A Note from Carol

I didn’t really know what to expect when my superintendent asked me to become a principal. I worked with teachers extensively and with parent advisory groups. My first day at the school was one of pure joy…a chance to be with students again. My day began with the pledge and some inspiring words for all students. From my work with teachers I knew it was important to work collaboratively with a school leadership team…to set goals, establish high expectations, share some responsibilities, and problem-solve solutions to promote student achievement. With the students, it was great to have conversations to help them reach their goals or help them come up with ways to solve their problems. I quickly re-established the school improvement council to engage parents in our school community.

I never thought I would be a principal, because I didn’t want to be an assistant principal. However, my experience as an assistant principal showed me the importance of having a respectful school climate and working with students to help them resolve behavioral issues or meet academic challenges. One of my favorite stories is about working with a group of 5th-grade boys who were arguing at recess and lunch about one of their games. Together we worked on establishing the game rules, monitoring them, and then readjusting them. Can you imagine how great it was to see them having fun because they worked to resolve conflict?

 I have many stories to share at another time. I was fortunate to spend the last 5 years of my career as a school leader with teachers and students as the center of my work.   


Principals should set high expectations for their schools and lead them collaboratively with school leadership teams, parent involvement, and school improvement councils. Their leadership should reflect an understanding that a community school model informs the strategic plans that meet the needs of a diverse student body, its family, and its community. The Superintendent as the chief educational leader for the district must ensure that its central staff has expertise in research-based curriculum and instruction, formative assessment, program evaluation, student services, and professional learning communities. On the administrative side, expertise is needed for fiscal responsibilities, transportation, food services, and facilities. Developing leadership within the system sustains and strengthens it. The District should empower schools to collaborate with each other within feeder patterns, constituent districts, and across the school district. The vision and goals in the strategic plans should reflect responsiveness to the schools’ needs. Providing resources and support to schools helps School Improvement Councils develop five-year plans. The district needs to resist efforts to privatize schools or use third-party operators.

The most important qualities needed for impactful school leadership are:

  • Leaders who consistently have high expectations for students and teachers.

  • Leaders who focus on improving teaching and learning with curriculum plans, professional development, and resources to ensure students’ academic and career success.

  • Leaders who establish school leadership teams and school improvement councils to build a school community that values high quality education and innovates for continuous improvement.

  • Leaders who build respectful relationships with students and staff, communicate, listen for creative solutions, maintain an open-door policy, establish effective organizational practices, and are visible throughout the school and its community. 

  • Leaders who remember they are there to make a positive difference in the lives of students. 


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