Community

The Poor Man’s Guide to Family Engagement in Our Schools

Guest post by Patrick Arguelles

Doing more with less

Virtually every school district in the nation is dealing with budget reductions. For most school leaders, there is little unjustified spending to cut, no easy targets, no low-hanging fruit. At the Early College Academy and Career Enrichment Center in Albuquerque, NM, we have examined our vision and mission and aligned budget expenditures to them. Challenged with sustaining the core function of our school—college and career readiness—yet also making budget reductions that could affect the educational experience necessary for student success, we stepped outside the box to scrutinize our options. Initial conversations were filled with lots of “less”—less materials and supplies, less technology, less PD, less electives, even less pay. What could we have more of that would not cost us any money? (more…)

Everyone Has a Story

Guest post by Brandon Mowinkel

The role of a principal is complex, tiring, and stressful, to say the least. Balancing the needs of your staff, students, school, and community can wear on you, especially as the school year winds down. Tensions seem to run high as patience wanes.

It is vital for principals to keep the focus where it needs to be—on the students. The demands of the job can pull us in various directions and our need to keep students at the forefront of what we do becomes muddled in the minutia of school life. Every principal must find a way to remember his “why” and continuously keep the focus on students and their learning. In my practice, I use three constant reminders to keep me focused on what matters most. (more…)

Igniting Every Student’s Spark of Genius

Guest post by Stephen Spahn

As chancellor of Dwight School for the last 50 years, I have had the distinct privilege of witnessing some of the more dramatic changes in education. As the world continues to be transformed at an unprecedented pace, we are living in a new age of educational enlightenment, challenging educators to assess, rethink, and innovate curricula as never before. (more…)

iCARE, Part Three: Helping Troubled Students Care

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to iCARE, and last week, I shared how this initiative has helped to unite our school community. In this final post, I will explore how iCARE has changed the way we work with our most difficult students.

In 2014, I inherited a unique sophomore class. Within the class there was a particular group of sophomores who were regarded as a notable challenge and needed a lot of TLC. As I got to know them, I realized that only a few of them were truly challenging and the rest were just looking to carve new titles for themselves among their peers. I hadn’t realized it yet, but iCARE was to become a saving factor for many of them and their sophomore academic and social careers. (more…)

Responding After a Student Death by Suicide

Guest post by Richard Lieberman

As a school psychologist with 40 years of experience in school crisis response, I have collaborated with many principals in the aftermath of tragic events that have impacted their schools and communities. I have found their leadership under such challenging and pressured circumstances to be admirable. However, many administrators are uncertain about how to respond after a student dies by suicide. Community members may believe that talking about suicide will put the idea into the heads of our students, but the research indicates that talking about suicide and taking action are the keys to prevention. (more…)

iCARE, Part Two: Uniting Our Community

Guest post by Thomas Kachadurian

In last week’s post, I discussed the beginnings of the iCARE program at Colonie Central High School and how it has given students an opportunity to make a difference in our school. This week, I will share how iCARE has grown and united our entire community around a variety of events that aim to serve others and build a positive culture. (more…)

Tips for Building Meaningful Connections With Students

Guest post by Kelly Parker

South Meadow School (SMS) in Peterborough, NH is guided by our vision: “A caring, cooperative, and respectful community of learners.” We are a family and work hard to instill values that will help students realize this vision by providing the support they need to be successful. One of the most important ways we guide students is by helping them connect to our school and one another in a positive way. We use the following guiding principles to nurture relationships and develop connections for all members of the SMS community: (more…)

The Happiness Advantage: Promoting Positivity in Schools

Guest post by Bart Peery

In January 2014, while shopping in our local Walmart, I received a voice mail from the county sheriff’s office. Assuming that it had to do with our school, I went to the school to call them back. When I returned the call, my life was forever changed. The officer told me that one of my students had taken her life. I remember sitting alone in my office sobbing, not knowing what to do next.  (more…)

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Crafting Meaningful Conversations With Our Stakeholders

Guest post by Chris Koch

A colleague with whom I’d shared a classroom once asked me what the toughest part was about being an administrator. The look on his face revealed his surprise at how quickly I answered, “Having meaningful conversations with staff, students, and parents.”

Several years ago, I was in a unique position. I was finishing my 18th year as a classroom teacher when my school hired me to take over as assistant principal. Despite widespread support, I now found myself having many conversations, some difficult, with the staff, students, and parents whom I had worked alongside or taught just months before. Over time, I began to recognize the importance of making sure that each conversation was mutually beneficial and acknowledging that these conversations were a critical component in building lasting relationships.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned (more…)

Advocating For School Safety

Less than two weeks ago, we watched in horror as one of the worst school shootings in American history unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—17 students and educators were killed and another 14 were wounded. Sadly, what should be a unique and isolated tragedy is just one more heartbreaking entry in our nation’s long and rapidly growing list of school shootings. At NASSP, one of our guiding principles is that school leaders and staff members, along with community members and leaders, have a shared responsibility to ensure that schools are safe. Our students have a right to attend schools without fear of violence, and we must do more to support a holistic approach to violence intervention and prevention both inside the walls of our schools and out in the community. (more…)