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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 Laura Guggino


Laura Guggino Your school:
Rhame Avenue Elementary School is a K-6 school in East Rockaway, New York (385 students).

Education experience:
I have been a principal for two years. Prior to that I was a classroom teacher (grades 4, 5, and 6) for seven years and an assistant principal for 1 year.

Whats the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning? I have another cup of coffee! I enjoy the relaxed pace before the staff and students arrive. I read emails, prepare for the events of the day, and visit early morning breakfast programs.

Do you expect to finish your working life in this career? Absolutely. What could be greater?

What is your education motto? Every teacher is a fourth grade teacher. Each teacher, regardless of grade level, must be teaching to the challenging fourth grade curriculum. New Yorks assessment tests, given in fourth grade, test the cumulative knowledge of students. Teachers in the lower grades have as much responsibility for preparing students for test success as fourth-grade teachers do.

If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work then next morning? I have a folder in my desk labeled "ME." Each time I receive a positive note, remark, or illustration during the year -- whether it is from a parent, student, or staff member -- I add it to the folder. On those tough days, I look through the folder and remember the thanks I have received from others, the people I have touched, or the kindness that has been shown to me. It is remarkable how fast doing that brings a smile to my face and gets me motivated for another day.

What is an unforgivable trait in a colleague? Not considering or meeting the best interests of the children.

What does your work contribute to society? The business of educating children molds the minds of tomorrow.

What do you do to relieve stress? My best stress relievers are going the gym for a cardiovascular workout and walking my dog.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader? The ability to be a good communicator. I strive to be an active listener and to convey my thoughts and ideas effectively.

What have you been reading lately? Recently, I read Who Moved My Cheese? and Word Matters.

If youre having a good day at work, what makes it good? Directly touching and influencing the life of a child; successfully supporting a staff member; assisting a parent in need.

What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do? I make a point of being visible. I get out of the office and into the classrooms.

How do you motivate your staff to go above-and-beyond? I encourage more than I motivate. We all must work in the best interests of the children in mind. With that as the goal, motivation becomes intrinsic.