school culture

Lessons Learned About Tolerance From a Walk in the Woods

There we were, crouched down on the side of a mountain, mesmerized by the view of a bull elk through the trees. My husband and I were about two feet apart, neither of us moving and both of us holding our breath in fear of alerting the majestic beast to our presence. And then, as only a married couple could, we started to argue.

“That’s a big bull,” I whispered. “It’s okay,” my husband replied, shrugging.

“It’s looking right at us,” I said. “No, it’s not,” he replied. “Its head is down, and he’s eating grass.”

“No, he’s looking right at me,” I asserted. (more…)

Building Momentum, the Jack Way

With the Lumberjacks as our mascot, the pride of R.A. Long High School dates back to 1927. Ninety-two years later, we have lifted the minds and spirits of our lumber town’s community with a true 97 percent graduation rate, with many students the first high school graduates in their family and the first to go on to college. We built that momentum, with little in the way of additional resources, through a coordinated series of programs and activities we call the Jack Way.  Here’s how: (more…)

Nurturing a Culture of Gratitude

Each year in November, we take time as a middle level school to emphasize the importance of gratitude. While we are an international school, we build off the American holiday of Thanksgiving as a foundation for celebrating recognition and thanks. Abundant research connects gratitude with a sense of purpose and happiness, and focusing on gratitude is an important way to help meet students’ social-emotional needs. (more…)

Six Steps to Jump-Start Personalized Learning

As education continues to change, so does the way we teach and how our students learn. Instead of the teachers being the holder of all information, our students now have the resources to drive their own learning. Personalizing learning for students allows students greater opportunities to control their learning and search for what suits them, and my Virtual Tour event focuses on what personalized learning looks like at Mason High School. (more…)

Congratulations to the 2020 National Principal of the Year

Each year, the NASSP National Principal of the Year program recognizes outstanding middle level and high school principals who have made amazing contributions to their profession and to students’ learning. Kerensa Wing, principal of Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, GA, is the 2020 national winner. (more…)

Four Questions to Ask Teachers on Creativity

How do you lead and model creativity? That’s a question many school leaders ask themselves. Many of us can get our arms around collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, but why is it that creativity is one area where we frequently struggle and sputter? I think it’s because we fear creativity—it doesn’t fall into a nice box that is neatly packaged with structure and details. You see, creativity is often messy, frequently busting the seams of our comfort zones and almost always requiring us to stretch and grow. (more…)

Making Student Connections: Will You Check on Me?

When a former colleague of mine, Joe Turner, was named teacher of the year, a reporter asked him for his advice to new teachers. He responded, “Teach every child like you’re their lifeline—like you’re their last chance to succeed.” (more…)

How We Can Make School Special

Last Halloween, I took my 8-year-old daughter, Juliet, to a Brooklyn Nets game. She had just started playing basketball and was so excited to go to her first professional game that she gave up trick-or-treating to do it. That’s dedication! (more…)

Supporting Staff is Built With Intention

I recently read a tweet by Dr. Bryan Pearlman detailing eight bad leadership traits. The accompanying graphic spoke to poor communicators and leaders who lack integrity, trust, and other important traits. But what tugged at me the most was the idea that poor leaders were “unsupportive.” How could any leader be unsupportive of their staff or their students? (more…)

How Will Your Staff Remember You?

If you’re an educational leader, you may have led (or will lead) hundreds if not thousands of teachers, counselors, librarians, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, registrars, bookkeepers, custodians, maintenance technicians, secretaries, bus drivers, and nurses. You are creating a legacy every day you come to work. You are leaving your mark—an indelible impression upon the educators entrusted to your care. How will your staff remember you?  I wonder… (more…)