school culture

The Persistence Movement: Are We Teaching Perfection as The Ultimate Goal?

Think of the perfect student. Early to school, always respectful, never an issue, and top scores in every class. If you are fortunate to know students like this, they are diamonds in the rough. Despite appearances, these students are far from perfect. Perhaps they are neurotic before each test, they have little to no social life, or they cry if they lose a point. If perfection is truly unattainable, why do we teach it as the goal? (more…)

What Are You Grateful for this Thanksgiving?

One of my teachers sent the following email to our staff. The subject line was: “A Thanksgiving Thought.” With his permission, I am posting it below in its entirety: (more…)

Make the Most of Your Next Staff Meeting

Do you dread staff meetings as the principal? Does your staff audibly groan when you discuss policy changes or district minutia? Do you see your teachers watching the clock and counting down the minutes until they can leave? A few years ago, staff meetings at Harrisburg South Middle School were just this way, tedious gatherings that both the staff and I wished would just end as soon as possible. (more…)

Building Positive School Culture Through Senior Interviews

Guest post by Chuck Rinkes

When I became principal of River View High School (RVHS) in 2007, our building met the academic excellence standards, and our community was pleased by our high ranking. But despite these achievements, neither our superintendent nor I were happy with the overall building culture. We witnessed unhealthy interactions between our stakeholders, students expressed negative feelings about our school, and there was an overall sense of stress and anxiety amongst the staff. In order to rise to the next level and become a great school, we needed to improve our overall culture. (more…)

How Transition Meetings Can Help Schools Understand the Whole Student

Have you ever wondered what the new students in your school will be like? Will they be good at math? Will they be able to navigate technology effectively? Do they have proper parental support and guidance at home? If these questions cross your mind, then you may want to conduct meaningful transition meetings for your incoming students. (more…)

What’s the Forecast in Your School?

I am agnostic when it comes to weather. I acknowledge that it exists. But I don’t favor any one season. Some people like winter, some like summer. Each season offers unique rewards. I experience weather, but I have no great affinity for one climate over another. (more…)

What is the Title of Your Book?

After leaving a fulfilling job as principal of Pocomoke High School after six amazing years, I began to reminisce on the work that my team had accomplished together. I thought, what if we were to write a book on the work we had done? What would we entitle the book? What would be the theme of the book? And what would the focus of each chapter be? (more…)

Stick Around…It Gets Better!

This year marks the beginning of the seventh year of my second principalship. I’ve learned that years six through nine are where things really seem to come together for me as a school leader; it takes me that long to know the students, the community, and my staff to the depth that is needed to effect positive, long-term change and impact. The school culture at Owen County High School (OCHS) has really taken shape over the last half decade, and we look forward to “making hay while the sun shines” for the next few years. (more…)

New School Year, New Energy: Setting Realistic Goals

New Beginnings

Once upon a time, I had the greatest summer job ever: working at Seven Ranges Scout Reservation in east central Ohio. We were a bunch of teenagers and 20-somethings who got to exercise almost total creative control for the camp and its programming. Before the campers or full staff arrived on the reservation, leadership would sit down in front of a whiteboard and simply list all the needs, wants, and dreams for the year—and then go make it happen. (more…)

Student Voice and Choice Through Personalized Learning Time

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.

(more…)