Principal Difference

Redefining the High School Experience: A Trauma-Informed Approach

Guest post by Deborah Moya

What makes ABQ Charter Academy (ABQCA) different from any traditional high school or charter school? I believe our mission statement says it all: “The mission of ABQ Charter Academy is to redefine the high school experience.” Many of our scholars have had very negative experiences in traditional high schools. They seek to find a place where they belong, and we offer an environment that is centered on each individual scholar and their unique differences.  (more…)

Colony Time: Building Strong Student Advocate Groups

Guest post by Chris Fleming, Spence Rodman, and Regina Ross

In January of 2014, tragedy struck Lewisburg High School (LHS) when one of our students committed suicide. This event caused our school to take a deep look at how we, as students and staff, were connected to each other, and how we could build stronger relationships to guard against this ever occurring again. What our administrative team and staff developed is Colony Time, a school-wide initiative that helps individual students find their place in school and provides at least one adult advocate on whom they could lean in times of crisis and concern. (more…)

Taking Aim at the National Drug Epidemic: How One School Chose to Fight the Battle

Guest post by Robert Suman

In a suburban school district 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, school leaders in the Norwin School District took a proactive stance against one of the fastest-growing epidemics to sweep the country—opioid addiction.

In the last calendar year alone, Norwin has lost five recent graduates to this quiet killer and elected to pursue and implement a program to educate its student body.  Norwin personnel have come to realize that no one is immune to this epidemic, regardless of age, race, gender, or socio-economic status. We can take two courses of action—be proactive or be reactive. With a drug problem that is trending quickly in the wrong direction, we have elected to be proactive and take an active role in educating our students. (more…)

Hashtags & Chats: A Training Plan for Twitter Success, Part One

Guest post by Nicholas Indeglio

Before the emergence of the World Wide Web, competitive endurance athletes relied on magazine ads to find like-minded locals to train with, to compete against, and to engage as a race crew. The internet broadened that scope globally and now platforms like Strava, Zwift, and MapMyFitness provide slick user interfaces which allow athletes to connect virtually through shared workouts, weekly challenges, diet and nutrition, comment areas, and more. A whole new world of connectivity has emerged. Fortunately, similar networks exist for school leaders and the most powerful one is absolutely free. (more…)

5 Ways to Create a Supportive School Community

Guest post by Nathan Boyd

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a school principal is that children need to be in a relaxed state of mind in order to perform at their full potential. If students’ physical and emotional needs are not being met, their minds will not be ready to engage. Sounds obvious, right? Actually, creating the right conditions for students to learn is one of the biggest challenges for us as educators, because so many factors are beyond our immediate control. (more…)

Using Feedback to Foster a Collaborative Campus Culture

Guest post by Melissa King-Knowles

When I was a teacher, I started using feedback looping processes to survey my high school students about particular units and methods of assessment. I asked what they liked and didn’t like and sought input on my teaching practice. With their brutal (ahem, I mean beautiful) honesty, students brought me to my knees on a couple of occasions. (more…)

Answering the Call: A Journey in Advocacy

Guest post by Brandon Mowinkel

In a day and age where public schools seem to be under constant scrutiny, it is vital that principals become advocates for our schools and the students we serve, sharing our stories of success and the challenges we face. When I became an administrator, I would have never imagined that I would be in regular contact with my state and federal representatives to ensure a high-quality education for all students. Stories matter, and it is our responsibility to be sure they are being told. (more…)

21st-Century School Communication: Vlogging and Virtual Faculty Meetings 

Guest post by Carrie Jackson

Do you wonder whether or not all stakeholders on your campus clearly understand your expectations? For example, do all staff members, students, and families know your expectations for interactions with one another? For grading practices? For student arrival and dismissal?  (more…)

Understanding the Hidden Struggles of our Students and How We Can Help Them

Guest post by Amber Rudolph

Robin Williams once stated, “All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul, and they will never notice how broken you really are.” Sadly, these painful words mirrored Williams’ true feelings, as he succumbed to suicide after a long struggle with addiction and his mental health. Like Williams, many adolescents also mask their painful struggles with abuse, neglect, bullying, and other traumas. How do we as administrators create a supportive environment that addresses the often-hidden emotional lives of our students? (more…)

When School Is a Game, Nobody Wins

Guest post by Brian M. Stack

As school principals, most of us are measured by how many of our students “meet the standard” for getting to the next level, and therefore, we often focus first on making sure that failing students don’t fall too far behind. But what if this is the wrong metric and the wrong mentality? The fact is, the way we measure educational achievement today puts too much emphasis on staying above the bare minimum, rather than aiming as high as possible. And I’m not just talking about helping the most gifted students do even better. Too many of our students at all levels have figured out how to be “successful” without mastering all of the skills they actually need. If we are to truly advance learning in our schools, something needs to change, and it needs to change fast. (more…)