New Beginnings: The Pizza Conference

I am honored to continue serving my district as the next principal of Alton Darby Elementary. The goal of this blog was to document my journey to the principalship because I wanted others who might have been interested in educational administration to see what the journey may be like if they decided to take it. Now that I have accepted a position as principal, I will shift my attention to the transition period that has already begun to take place. I am excited to start documenting these reflections through a blog series called “New Beginnings”.

As I continue to learn more about the Alton Darby community, I have been looking for opportunities to have conversations with students, families, and teachers. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a special group of stakeholders: the students.

I wanted to make sure that students were the first stakeholder group I met with because they are at the center of the work that we do each day. With the help of the Alton Darby staff, two students from each classroom were invited to have lunch with me to have a discussion about the future. Kids have such a unique perspective on most things in life, and I wanted to find out their thoughts and feelings about their school since “school” is such an important part of their life right now.

We grouped the kids together – 1st and 2nd graders, 3rd and 4th graders, and then just 5th graders – so that we could have a small group setting for each conversation. I kept the framework of the conversation open and I asked two questions:

  • What do you love about Alton Darby Elementary?
  • If you were the principal and you had all the money you wanted to spend on Alton Darby, what would you do?

I could have held the conference all day!

Each child’s response was so genuine and honest that I wanted to know more. Collectively, the students’ answers to both questions demonstrated a strong sense of community at Alton Darby. They remarked how nice and friendly everyone is at Alton Darby. “The school is filled with positive energy,” said one 2nd grader. “The related arts teachers let us use our imaginations,” said another. “The teachers push us to learn something new,” replied a 5th grade student.

Here’s what I loved about what I heard. Even though students were divided into different groups and met at different times, they all made the same positive comments about the Alton Darby community. Alton Darby Elementary’s reputation of being a student-centered learning community that believes in building positive relationships with all its members was affirmed by the members of the community whose voices are the most important ones. I believe that is a credit to the work students, parents, and staff members have put into building meaning relationships throughout the school community.

Now, the responses to the second question (What would you do if you were principal, etc.) were just as interesting to me. Again, each student group generally gave the same replies. One comment that came up over and over again was that students really want to have more physical activity. And if they were given all the money they wanted to spend on Alton Darby, students would have amazing playground equipment. They also suggested expanding the gym so that there was more room for more groups of students to do activities. One student really wanted a disco ball in a room where kids could work.

While I don’t think we can count on a disco ball or rebuild the gym, I did want to make sure I was sending a message to these students that I want them to Dream BIG. Giving kids opportunities to dream also gives them opportunities to explore their passions and dreams. As teachers and family members, we have the amazing opportunity to support students their learning journey and to do what we can to support their goals.

This was my very first Pizza Conference and I am looking forward to having more in the future!

 

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New Beginnings: The Pizza Conference

I am honored to continue serving my district as the next principal of Alton Darby Elementary. The goal of this blog was to document my journey to the principalship because I wanted others who might have been interested in educational administration to see what the journey may be like if they decided to take it. Now that I have accepted a position as principal, I will shift my attention to the transition period that has already begun to take place. I am excited to start documenting these reflections through a blog series called “New Beginnings”.

As I continue to learn more about the Alton Darby community, I have been looking for opportunities to have conversations with students, families, and teachers. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a special group of stakeholders: the students.

I wanted to make sure that students were the first stakeholder group I met with because they are at the center of the work that we do each day. With the help of the Alton Darby staff, two students from each classroom were invited to have lunch with me to have a discussion about the future. Kids have such a unique perspective on most things in life, and I wanted to find out their thoughts and feelings about their school since “school” is such an important part of their life right now.

We grouped the kids together – 1st and 2nd graders, 3rd and 4th graders, and then just 5th graders – so that we could have a small group setting for each conversation. I kept the framework of the conversation open and I asked two questions:

  • What do you love about Alton Darby Elementary?
  • If you were the principal and you had all the money you wanted to spend on Alton Darby, what would you do?

I could have held the conference all day!

Each child’s response was so genuine and honest that I wanted to know more. Collectively, the students’ answers to both questions demonstrated a strong sense of community at Alton Darby. They remarked how nice and friendly everyone is at Alton Darby. “The school is filled with positive energy,” said one 2nd grader. “The related arts teachers let us use our imaginations,” said another. “The teachers push us to learn something new,” replied a 5th grade student.

Here’s what I loved about what I heard. Even though students were divided into different groups and met at different times, they all made the same positive comments about the Alton Darby community. Alton Darby Elementary’s reputation of being a student-centered learning community that believes in building positive relationships with all its members was affirmed by the members of the community whose voices are the most important ones. I believe that is a credit to the work students, parents, and staff members have put into building meaning relationships throughout the school community.

Now, the responses to the second question (What would you do if you were principal, etc.) were just as interesting to me. Again, each student group generally gave the same replies. One comment that came up over and over again was that students really want to have more physical activity. And if they were given all the money they wanted to spend on Alton Darby, students would have amazing playground equipment. They also suggested expanding the gym so that there was more room for more groups of students to do activities. One student really wanted a disco ball in a room where kids could work.

