Search form

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 Arie J. Vanderstoel


Arie J. Vanderstoel Your school:
Dunnville Christian School, a K-8 school in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada (130 students).

Education experience:
I have been a teaching principal for 24 years. Before that I had 10 years of classroom experience.

How many hours do you work each week?
About 50 hours.

Whats the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
I open the school building, start the photocopier, and make the coffee.

What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
Helping our school population grow.

If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work then next morning?
I have never said, "Grrrr, another day" though there have been days when, at the end of the day, I have said, "I should have stayed home."

What is an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
Nothing is unforgivable. But not everything is acceptable.

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
God's guidance in my life became clear when the principal of my high school in The Netherlands (where I taught for 10 years) came into our classroom and explained how we could get a bursary if we wanted to go to teacher's college (a five-year study over there). Five of my classmates and I said on the spot that we wanted a form. All five of us became teachers.

What does your work contribute to society?
We prepare young people to face a society where "me-isms" appear to take over "the-other isms."

What do you do to relieve stress?
I read Clancy, Ludlum, Higgins, and others. I watch PBS, listen to classical music, and play mini-golf. And I spend time with my wife, my #1 son before he goes off to Texas, my #2 son when he is home from Tibet, and our two cats.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
Having a firm grasp of the school's mission and vision, and to work that into all dealings with students, parents, and staff and into the preparation and presentation of the school's curriculum.

If you could have a different career, what would that be?
I would have been an investigative reporter.

What have you been reading lately?
Ive read Literature Circles (Harvey Daniels), The Wounded Spirit (Frank Peretti), and Boards That Make a Difference: A New Design for Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations.

If youre having a good day at work, what makes it good?
I know its been a good day when staff and students leave the building chattering happily.

What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do?
Pray. I do a lot of it.

How do you motivate your staff to go above-and-beyond?
I try to provide them with on-the-spot support. I give them input at budget time. I often remind them that I do not know everything and that when we share our talents we arrive at new solutions.