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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 Terry W. Farley


Image Your school:
Coal City Elementary School, a PreK-6 school in Coal City, West Virginia (375 students)

Your education experience:
I was a classroom teacher for nine years and a teaching principal for one year. I have been a principal for 18 years, four of those years at Coal City Elementary.

Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
Yes. After that I might pursue lecturing and motivational speaking.

What is the biggest challenge you will face this school year?
We're losing several key personnel to retirement; the challenge will be to fill those positions with people who have a vision and passion for teaching.

How much work, if any, do you take home?
I take too much work home -- but taking work home helps me be fully prepared to address the next day's tasks.

What is an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
There is no unforgivable trait, but I detest laziness.

Who or what most influenced your decision to become an educator?
My mother taught me to pursue my dreams no matter what obstacles have to be overcome.

What do you do to relieve stress?
I write poetry, sing gospel music, and do stand-up comedy.

What have you been reading lately?
John Maxwell's The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

What is the greatest mistake you ever made?
The greatest mistake I ever made was to pattern my style of administration after others. I found that in order to do my best, I must be me! I must nurture my strengths and talents and develop them the best way I can.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
Honesty and approachability are two things that go hand-in-hand.

If you could have a different career, what would that be?
I'd be a stand-up comedian. I love storytelling and making people laugh.