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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 Dr. Elizabeth Neale


Dr. Katherine A. James Your School:
Silvio O. Conte Community School, a Pre K - 5 school in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (500 students)

Education experience:
I was the Lower School Head at the Berkshire Country Day School for nine years, a classroom teacher for four years, and the Director of Educational Services, Berkshire Center for Families and Children for 16 years. Since 1998, I have also been an adjunct professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in their post graduate Summer Leadership Academy.

How did you get your current job?
After working in the independent educational world for many years, I was very interested in working in a high-poverty, high-risk public school where I could make a different kind of a difference.

Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
Yes! I am totally committed to the world of education. I may decide to increase my time teaching aspiring school leaders as I find that area very interesting and challenging.

What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
The biggest challenge this year is undoubtedly the pending loss of funding from our state and city governments. As a result, losing faculty positions may be a possibility.

What is your education mission?
I take my mission from Lorraine Monroe who said: "Our work is about transforming children's lives; that the work takes whatever it takes."

What does your work contribute to society?
By creating an educational atmosphere where learning is valued and academic success is a goal for every child, we contribute to students becoming life long learners and adults who are well prepared for social, environmental, and intellectual challenges.

What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do?
I do several things related to our staff: I praise them often, organize consultancy groups so staff members can share their practices, and garden with the staff on our school grounds.

What motivates you?
I love to learn. Being in an educational setting is constant fertile ground for me to learn and to share learning with others, be they adults or children.