School of Thought

A Start of School Like No Other

Beginning a new program and opening a new building would be a challenge for any school administration team, but doing so during a pandemic has provided many additional obstacles and unique situations. For this school year, I was extremely blessed to be assigned to our new freshman academy that we are beginning at Harrisburg High School. To host this new program, we built a new addition to our current high school. We added 18 new standard classrooms, four new special education rooms, a new media library, a new lunchroom, and two large common learning areas between the four “houses” assigned to our 415 incoming freshmen. It is a beautiful learning facility, and I am fortunate to be the lead administrator for this program. (more…)

Restorative Practices: Seven Steps for Facilitators and Mediators

By allowing students and adults to improve and repair relationships, restorative practices are key to a healthy school climate. The steps described below are designed to help facilitate a restorative practice session between two students, two adults, or one student and one adult in a small setting—such as an office or conference room. These steps can be used if the participants have no understanding or background or if they are well versed in restorative practices. (more…)

Perspective: Care for Adults so They Can Care for Children

As was the situation for many educators, I was on spring break in mid-March of 2020 when I received the news that students and staff would not be returning in person to our school buildings as a result of the COVID-10 pandemic. While the closure wasn’t surprising, the “now what,” feeling consumed my every emotion and thought. Would my students be OK away from their routines at school? What collaborative efforts were needed to support my teachers mentally and physically, to forge into whatever phases of teaching came next? Did we have the efficacy, as a staff, to overcome the barriers before us? My mind and time were consumed in planning mode. The problem was, I wasn’t sure what and how to plan—the variables were too vast and unpredictable. (more…)

Just Pick the Pineapple: Building Trust in Turbulence

At the veggie market on the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 216th Street in Queens, NY, my dad showed me how to pick a pineapple. He said, “It just has to smell like a pineapple and feel right, then it’s good to go.” I nodded in agreement, like I wanted him to really believe that I was following him and that I understood this wisdom. (more…)

Building a Successful and Sustainable Bullying Prevention Program

As we observe National Bullying Prevention Month in October, it is a great time for schools across the country to evaluate their bullying prevention strategies. The media attention around bullying has created a sense of resolve around the issue, and as a result there has been a call for action and demands for schools to do what they can to decrease bullying. (more…)

Meaningful Connection: Going Beyond the Virtual Classroom

I recently went to visit one of my students who lives in a migrant labor community near the border of our school district. This was already my 18th visit to a home in this area in the past three weeks. Going into this visit, I worried that students in this community were generally disinterested or unengaged in remote learning. (more…)

Richard Gordon Is NASSP’s 2021 National Principal of the Year

NASSP is excited to announce that Richard Gordon, principal of Paul Robeson High School for Human Services in Philadelphia, is the 2021 National Principal of the 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, and we are honored to recognize Principal Gordon with this award. (more…)

Crushed by the ‘No’

A few years back, the director of counseling and I brought in a group of high school leadership students. We tasked the students with developing a student workroom/support center. The only major job I assigned to both myself and the director was that no matter what questions came from the students, we had to start our response with a “yes.”  While the students fired off ideas that ranged from bowling alleys to giant slides, my director and I found we enjoyed the session. With big smiles, we crafted a yes response to every question. The students fed off our positivity and we found their student workrooms were not only were creative, but they became more practical the more we said yes. Through the process, we developed a student work center that serves as a gathering place for all students seeking academic support. (more…)

Self-Care Lessons From My Four-Year-Old

As an assistant principal, teachers come to me for advice about dealing with the difficult situations they face, many directly related to the sudden switch from in-person to virtual learning. The increased number of emails and demands upon teacher time that extend beyond the regular school day have created an additional layer of stress. Administrators need to be cognizant of this and make sure that our faculty are taken care of. However, we cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves. (more…)

5 Keys to Developing a Future-Driven School

This year has demonstrated in extraordinary ways that we’re preparing students for an unpredictable world. We can’t possibly envision the challenges and opportunities our students will experience in their lives beyond school. But we can know with certainty the world is changing rapidly and continuously, and we must prepare them for the unknown. While there may not be another COVID-19, there will be many surprising developments for the rising generation. We must prepare them to be confident, adaptable learners, no matter what they encounter. We can’t just focus on academic training in isolation and think that’s meeting their needs. It’s critical to have a larger vision that prepares students for the future, a vision that’s bigger than test scores, grades, diplomas, or mastering standards. My school’s Virtual Tour will focus on the keys to creating a future-driven approach to education. (more…)