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Each week, Education World profiles a different school principal. His or her responses offer insight into what it takes to be a principal, what a principal's day is like, and the special challenges a principal faces.


Principal Profile: All About Yolanda Z. Ramirez


ImageYour school:
Lorenzo de Zavala Elementary School, a PreK-5 school in McAllen, Texas (375 students)

Number of years in that position:
13 years

How did you get your current job?
The superintendent called me into his office and asked if I was ready to be principal at Zavala. I did not expect the offer. Previously, I had turned down a coordinator position.

How many hours a week do you work?
I usually work 12-hour days from Monday through Friday. On Saturday, I go into the office for about 5 hours.

What is the biggest challenge you will face this school year?
My school has been a year-round campus for the last seven years. This year, we are returning to a traditional calendar. The whole school community will need to adjust to attending school in October and April.

What do you do to relieve stress?
During the day, I walk the halls and visit classrooms. Seeing children who are learning helps me cope with everyday stress and tension.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
Being a good listener, and being open-minded to new ideas. I must serve as a role model for my staff if I want them to do the same.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
Teachers are giving 110 percent to ensure that students learn, children are happy and excited, and parents are satisfied.

What motivates your staff to go "above and beyond" each year?
For the past several years, we have carried a school-wide theme with an instructional focus that benefits students and teachers. All stakeholders -- teachers, students, and parents -- get involved. Among the themes we have used are "Piece By Piece, We All Fit In" (1996-97) and "A Hero in Every Heart" (1997-98). This year's theme will be "Down the Yellow Brick Road: An Oz-Some Journey to Excellence." The dreams my students dare to dream really do come true at Zavala Elementary School.