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.
Eston Composite School, a K-12 school in Eston, Saskatchewan, Canada (230 students).
I spent nine years as a classroom teacher, two years as a vice-principal, and two years as a principal in a grade 5-9 school.
What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
This year, my biggest challenges are getting to know a new community, staff, and students; building relationships with different people; and learning the workings of a K-12 school, which has a different culture from my previous position.
If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work the next morning?
My own children. I have six children and no matter how bad the day was before, they face each day with great expectations. It's listening to them as I get ready each morning that gives me a lift when I need it. Nothing makes beginning one's day brighter than a smile, a warm hug, and a "have a good day."
What does your work contribute to society?
I believe that what we do in school is vital to our world in many ways. Locally, we provide students with a sense of belonging and we connect them to their community. Provincially, we encourage students to have a positive outlook for what we do as a province. Nationally, we help to develop young people who can examine events within the context of a multicultural nation and understand different viewpoints. Globally, we want to develop perceptive individuals who have empathy for others and think about the impact their actions will have on those around them.
What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader is someone who can balance being a collaborative administrator within a learning community, an individual manager whom others seek for guidance, and a discerning principal who makes child-focused decisions.
What else would you like to share about being an educator?
I learn new things each day and that keeps me going. It's like teaching a new subject for the first time. You're nervous and you may feel that you're not as prepared as you'd like to be. However, as the months roll by, you discover things that you didn't know about yourself and about the students you teach. That's motivating! Also, each child has a story that needs to be heard. We must take time to hear those stories. We teach children, not subjects -- that is important to remember.