Yes, this is the longest I’ve gone without blogging in about four years. But, I have an excuse…
Since my last post I’ve made the transition from K-12 curriculum supervisor in Pennsylvania to Bergen County, New Jersey, where (as of January 15) I am now the proud Elementary Principal of T. Baldwin Demarest Elementary School (TBD) in the Old Tappan School District. And, while I undoubtedly look forward to my work being the main focus of my writings, I do think it’s important to spend a post or two reflecting upon previous experiences.
That being said…
December 22 was my final day with the Salisbury Township School District. On this day, when I got home from work, I started to make the mental transition from curriculum supervisor to principal. As part of this process (aside from taking a much needed power nap), I hopped on the phone with someone I consider a mentor and one of my best friends, Tony Sinanis. As part of our conversation, we talked about a handful of Elementary Principals (current and former) from whom I could learn. Looking back, what stands out to me the most aren’t necessarily the names themselves, but the fact that these were educators who I was already following and learning from via social media, but I hadn’t had many one-on-one interactions with them that did much more than scratch the surface. In other words, I was learning from them and they didn’t even know it.
As I think about this circumstance, my mind wanders to a somewhat famous Joe DiMaggio story, when, later on in his career, a sports reporter asked him why he put so much effort into every game despite the fact that he already had a Hall of Fame career under his belt. DiMaggio’s response:
“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.”
An educator could easily have said those words.
As educators, we never know who’s watching us, learning from us, and being inspired by us (especially if we have a strong social media presence). But the chances are, we all have at least one person who holds us up on a pedestal, whether it’s a fellow educator, student, parent of a student, etc. And, all it takes is one blunder for this perception to come crashing down. As I have learned in my time as an administrator – day in, day out consistency is not easy, and perhaps one of the hardest parts of the job.
That being said…
Here are four principals who inspired me to become a principal:
- Jessica Cabeen: Jessica is the principal of a kindergarten center in Minnesota, and she is the author of the upcoming Hacking Early Learning. When I need to get another administrator’s opinion on kindergarten situations, Jess will easily be one of my go-to people.
- Spike Cook: For the past few years, Spike has been a Middle School Principal in New Jersey, and before that he was an Elementary Principal in the same district. He authored Connected Leadership and then coauthored Breaking Out of Isolation with Jessica Johnson and Theresa Stager.
- Brad Gustafson: Brad is an Elementary Principal in Minnesota. He is best known for his unique shoe collection, authoring Renegade Leadership, and for being one of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet. Also, I envy his abilities to produce absolutely stunning Keynote slides.
- Lisa Meade: I first met Lisa about a handful of years ago when she was a Middle School Principal in New York, and she has since become an Assistant Superintendent. While Lisa talks with a quiet voice, her work (and her writings) speak loudly about the passion she has for her students.
In the end, you never know who is watching, admiring, or waiting for you to stumble and fall. But, as educators, we will always be working with students in one way or another. And, we owe them our best.
Who inspires you?
Connect with Ross on Twitter.
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