Relationships

Leading Through Crisis

This fall, the Science Leadership Academy faced its biggest challenge in the 13-year history of the school. After leasing our charming but limited space for many years, we were scheduled to move into a refurbished co-located facility. This was a watershed moment for the district, as it marked the first time in recent memory that two existing schools—one citywide magnet and one neighborhood school—would be co-located in the same facility. The district was committing $23 million to the renovation, and it was seen as a potential roadmap for a district with many severely underutilized facilities. We’d spent the better part of two years preparing—designing the facility, getting to know each other’s faculty, and prepping for the students from both schools to get to know their new neighbors in a way that was powerful and positive. (more…)

Three Keys to Principals’ Changing Roles

When I first got into teaching, my principal’s role was very clearly to manage a building. Making sure staff showed up for work, the building was kept clean, and school rules were followed were the things he seemed to focus on—not what was being taught or how it was being taught. How students felt and getting parent support also did not play into the daily activities of my principal. (more…)

Building Relationships Between Students and Administrators

Many articles have been written about the importance of building relationships with students in the classroom, but what about us? How do we, as administrators, build relationships with students when we do not have them in class every day? It can be a little more challenging, but with some creativity, we can forge positive relationships just by having fun! (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…)

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…)

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…)

Learning From My Daughter: Unfiltered Feedback

Over the past three years, I have had an amazing opportunity to view my school in a different way as the principal to my daughter, Sidney. As you might expect, I think that she is a pretty amazing young lady, and I eagerly anticipated her sixth-grade year at Messalonskee Middle School (MMS). Before she started, Chuck Pullen, the tech education teacher at our school, told me that I would never look at MMS in the same way after she attended. How right he was! I have had hundreds of conversations about school with Sidney, and through those discussions, I have come to see MMS through her lens. (more…)

Making Student Connections: Will You Check on Me?

When a former colleague of mine, Joe Turner, was named teacher of the year, a reporter asked him for his advice to new teachers. He responded, “Teach every child like you’re their lifeline—like you’re their last chance to succeed.” (more…)

Student Discipline: It Takes More Than a Consequence

I vividly remember my middle level principal and the fear that hit my gut every time he would look at me or even walk by. He was six and a half feet tall, weighed close to 400 pounds, and his last name was Kevorkian. Who wouldn’t be afraid of that principal, especially if he never smiled and looked like he could be in the WWF as Andre the Giant’s tag-team partner? (more…)