Each week, Education World profiles a different school principal or assistant principal. His or her responses offer insight into what a school administrator's day is like and the special challenges school leaders face.
Grover Cleveland High School, a 9-12 school in Reseda, CA (3670 students)
I spent ten years as an assistant principal and eight years as a dean.
What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
We must meet the needs of 200 additional students who are bused in from the inner city, most of whom do not speak English.
What is your education mission?
Our mission is to get every kid over the bar, meaning that we operate under the premise that schools must bring all students to their full potential and to a level of education that was once reserved for the very few. To accomplish our mission, we have developed a professional learning community where teachers emphasize student learning rather than teaching. We emphasize active student engagement in learning with significant content. We focus on student performance and production.
Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
My father pushed me into teaching saying it was what I did best. He always felt it was the most meaningful professional and certainly an honest one. I became an administrator so I could guide young teachers entering our profession and help them get through much of the bureaucratic red tape that gets in their way.
What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader must have energy, enthusiasm, and hope.
What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do?
At our school, we recognize accomplishments on a regular basis. Each month, we honor teachers who have performed well by giving them small awards, often coupons for a free dinner at a restaurant in the area. Each school day, we use our PA system to acknowledge the accomplishments of students. We give students certificates for a free meal at one of several local fast food restaurants. We have a renaissance club that recognizes students with T-shirts, Walkman stereos, and several other kinds of gifts. We build relationships through collaboration. Teachers share their practices at weekly meetings and we work to assist teachers to take an active role in our school.