positive school culture

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…)

Five Reasons to Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Our world emphasizes teamwork, doing a job well, and being able to lead and follow—all skills students can learn and develop through extracurricular activities. Students who participate in extracurricular activities at my school in Montana have significantly higher GPAs and graduation rates than students who do not. Here are five reasons I encourage students at my school to participate in extracurricular activities: (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…)

Sometimes, It’s Personal

Each year as a secondary principal brings about new challenges, experiences, and opportunities, and this year in particular is very personal for me. My eldest daughter is a senior, and as cliched as it sounds, time has flown by. Just yesterday, my little girl was a month old as I took my first teaching job. Today, she is a senior walking the hallways on a countdown to graduation. It’s personal because while I need to be a principal for the 335 students at Milford High School, I also want to be a dad and enjoy all of the experiences that come with having a senior. (more…)

Reaching the Masses: Communicating With All Stakeholders

Why do you think companies like Apple and Nike have such a cult following? If you compare their products to their competitors, they are very similar—but these two companies are getting consumers to pay more for their product than their competitors are. Why? I believe the No. 1 reason is communication. These companies know how to communicate the “greatness” of their products. From iPhones to Air Jordans, we have been told we can “Think Different” and “Be like Mike” just by powering on their devices and lacing up their sneakers. In the world of education, we can learn a thing or two from these companies on how we communicate with our stakeholders. (more…)

Improving Staff Morale: One Simple Note at a Time

After 34 years in the education profession and 15 years at the same junior high school, I continue to be amazed at the fact the staff members still enjoy getting positive notes in their mailboxes about what they do at our school and for the students. Over the course of several years, I have altered or changed the process I have used for this positive messaging and modified how I did these messages to fit the personality or needs of each staff member. When you walk around our school you will see these notes attached or posted in each staff member’s room, by their desk, on the side of their computer monitor, or posted on a board behind their desk. (more…)

Building Positive School Culture Through Service Activities

Middle level students are at a crucial age, consciously developing their identities while trying to understand how they fit in with their peers. Teachers, administrators, and staff have the opportunity to provide a compass for students navigating these difficult times. As middle level students develop their sense of self, they often begin looking for ways to make an impact in their community. This materializes in a desire to pursue a cause, do fundraising, and participate in charities. (more…)

Creating a Culture of Nourishing Relationships

So much of the principalship is rooted in ever-evolving data, never-ending checklists, and meeting the needs of stakeholders. However, most know that true growth and success come from the ability to not only manage the aforementioned items, but also to create a culture that invites and nourishes relationships. During the infancy of my principalship, I have been pleasantly surprised at the growth of our school family. In reflection, sharing my why, inviting others to share theirs, and creating meaningful opportunities to grow relationships has made a profound difference. (more…)

Share Your Passion with Students: School-Wide Clubs

A maximal learning environment cannot exist without students feeling safe and connected with their teacher in the classroom. But teachers quickly get caught up with the demands of covering curriculum and meeting mandates. Most times, it is easier to conform to the system instead of infusing our individual personalities into our school lives. (more…)

Making Connections: Lighting a Fire in Your Staff and Students

I am not a camper, so I am in no way an expert on building a fire, but I do know (thanks to my high school science classes) that in order for fire to ignite, it needs three elements: heat, fuel and oxygen. On the flip side, being a school leader is something I do know, and culture is something that is talked about all over leadership blogs, articles, books, and tweets. Culture is way more than just a buzzword. Culture is the heart of a school, and the difference-maker between success and failure. (more…)