school spirit

Creating FOMO Experiences

When I took over as principal of Powell High School in the suburban Knoxville community of Powell, TN, in 2015, I walked back into a building that, for the most part, had not changed since I graduated in 1992. Aesthetically, the building looked and smelled the same; yes, my 11th-grade locker was still in the same place with the same locker combination, and there were seven faculty members who had me in class. As I continued to transition into my new role and talked to our students, one thing became clear, and that was that Powell High School was not a fun place anymore. (more…)

Rethinking ‘Senior Moments’ in a Time of Cancelations

My oldest daughter is a senior, and I have been blessed to spend every day with her at school since she was a seventh grader. As we approached the last few months of her high school career, I couldn’t wait to share in those “senior moments” that create memories that last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the reality, enormity, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is more evident as every day passes and those events on our school calendars move from “postponed indefinitely” to “canceled.” My heart breaks. (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…)

The First 140 Characters

I was recently a guest on Lead the Way, a podcast for school leaders hosted by Bill Ziegler, and we got to talking about how I challenged my staff at Cedar Crest Middle School (CCMS) to begin telling the story of our school on social media at the start of the 2017–18 school year. But my own path down the road of social media technology isn’t very typical for a Digital Principal of the Year. It actually started with a single tweet. (more…)