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.
Lindenwold High School, a 9-12 school in Lindenwold, New Jersey (680 students)
I have been an assistant principal for 17 years; prior to that I taught in a special education classroom for nine years.
Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
Yes, I am proud to be a career assistant principal. I love being able to focus my full attention on the students and staff.
What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
Our biggest challenge is fostering self-respect in our students. We are constantly fighting negative community influences, the images that TV and music videos blast to our kids, and the lure of instant gratification.
What is your education motto?
Abraham Lincoln said, "Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be." I live my life by this saying. Life, including your career, is too short not to make the most of every single day.
If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work then next morning?
The team we have built at LHS. This is the most committed administration and staff I have ever worked with. The students always come first, the staff gives of themselves over and above without looking for compensation, and the students know that their teachers truly believe in them.
What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader must sincerely care about the students and staff and be committed to his or her vision.
What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do?
The principal, athletic director, guidance director and I share discipline duties. We know our students well, we provide a united front and we're not afraid to throw out the "Code of Conduct." Sometimes we "triple-team" them and make them talk about their feelings, which we have found to be more effective than any detention or suspension.
What else would you like to share about yourself?
Outside of school, I spent 13 years with the Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps -- traveling, teaching, and providing support. For the last two years, I have worked with the Miss America Organization to provide scholarship opportunities to young women. I guess once an educator, always an educator at heart!