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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 Mary Alice Zettel


Chris Vail Your School:
Holy Trinity Parish School, a K-8 school in Louisville, Kentucky (691 students)

Education experience:
I spent 15 years as a classroom teacher; I have been a principal for ten years.

How did you get your current job?
I had been a principal for one year at a small school with 100 students when a teacher at Holy Trinity asked me to apply for the principalship at a larger school. I did, and I was offered my present position.

Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
I truly hope to retire from Holy Trinity. However, I would also love to teach a class at a university or be an educational consultant and motivate teachers and principals across the country.

What is your education motto?
I have two mottos: "Teach me to fish" and "Every day is a new day."

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
My mother inspired me. She retired from teaching after 28 years. I am so proud of the values and work ethic she instilled in me.

What does your work contribute to society?
I truly believe that as educators, we touch the future each day we work with children. Education is perhaps the most important single contribution to society.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
To be a motivator -- we all need to be encouraged and supported. Being a positive, enthusiastic role model or cheerleader helps teachers get through tough days.

How do you motivate your staff to go above-and-beyond?
I never ask my faculty to do something that I am not willing to do. I set the bar high and they continually strive to reach that bar. I encourage them, support them, and give them the tools they need to go above and beyond.

What else would you like to share about yourself?
This November, I will be honored as a 2003-2004 National Distinguished Principal in Washington, D.C. I am excited and humbled to represent so many wonderful principals.