Thursday, June 8, 2017

Love and Connections

The realization that I have actually spent six years as the principal of McCall hit me as we were preparing for the end of the year and thinking about our departing fifth-grade class. I realized that our fifth graders were actually the first kindergarteners of my first year of the principalship.  In my reflections, I thought about all of our parents who were first-time parents six years ago with a fresh-faced, excited first-year principal starting with them on their journey through school.  What a tremendous ride it has been.  Not only have the kids changed so much in six years, I have also really evolved in my own journey as their principal.

In my remarks at our graduation ceremony for our fifth graders this year, I told the kids (and their parents) that a friend had recently asked me what do I want my kids leaving McCall to know?  If you had asked me that six years ago, I am sure that my answer would have centered around something close to my curricular background.  However, if asked that today and the experiences that I have had on this journey, my answer is that I want my kids, and their parents, to know that they are loved.  That is the single biggest takeaway that I have had in this role.  Love is what spurs us all on to be our best, learn our best, and give each other our best.  If a caring and nurturing environment are in place, then all the necessary academic skills that we deem important to learn in elementary school will all fall into place.

My second end of the year epiphany came during the hiring season.  Inevitably, as much as we dislike it, people change and grow and move on or move up in their careers.  While it is always a big task, hiring is something that I very much enjoy. I love analyzing our team and working with them to determine the ideal candidate to fill out their team.  Over the course of the last six years, I have been able to bring together extremely passionate people who love kids and love teaching.  I am very proud of the team we have assembled, so we are very picky about who gets to join us and share in our journey.  Early on in my six years, I hired a girl out of East Texas and was struck by her intense desire to move from a small town to the big city.  She had a goal and she wanted to reach it.  I remember being mama bear to her that summer as she really didn't know that many people and didn't really know Plano.  I was in awe of her grit.  Fast forward to this year, and I met another young lady from San Angelo.  She had the same desire as my East Texas girl--move to the big city and make an impact on a school and a larger community.  Why would I not want someone like this to make an impact on my kids?  What a role model!  Unlike the first time with my East Texas teacher, I had someone I could connect San Angelo to as she began to move in this week.   That is the moment it hit me--connecting people and setting them up for success is what the principal role is really all about.

As we close this year, I feel exhilarated about where we are as a campus and a community.  I feel blessed to have evolved to this point in the principalship journey.  I thank all the amazing people who have contributed to my journey--peers, teachers, parents, community, my camps friends, and my Twitter PLN.  I am blessed to have amazing kids, amazing parents and wonderful teachers surrounding me as I do this work.  It's been a great year at McCall this year.

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