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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 Karen I. Hodges


Karen I. Hodges Your School:
Brockton Christian School, a PreK - 8 school in Brockton, Massachusetts (119 students)

How did you get your current job?
I was a classroom teacher and assistant principal in my current school. When the principal took another position, the school board offered me the principalship. Nine years later, I'm still thrilled with my job!

What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
I see two major challenges in our school this year. First, we're in an upward battle against what children see on television and witness in their neighborhoods. We're working on issues of respect with the children -- for adults and their peers. Our second challenge is finances. We seem to always be stretched to the limit, but we've seen our needs met time after time. We're in an older refurbished mansion, so maintenance is a continual issue.

If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work the next morning?
I keep cards and notes from kids and parents in a file. If I'm having a bad day, I read a note from that file. I may also spend time with kids in a classroom. I've found that the pre-kindergarteners are always willing to make me feel better!

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader must have the ability to build a team. Children should see adults work and plan together, as well as laugh and commiserate together. That's real life. If we can't work together in front of children, how can we expect them to do the same?

What special thing do you do that you think all principals should do?
I work to create relationships with faculty, parents, and kids. For example, I do lunch duty daily with all the kids. I've had children share things with me that they wouldn't say in an office setting, and the kindergarteners learned that I really eat lunch too!

How do you motivate your staff to go above-and-beyond?
I don't ask the teachers to do anything that I'm not willing to do. If a principal takes risks and tries new things, the staff is more willing to try something new too.