As I reflect on the years that I have been at Whaley School, we are graduating more students each year, we are offering more elective classes that tie into what students want to do after graduation, and our teachers are working hard to create amazing lessons in and out of the classroom—all things which help build resiliency in our students. (more…)

Principals Lead the Fight for a Diverse Teacher Workforce

Black students who have just one black teacher in elementary school are significantly more likely to graduate high school and attend college. Yet, the chances of a black student—or any student of color—having a teacher who looks like them are unacceptably slim. For high school principal Cory Cain, these numbers aren’t just a statistic, they were his reality. As a young black man growing up in Florida, Cory didn’t have a black teacher until his junior year of college. Now, as a principal, that experience is never far from his mind. He’s constantly thinking of new ways to recruit more people of color into education to ensure that his students benefit from a diverse faculty. During National Principals Month, Cory reflects on the key role principals can play in diversifying the teaching profession. (more…)

Principal, Parent, and Partner: The Balancing Act of a School Leader

When I was child, I always wanted to juggle like the showstoppers in the circus and on television. I mastered juggling two balls (not that impressive, I know) but when the third ball entered the mix, I couldn’t control it, and I looked like a clown in the worst sense of the word. As school leaders, we have to juggle all the time. We have our professional and personal roles, and sometimes we sacrifice one for the other, and that’s when everything starts crashing down. (more…)

Leading from the Heart, the Mind, and a Place of Stability

As school leaders, we often feel pulled in many different directions and it can be difficult to navigate where we should be leading from. We must be careful to stay grounded and lead from the right place—otherwise, as a line from my favorite musical goes, we could easily be like a ship blown from its mooring, adrift with plenty of work to do but no stability. (more…)

Congratulations to the 2020 National Principal of the Year

Each year, the NASSP National Principal of the Year program recognizes outstanding middle level and high school principals who have made amazing contributions to their profession and to students’ learning. Kerensa Wing, principal of Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, GA, is the 2020 national winner. (more…)

Leading Through the Struggle

We spend a great deal of time as school leaders talking about building culture. We often consider the day-to-day elements of this work: eating lunch with the kids, visiting classrooms, being visible at all kinds of school events, and having meaningful conversations with teachers and students. The work of leading a school and building a culture is much like leading a family, full of joy and, inevitably, pain. (more…)