A principal’s influence spreads far and wide—impacting students, faculty, staff, parents, and the entire community. I have been blessed to serve as a school administrator for the past twenty years. As the principal of Pottsgrove High School, I take this responsibility seriously and value the power I have to make a positive impact. I am constantly looking for ways to increase my influence and to expand opportunities for our students. I grow so much as a leader when I learn what other leaders are doing. I encourage you to check out how these leaders are expanding their reach, work, and opportunities for students.
When I was awarded the honor of being named the Assistant Principal of the Year in the state of Illinois, my local newspaper did a story on me. When they asked my principal about what made me a worthy recipient of this award, he responded, “[Tim] has a great ability to make connections with people, to relate to people.” His words caused me to reflect. Making connections with others always seemed natural to me, and I never really gave it much thought. But then the teacher in me kicked in and I started to wonder, can people learn to be better at making connections? How would we teach it? (more…)
Each year I invite our teachers at Montour High School to participate in the Shadow a Student Challenge. For one week, a group of teachers spends time following students around the building, attending their classes, and joining them in lunch, activities, and more. Afterward, the teachers and I get together and talk about their shadowing experiences. It was during one of these afternoon conversations that changed the direction of our school community for the better.
Guest post by Amber Schroering
After the recent Parkland shooting in Florida, I found myself sitting in church and couldn’t bring myself to sing. I just stood there, almost feeling numb, wondering how I could make a difference. I began to feel the same feelings creep in as I read and saw the extent to which our country is still divided over race and gender inequality. My hopelessness continued when a seventh-grade student came into my office because her dad had been arrested the night before after his inebriated girlfriend called the police and claimed domestic violence. The student said her father was punched in the nose, handcuffed, and arrested. And my feelings of despair hit rock bottom when Deputy Jake Pickett was shot and killed in the line of duty. His wife teaches at one of our elementary schools and he was a 2002 graduate of Brownsburg High School. (more…)
Guest post by Jack Baldermann
At Westmont High School (WHS)—a Title 1 school just outside Chicago, IL—our team has sustained tremendous growth and significant gains in student achievement. WHS continues to rank in the top 1 percent in Illinois and in the nation for its graduation rate. Over the past five years, 98.5 percent of our students have graduated on time, up from a 10-year average of 90 percent. For five years straight, 100 percent of Latino and African-American students at WHS have completed all graduation requirements on time. In addition, WHS can also claim one of the most improved and top performing AP programs in Illinois and in the nation.
What has caused our substantial growth and gains in student achievement? (more…)
Guest post by Kasey Teske
In secondary schools, the greatest untapped resource is our students. Most of our students care deeply about school and have numerous ideas about how to improve their campus community. But how often do we, as principals, involve students in our school improvement efforts? Do the students in our school even know our improvement priorities? Are they allowed to give input and help create our school improvement plans? I submit that the more principals give students a voice in their school, the more improvement will move in the right direction. (more…)
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…)
Guest post by Abbey Duggins and Amber Schroering
If you’ve spent any amount of time building a high school master schedule, you are familiar with the dreaded “singleton.” A singleton happens when just enough students sign up to create one section of a course—usually an AP or obscure world language—and it throws a major wrench into scheduling every other aspect of the student’s day. A singleton is a scheduling nightmare, but it is also a necessary part of education.
Many positions in instructional leadership can feel like a singleton: there is one superintendent, one principal, one coach. These positions are often lonely, lacking the camaraderie that classroom teachers develop among their peers through the common bonds of students, lesson planning, grading, shared hallways moments, and outside-of-school fun.
So what is a singleton to do? (more…)
Guest post by Amy Mims
When I became an assistant principal of Independence High School in Charlotte, NC, our school’s test scores were low. As I started observing classrooms, I saw talented teachers hard at work designing and delivering interesting lessons that utilized a number of instructional best practices. I also saw motivated students who were engaged in lessons, completed assignments, and did well on assessments. I wondered: What was causing our school’s low test scores? (more…)
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…)