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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 Mink


Your School:
O.C. Allen Elementary School, a PreK-5 school in Aurora, Illinois (755 students)

Education experience:
I worked for 14 years as a reading specialist, eight years as a classroom teacher, and one year as an administrative assistant.

What is the biggest challenge you face this school year?
This year, my key challenge is running a rapidly growing school that, for the first time, has not met our Adequate Yearly Progress goals. In one year, our population grew by more than 100 students. We do not have the space to accommodate the additional children. Some of our teachers are working out of bathrooms.

If you have a bad day, what is it that gets you out the door and off to work then next morning?
Sharing a laugh with my assistant principal, having dinner with a friend, and griping to my husband. Things always look better in the morning light.

Who most influenced your decision to become an educator?
Dr. Karin Evans, a former principal who became an assistant superintendent, and Dr. Michael Heggerty, a former classroom teacher who also became an assistant superintendent, influenced my career choice. I worked with both of them and they always put kids first.

What does your work contribute to society?
I strive to ensure that students are treated fairly and that we are giving them every opportunity possible. I hope to help them grow educationally, socially, and emotionally to become productive adults who value themselves and respect others.

What is the most important quality of a strong school leader?
A strong school leader must be fair and consistent so that everyone feels valued. He or she must also be a good instructional leader who can help teachers grow as educators.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
If everyone is happy, discipline problems are down, I get some work done, and I see good things happening in the classrooms, it's a good day.

How do you motivate your staff to go above-and-beyond?
I give them lots of encouragement, recognize the good things they do, and provide them with the tools they need to succeed. I also don't ask them to do anything that I wouldn't do.