True Confessions of a High School Principal

Here’s a straight to the heart honest confession for you. Ready? Half the timeĀ I wonder if anything we’re evaluating, planning, changing, adding, and/orĀ eliminating is really going to make a difference. The other half of the time, the time spent reading everything I can get my hands or mouse on, I’m more and more convinced we’re on the right track. Today I came home from a meeting, firmly planted in the second half, the winning half.

We have a Regional Curriculum Council that meets monthly. It’s made up of school leaders from school districts across two BOCES, BOCES leaders, staff developers, and content specialists. We met this morning and I came back to school completely jazzed.

Our literacy initiatives are right in line with what all the research shows will help our kids. And the best part? We decided to head that way based on our own evaluation of our own kids. And we’re right. That feels good.

Scholastic’s Read 180 program was presented at today’s meeting. As I research reading programs, it’s hard to find something for my 9-12 kids. This may be it, if we can find the money. We’re already talking about blocking some of our classes, not all, just some and our ELA AIS and Remedial Reading would be a pair now.

High Schools New Face is happening again next summer and I’ll be able to go and help with the conference. That’s where I met Will Richardson and learned how to do this. And this has been a daily source of professional growth for me, one I wouldn’t give up if I had to.

What else? Our attendance rate is up, our scores are improving, and we’re keeping kids in school (but not necessarily graduating in four years). We have plans for improvement in scheduling with more instructional time and our literacy plan. AIS has been improved dramatically, our community college courses and electives are cooking, and the elementary and middle schools are sending us students who are better prepared every year.

So the next time I sound like I’m back in the first half, worrying that in the end it’ll all amount to nothin’, somebody please tell me to go read this post.

  1. Neil,

    I also am going to be working at High Schools New Face this summer—I’ve committed to doing anything they need me to do. I think the biggest thing that leaders need to know is something you’re already doing. That’s it’s up to us to model, to take steady steps forward, to LEAD with courage and principle. Too many of our colleagues are afraid to step out and take a stand and that’s precisely what we need in our leaders. I want to work for someone who’s got the courage to do what he or she believes in, I’ve had many “bosses” like this current and past. I want to know that my leader will “go to the wall” if it’s the right thing for kids, will be decisive, will show the way. You are clearly doing that now, you know exactly what our leaders need to know.

  2. Kim,
    NEVER doubt your work. I don’t know any educator that doesn’t feel some of the same frustrations. Validation does help. I met with Melissa and Colleen right after curriculum council- sorry I didn’t bump into you. I do have a question for you to think about. It seems that I will co-facilitate the leaders strand at new faces this summer. As a principal dedicated to excellence (and the use of the read/write web), what do you think leaders need to know?

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