While I don’t think we can count on a disco ball or rebuild the gym, I did want to make sure I was sending a message to these students that I want them to Dream BIG. Giving kids opportunities to dream also gives them opportunities to explore their passions and dreams. As teachers and family members, we have the amazing opportunity to support students their learning journey and to do what we can to support their goals.

This was my very first Pizza Conference and I am looking forward to having more in the future!

 

New Beginnings: They Will Never Really Be Gone

I am honored to continue serving my district as the next principal of Alton Darby Elementary. The goal of this blog was to document my journey to the principalship because I wanted others who might have been interested in educational administration to see what the journey may be like if they decided to take it. Now that I have accepted a position as principal, I will shift my attention to the transition period that has already begun to take place. I am excited to start documenting these reflections through a blog series called “New Beginnings”.

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/82/03/1820355_1f977215.jpg

As each day passes, I feel like I am becoming more involved with in the Alton Darby community. I am having more conversations with teachers, parents, and students, receiving more emails, and I am thinking more and more about the future. Meanwhile, I am wrapping up projects that I am currently working on at Hilliard Horizon Elementary.

Hilliard Horizon students and families are finding out that I now have the opportunity to lead with the Alton Darby community and I’m having more conversations that feel like I’m saying “goodbye”. Those conversations can be tough because of what the students, families and teachers of Hilliard Horizon Elementary mean to me.

This past March, I had to say goodbye to my dog Sadie who lived 13 fun-filled years with me. Sadie was a black lab who was full of life and acted like she was throwing a surprise party every time I came home. Sadie was special because she was there for some of the biggest life-changing events in my life. College graduation, marriage, my first home, the birth of my daughters – She was there for it all.

IMG_20140119_152403443
Sadie catching a nap in the sun.

That’s what made saying goodbye so hard to do. She had become apart of who I am today, which made me realize something important about saying goodbye: The people who matter the most in our lives will never really be gone.

The five years that I have spent with the Hilliard Horizon community has forever changed me. It’s where I learned to be a better teacher. It’s where I learned the importance of working with families to support their son or daughter. And it’s where I learned to take risks with new ideas and to not be afraid to fail. The experiences I had and the people I worked with and learned from these past five years have changed me into the educator I am today. It is not possible to say goodbye to that.

This transition into the principalship has been an important reminder for me that the impact we have on others is immeasurable. There is no method that can quantify our relationships in a way that captures how others change us. Maya Angelou reminds us:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So as I spend these last few weeks saying goodbye to the students, families, and teachers that I have worked with over the past five years, I know that they will never really be gone. They have changed me in a way that will always make them apart who I am.

Check out this song by Imagine Dragons called “It’s Time”. It holds a new meaning for me these days as I face this turning point in my life. Enjoy!

New Beginnings: They Will Never Really Be Gone

I am honored to continue serving my district as the next principal of Alton Darby Elementary. The goal of this blog was to document my journey to the principalship because I wanted others who might have been interested in educational administration to see what the journey may be like if they decided to take it. Now that I have accepted a position as principal, I will shift my attention to the transition period that has already begun to take place. I am excited to start documenting these reflections through a blog series called “New Beginnings”.

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/82/03/1820355_1f977215.jpg

As each day passes, I feel like I am becoming more involved with in the Alton Darby community. I am having more conversations with teachers, parents, and students, receiving more emails, and I am thinking more and more about the future. Meanwhile, I am wrapping up projects that I am currently working on at Hilliard Horizon Elementary.

Hilliard Horizon students and families are finding out that I now have the opportunity to lead with the Alton Darby community and I’m having more conversations that feel like I’m saying “goodbye”. Those conversations can be tough because of what the students, families and teachers of Hilliard Horizon Elementary mean to me.

This past March, I had to say goodbye to my dog Sadie who lived 13 fun-filled years with me. Sadie was a black lab who was full of life and acted like she was throwing a surprise party every time I came home. Sadie was special because she was there for some of the biggest life-changing events in my life. College graduation, marriage, my first home, the birth of my daughters – She was there for it all.

IMG_20140119_152403443
Sadie catching a nap in the sun.

That’s what made saying goodbye so hard to do. She had become apart of who I am today, which made me realize something important about saying goodbye: The people who matter the most in our lives will never really be gone.

The five years that I have spent with the Hilliard Horizon community has forever changed me. It’s where I learned to be a better teacher. It’s where I learned the importance of working with families to support their son or daughter. And it’s where I learned to take risks with new ideas and to not be afraid to fail. The experiences I had and the people I worked with and learned from these past five years have changed me into the educator I am today. It is not possible to say goodbye to that.

This transition into the principalship has been an important reminder for me that the impact we have on others is immeasurable. There is no method that can quantify our relationships in a way that captures how others change us. Maya Angelou reminds us:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So as I spend these last few weeks saying goodbye to the students, families, and teachers that I have worked with over the past five years, I know that they will never really be gone. They have changed me in a way that will always make them apart who I am.

Check out this song by Imagine Dragons called “It’s Time”. It holds a new meaning for me these days as I face this turning point in my life. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CskHY7k3vo