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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 Belinda Akin

Belinda Akin Your School:
Monticello Intermediate School, a 3-5 school in Monticello, Arkansas (475 students)

Education experience:
I spent eight years as a classroom teacher and three years as an assistant principal.

What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
With NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and our state's assessment, teachers and administrators are held more accountable than ever for student achievement. That is as it should be, but it is difficult. Looking at the subgroups, making curriculum and instructional decisions, and meeting students' needs are major concerns.

What is your education motto?
"We are here for the kids."

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
My mother. She would have liked to have been a teacher but, as a young person, she did not have the opportunity to go to college. She instilled the love of learning and the great need for an education in all of her children. She finally got the chance to go to college and graduated at the age of 59. How proud we were of her!

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader must be fair and have the ability to listen.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
The students and staff I work with. All I have to do is enter a classroom, walk the hallways, or be on the playground. Students are very comfortable in giving hugs and telling me about the latest books they have read, what they are writing about in class, or their latest test scores. They are quick to share their birthday parties and their weekend activities. They make my day! Watching my caring staff work with these boys and girls makes me feel so proud.

How do you motivate your staff to go above-and-beyond?
I try to set an example, and I never ask more of them than I ask of myself.

What motivates you?
New ideas, new approaches, new solutions, and networking with other administrators offer me a great deal of motivation.