school culture

You’ve Found Your “Why?” But What’s Your “How?”

If you’re reading this, my guess is that you and your school have crystallized a vision for why you do what you do—student learning outcomes, career pathway discovery, etc. In the case of Elk Grove High School (EGHS), our vision is to solidify America’s middle class by educating a generation of highly ethical, civic-minded, economically successful citizens who create a better future for all of us. (more…)

Carrying on the Tradition: Why I Became an Adviser

I knew the importance of NHS from my days as a student, and participating as an adviser is even more rewarding.

When I first came to my high school, I was asked to be a National Honor Society (NHS) adviser. I jumped at the chance, as I remembered being an NHS member myself and how it connected me to the community. I knew I wanted to make an impact with our chapter and put us on the map in our school—many of the students didn’t know what NHS was, let alone want to join. Now, 12 years later, we’re ingrained in our school’s culture, and younger students aspire to become members. (more…)

High School Academies: Finding a Place for Everyone

As an administrator at Lancaster High School, I am always seeking to help students find their place. In my experience, students perform at higher levels when they feel comfortable and a part of the school community. To provide these opportunities, our school has created academies that are tailored to certain career paths. We offer a variety of experiences so that students can choose an area that best fits the vocation they have in mind. (more…)

Character Education: It’s Not Something Added to The Plate. It Is the Plate

It was my first year teaching, and I was tidying up my classroom. I picked up trash under a desk and threw it away. The next day I noticed more trash under a desk. I watched for several days as the culprit would place trash under his desk and then leave it.  The next day, when my classroom offender got up to leave, once again leaving trash on the floor, I stopped him and asked him why he would leave his trash, he stated, “Oh, that’s the janitor’s job.” (more…)

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…)