School of Thought

Define a Collective Purpose to Guide Your School’s Culture

As school leaders, it is never too early to plan how you want to begin the next school year. In what manner can you galvanize your staff to start a new year? Many schools have a mission or a vision statement, but I want to challenge that notion. Why change or divert from this philosophy? Many of us in leadership could not recite our specific mission statements by memory. Many of us will have to dust off the document and read it again to refresh our memory. (more…)

Collaborative Practices to Hire for Excellence

A few weeks ago, at Montana’s State Administrator conference, I had the opportunity to listen to Jimmy Casas, author of Start. Right. Now.and Culturize. He asked a question that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. In talking about the importance of hiring quality teachers, he asked, “How do we train people on hiring committees to hire people for excellence?” (more…)

Advocacy Update: Secretary DeVos Defends the President’s Budget on Capitol Hill

Last week, Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before both the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittees to defend the Department of Education’s (ED) funding proposals in the FY 2020 President’s Budget. Both hearings were somewhat contentious, with Democrats pushing DeVos on many of the unpopular cuts to education programs made in the budget and Republicans praising the majority of the proposal. Overall, some policies and highlights emerged from both hearings: (more…)

Three Steps to Improve Teacher Performance

We have all read or heard research that concludes the teacher in the front of the room has the largest impact on student learning and performance. Therefore, as principals, we should be focused on helping our teachers to grow and improve. At Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools in Nebraska, we have implemented a successful process to do just this. Here are the three steps we take to improve teacher performance: (more…)

Using PPE Data to Advocate for Your School

As principals, you are focused on myriad issues that impact the function of your school on a daily basis; are school buses arriving on time, did the cafeteria receive its delivery, are your students safe. Despite all that you attend to, it’s natural to face some scrutiny from parents, administrators, and community members about how your school is doing. Starting next year, a significant change in available data about school funding could impact questions that you field about your school’s resources, and salaries for teachers, staff, and administrators. (more…)

Building Strong Relationships Within the School Community

It is my privilege to be one of the educational leaders in our rural community with a student enrollment of 400 fabulous kids! There is a magical atmosphere in our school, and though I cannot take all of the credit for our pizazz, I know that my role as a leader contributes to it. To me, the heart and soul of a school district is relationships. How can school leaders cultivate a culture that puts relationships at its center? Here are some of the ways that Timber Lake School promotes strong relationships among our students, staff, families, and the community. (more…)

Tell Your School’s Story on One Platform With Wakelet

At the start of the 2017–18 school year, I challenged our staff at Cedar Crest Middle School (CCMS) to tell the story of our school—to showcase the learning that was happening, the community that we were building, and the positive aspects of our school that were occurring every day—through social media. Our staff quickly took to Twitter and started to tweet regularly. It was awesome, and I was proud of our staff for embracing this challenge. (more…)

Three Self-Care Practices That Promote Work-Life Balance for School Leaders

As a school leader, I wear many hats. I am the instructional leader, a teacher of children and adults, a marriage counselor, a mediator, a social worker, a miracle worker, and an out-of-the-box thinker. I’m an email writer, a schedule master, a reminder, talent developer, disciplinarian, therapist, negotiator, mediator, and perpetual cheerleader. No two days are the same and a day is never dull, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (more…)

Announcing the Advocacy Champion of the Year

Tonight during the opening reception of the 2019 NASSP Advocacy Conference, Dan Richards, principal of Georgetown Middle High School in Georgetown, MA, was announced as the first-ever NASSP Advocacy Champion of the Year! (more…)

Education Suffers Severe Cuts in President Trump’s FY 2020 Budget

On March 11, President Trump released the FY 2020 President’s Budget, which includes proposed spending levels for the 2020–21 school year. Like in past budget proposals, the president called for steep cuts across the board to many non-defense discretionary programs, including education. Counting cuts to Pell Grants and all other education programs, the total cuts for the Department of Education (ED) would be $8.8 billion in FY 2020, or 12.5 percent lower than ED’s enacted FY 2019 budget. Many of NASSP’s priority programs would suffer cuts, while others would only receive level funding: (more…)