Student-centeredness

Building a Positive School Culture, The Sundevil Way

There are several components to building a positive school culture and multiple ways to go about it. Building culture never stops and is always in development—here’s how our school got started on our journey to create a cohesive, positive, kind, and caring culture. (more…)

Our Experiences Influence Our Leadership

Thirty years into my public education career, I am still in awe every day of the power of what we do. In 1848, Horace Mann claimed, “Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.” At a personal level, education can be a game changer, and principals are leading that charge. We level playing fields, remove barriers, and create hope. (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…)

Building Momentum, the Jack Way

With the Lumberjacks as our mascot, the pride of R.A. Long High School dates back to 1927. Ninety-two years later, we have lifted the minds and spirits of our lumber town’s community with a true 97 percent graduation rate, with many students the first high school graduates in their family and the first to go on to college. We built that momentum, with little in the way of additional resources, through a coordinated series of programs and activities we call the Jack Way.  Here’s how: (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)