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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 Michael Miller


Michael Miller Your school:
Saturn Elementary School, a PreK-6 school in Cocoa, Florida (820 students).

Education experience:
I was a classroom teacher for 11 years and an assistant principal for five years. This is my fourth year as a school principal.

How many hours do you work each week?
60-65 hours.

Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
This is where I want to be.

What is your education motto?
I have a different theme each year. My first year here we were "Team Saturn," the next year we were "The Best," and last year's theme was "Saturn on the Right Track." This year our theme is "If You Believe, You Can Succeed."

How much work do you take home?
Not much. I try to separate work and home. I probably bring two to three hours of work home each week.

If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work the next morning?
I take a walk through the building and make contact with the kids.

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
I started out in the mental health field. I had a friend who was principal of a new school. He talked me into teaching EMH (special education) for him.

What does your work contribute to society?
Sixty-seven percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch. I hope the experiences we provide for our children will help them break out of the poverty cycle.

What do you do to relieve stress?
I go to the gym and run. I also listen to jazz music.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
Seeing the whole picture and planning ahead.

What have you been reading lately?
I just read several books on time management by Ivan Fitzwater.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
Everything flows smoothly after I have put so much time and effort into setting up procedures that work.

What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do?
I am a lead manager. My staff is involved in the decision-making process. I love watching everyone work as a team. I am amazed how well the school works when people are trained to make decisions and solve problems.

How do you motivate your staff to go above and beyond?
I try to surround myself with very capable people, give them the things they need to get the job done, and try to stay out of their way. I also make sure I thank publicly those who go above and beyond.