This is my 20th year in education. I'm now at my 8th school site. This sounds like a lot of movement as I write it down, but my career has encompassed a brand new school, a closing school, two schools simultaneously, two pregnancy leaves, going part-time, coming back as an interim principal, and finally landing at a uniquely special place called Beechwood School.
Along the way, I've been coached by great mentors, made lots of mistakes that helped me to grow, and every time I fulfilled my Girl Scout Promise to leave each place better than I found it.
Each school site has a uniquely different feel. One school was staunchly committed to maintaining the status quo. Teachers were blackballed from the staff room for trying new things, and the parking lot was desolate by 3:15 each day. One school was giant. It had over 1,200 students and 40 or so teachers. The staff meetings were clustered into small little cliques with highly intricate social rules and consequences for those who stepped out of line.
And now there's Beechwood; a place where innovation and learning among the staff is valued and shared. I certainly can't take credit for this. Both principals before me have left legacies of camaraderie and teamwork. However, I am purposeful in my actions to preserve and expand a culture of learning in a positive, collaborative work environment. These are my commitments:
- Own it!
- Demonstrate appreciation
- Encourage expanded professional learning networks (PLN)
- Design the physical environments of the lounge, office, and library
Ps. I love this TedxTalk from Mike Lawrence, "Reclaim the Teachers' Lounge"
The three principals of Beechwood School: Sue Faassen (1999-2005), Ramon Miramontes (2006-2012) and Julie Graham (2012 to present).