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Paul Young's Young @ Heart

Is Your Name on the List?


There are all kinds of lists. Top-ten lists. Shopping lists. Best-seller lists. Mailing lists. Spelling lists. Hit lists. There are right lists to be on, and lists on which you wouldn't want to see your name. So which lists are you on? As a principal, are you on the right lists?

Our world is full of lists. Grocery lists. Supply lists. Richest people lists. Best- and worst-dressed lists. Lists of best places to eat, work, live, or take a vacation. Everyone loves comedian David Letterman's "Top-Ten Lists."

As principals, we are keepers of many lists. A large part of our job is making and tracking to-do lists, organization lists, responsibility lists, wish lists, class lists, email lists, and more.

[content block] Then there are also the infamous hit lists, and those that rhyme with hit but start with S. If your superintendent keeps either or both of those, you don't want to be on them.


Within our communities, effective principals are typically at the top of the list among respected public servants. We lead the lists of creative resource providers, thinkers, and doers. Our names also appear on the volunteer lists of professional associations, where we serve as leaders, advocates, mentors, presenters, and much more.

But what about inside our school learning communities? If you were to survey the staff of your learning community, what lists would they say you are on? Would they list you as being supportive, creative, hard working, honest, fair, competent, and knowledgeable? Or would they list you as being a loner, wishy-washy, obstinate, unsupportive, and/or ineffective? Would the music teacher feel as supported as the regular classroom teacher? Do the classified employees feel they have your ear like the certified staff? Would people say you have lists of favorites?

As principals, we want our names on the right lists!


When it comes to lists, we need to do more than just join our professional associations. We need to add our names to the list of volunteers for committees, advocacy groups, and as professional speakers.

We need to sign up to mentor or provide support to aspiring or beginning principals.

We need to socialize, share our talents, and make lists of those we meet whose talents can benefit our schools.

We need to join service groups and work with the list of movers and shakers who make things happen in our communities.

We need to do more than just get on the list of influential people in our community. We need to want to be at the top of that list. We need to be on the list of people who community leaders consider compassionate, creative, and competent leaders.

With many challenges and goals to accomplish, we principals can become overwhelmed by the list of things we have to do. That's why we must, first and foremost, realize that we can't do it all. We need to make lists of others in our learning communities, and alongside their names we need to list their greatest talents. We need to awaken our colleagues to their talents and guide them -- empower them -- to share responsibility for accomplishing our goals and our successes.

The bottom line is this: Do people place your name foremost among those who make things happen? If not, you need to work to get on that list!

Paul Young, Ph. D., is the executive director of the West After School Center in Lancaster, Ohio. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the National AfterSchool Association (NAA). He served as president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in 2002-2003 and retired from Lancaster City Schools in 2004. He is an author with Corwin Press,, and School-Age Notes. He and his wife, Gertrude, a music teacher, live in Lancaster.


Did this column strike a cord with you? Did it get you thinking? Do you agree with Paul? Do you have something to add? Paul Young would love to hear from you. You can leave your comments on a special message board we've set up for just that purpose.

Article by Paul Young
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