school leadership

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…)

5 Ways Principals Can Promote Student Voice and Self-Advocacy

In my time as principal of Aztec High School in New Mexico, one of my main goals has been to promote a culture centered on student voice. I’m proud to say that our school values student voice and actively seeks out input from students to shape our academics, extracurricular programming, and building culture. And when a school shooting took the lives of two students in December 2017, our commitment to student voice became a vital component to our school community’s recovery. (more…)

Use the 2019 National Principals Conference to Push Your School Forward

During the 2013–14 school year, I was in my third year as assistant principal/registrar at Dubuque Senior High School. Our principal, Dr. Dan Johnson, was in his first year as principal after serving many years as a counselor and assistant principal at the school. Good things were happening at Dubuque Senior, and school culture was positive. However, we needed a push forward to help make everything come together. The 2014 NASSP Ignite Conference provided that push. (more…)

Assistant Principals: The Difference Makers

I was an assistant principal for 10 years. Those were some of the hardest but most rewarding years of my career. It seems fitting that April is the month that has been designated to recognize assistant principals. It can often be the craziest month with standardized testing, extracurricular activities, and elevated energy levels in the school building that often accompany the arrival of warmer weather. And assistant principals are invaluable at helping schools navigate the most challenging times. (more…)

Building Strong Relationships Within the School Community

It is my privilege to be one of the educational leaders in our rural community with a student enrollment of 400 fabulous kids! There is a magical atmosphere in our school, and though I cannot take all of the credit for our pizazz, I know that my role as a leader contributes to it. To me, the heart and soul of a school district is relationships. How can school leaders cultivate a culture that puts relationships at its center? Here are some of the ways that Timber Lake School promotes strong relationships among our students, staff, families, and the community. (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…)

What FOMO looks like at Glenpool High School

After attending the 2018 National Principals Conference, I had a renewed vision of what kind of school I wanted to give my students. As principal of Glenpool High School (GHS), I had always focused on building positive relationships with students, but I wanted to take it a step further. (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…)

It’s Not About You! Keeping Perspective During Difficult Conversations

A day in the life of a principal can be fraught with difficult discussions that require a careful approach. You have likely found yourself in a conversation which caused you to feel anxious, stressed, or even angry. Although these emotions are natural, they can limit your ability to see problems clearly and prevent your openness to different solutions. After experiencing numerous challenging interactions, I have realized that I need to find ways to focus on these conversations and remove any emotional response so that problems can be solved effectively. (more…)

Become the School’s Head Coach by Fostering Teacher Leadership

As a former coach, the value of team and usage of each person’s strengths has always been etched in the forefront of my thinking and planning. Now as a school leader, this same concept has been a driving force in my thought process. My field is my school, and my team is my teachers. Instead of winning a game or a title, our victories are measured by student success. Though my title says principal, to me I am nothing more than the school’s head coach. (more…)