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Each week, Education World profiles a different school principal or assistant principal. His or her responses offer insight into what a school administrator's day is like and the special challenges school leaders face.


Principal Profile: All About Chris Vail


Chris Vail Your School:
Groveport Madison Middle School South, a 6-8 school in Groveport, Ohio (795 students)

Education experience:
I spent 11 years as a high school math teacher. This is my second year as an assistant principal.

What is your education motto?
I believe that having a positive attitude is most important. I try to remain positive at all times.

If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work then next morning?
I can't recall having a day where I didn't get up and go for it!

What is an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
Unprofessionalism. As educators, we must realize that we are setting examples for others.

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
My mother taught fourth grade for 29 years.

What does your work contribute to society?
Hopefully, I am helping produce an educated, informed citizenry.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
Strong people skills. Whether dealing with the staff, the public, or students, strong people skills -- such as empathy and an ability to communicate -- are key for a successful school leader.

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

What have you been reading lately?
I read a wide variety of things. I like Larry McMurtry a lot. I also enjoy spy thrillers, mysteries, and historical books.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
Most of my days are good because I strive to make them that way. I guess the best days are when I feel that I have accomplished something like completing a project or presenting material to a group.

What motivates you?
I enjoy working with new teachers quite a bit. I came into education after 11 years in business, so I have a little different perspective on the job. I find that beginning teachers have fresh perceptions about kids and about their profession.