RCS Impact Group Impacts ME

Part of my professional growth as an administrator has included shifting from my focus on building positive relationships with students to building positive relationships with faculty and staff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still about the kids but I realized about two years ago that I did a much better job of getting to know my students, of nurturing them and giving positive feedback, of showing an interest in and caring about them than I did my faculty and staff.  I just really love the kids and truly enjoy their company.

But as a superintendent, I really needed to make the transition. I now see my responsibility to every adult who works in the system in the same way that I see my responsibility to students–to expect and think the best of each and every one of them and to show it. I always believed that my students would do what I asked in the classroom or in the school as principal because I first showed them that I genuinely cared about them, expected the best of them, and wasn’t afraid to call them out on it when they failed to make good decisions. I continue to work hard every day to form relationships with the adults in our school, on our BOE, in our community: to see them as I’ve always seen our students, in the best possible light.

But I still miss the students. I don’t get a lot of F2F meetings with them now. There are times when I’m too tied to this desk and I walk through the school or over to the elementary school just to be with them. I keep the door to the hallway from my office open so that I’m accessible, but also so I can hear the students. I love the noise and commotion of our kids in the hall. But they don’t need to come and see me very often–there are others in our system who fill that role for them.

Every now and then though, I get a little piece of it back. One of our sophomores emailed me and asked if he could talk to me about the RCS Impact Group. I was happy to meet, but like most of my meetings, assumed it would be so that I could solve some problem or hear a complaint.

Instead three students, a sophomore, a senior and an eighth grader, along with a parent, came in to talk about the Impact group–get this–to ask what they could do to help at school. It’s a student led group and they meet with other kids one day per week during lunch periods for positive conversation, fellowship, prayer and support. They wanted me to know what they were doing and to talk about any possible service projects we might have at school. I found myself asking them questions, talking about different things at school, and just enjoying their company.

I am amazed at the level of leadership exhibited by these students. The eighth grader spoke with the wisdom of a much older girl showing an understanding of the “issues” her peers confront and still giggling like a 13 year old should.

They were like a breath of fresh air in this office in which much of the conversation focuses on budgets and numbers and layoffs and problem solving. I will think of them often and be reminded that the positive energy of our students is still what absolutely energizes me in this work. If I find that positive energy lacking in myself, I’ve only to open that door to the hallway and let the air blow through.

I wish every kid in our school could find a way to meet during lunch on Tuesdays with our Impact Group–I’m sure we have students who could use a little positive energy as much as I can!

  1. Pingback: RCS Recycling-A Small Step in the Right Direction | Randolph Writes

  2. Thank you for your positive interaction with this group of students. The Impact Club is long overdue and had met with some resistence last year. If we can’t offer time for our kids to get together and communiciate with one another on a different level than just passing in the hall or whatever, we are not preparing them for life outside the hallways. Teaching them that life is also about helping others, in a variety of different ways, is something they will use forever. Thanks for your commitment to our kids.

  3. As an intervention specialist (Ohio’s term for special ed teacher) I often find I have a harder time making connections with some of the other adults on staff. Give me the hardest kids and I will work through their behavior without ever taking anything personally. I have yet to learn that skill with adults…but I keep trying 🙂

    I always enjoy your blog and am glad to have you posting on a regular basis again.


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