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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 Mitchell


Karen Mitchell Your School:
Shelby Elementary School, a K-5 school in Shelby, Alabama (250 students)

Education experience:
I spent 13 years as a kindergarten teacher, one year as a first grade teacher, one year as a second grade teacher, one year as a Title I teacher, and three years as an administrative assistant.

How did you get your current job?
I was the assistant principal at my present school when the principal's job became available. I applied for the position and got the job.

What is your education mission?
My mission is to make a difference in the lives of children.

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
I got a job right out of high school as a teacher's aide because I couldn't find anything else. At first, I was determined not to become a teacher because my mother, my grandmother, my uncle, and several other relatives were teachers. However, I soon realized that I enjoyed my work as a teacher's aide. I then decided to go to college to get a degree so that I could teach my own classroom. I am now the fifth generation educator in my family!

What does your work contribute to society?
My work helps prepare children to be our future leaders.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader must be able to listen to others.

If you could have a different career, what would that be?
If I had the talent, I would be a singer.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
When students, parents, or teachers tell me something good about school, their positive words make my day an exceptionally good one.

What motivates you?
I am motivated by the children in my school. Many come from such poor home lives that school is the only "good" place to be. I want to make it a place where the children feel safe and know that they are loved.