Skip navigation

Three years ago I began my quest for my Doctorate degree. It has always been a dream of mine since I knew that I would be going in to education. My mother started, but never finished her doctoral work, so I feel obligated to continue the path that she started. At first, my goal was to finish by the time I was 30, but the family was growing and my wife had a career change. Now, at 32, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I finished giving my proposal of chapters 1-3 of my dissertation and now will be moving into the statistical tests and discussion of my findings. It all seems so surreal.

I have documented my progress through this journey and one day hope to pass this love of learning off to my children. They seem so energetic about what they learn in school right now and I hope this doesn’t cease as they move to higher levels of education. In my role as an administrator, I have seen numerous well educated parents who don’t seem to pass on the values of a good education to their kids and I have vowed not to let that happen to me and my children.

As I wrap up this next milestone in my career, I only wonder what will happen next. I have been in school since I was 5-years-old and wonder what lies ahead. I have seriously been considering picking up a Rosetta Stone and learning a new language. I have always felt sort of bad that I never really attached myself to this type of learning when others around the world are multi-lingual. It seems a little arrogant to think that the only language that I need to learn is English.

Overall, I really feel blessed to have a supportive wife, children, and colleagues who have helped me along as I go through this educational process. It is unfortunate that others do not have this support network and I guess that is why I am in education in the first placed. To help the disenfranchised become the best person they can be through a strong education.

Advertisements

It’s that time of the season again where job postings start coming and the thrill and excitement of new ventures start dancing in my head. I wonder sometimes why the thrill of the unknown is such an exciting prospect? Obviously, I love what I do, but the idea of having my own building and developing my own team is something that I think about constantly.

Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do, but I don’t intend on being an assistant principal forever. In fact, the thought of doing this job for more than 10 years is a little scary. At some point, the AP role gets systematic and when you have your routines in place and they are working, thoughts of job advancement start creeping in the brain. I am at that point. The questions that are running around in my head are:

1. With all of the other things on my plate (grad school, young kids at home, a wife that is content where we are at, etc.) is taking this step the right thing to do?

2. What kind of school am I looking for? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and I must say that the grass is pretty green where I am currently at.

3. As a fairly young AP, what is my growth ceiling?

4. Do I really want to be a principal for 25+ years?

As any administrator can see, the answers to these questions can cause a hemorrhage. I guess I need to think about it a little more.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job and I love going to work. I especially like snow days because it is a time when I can collect my thoughts and actually gets some of the “administrative” work done that I sometimes don’t get around to when there are students and staff present. I thought a lot about snow days after a recent bout with the white stuff caused school to be cancelled for two days straight. I woke up and went through my normal routine, got the snow blower started, and dug out of 2 foot snow drifts in my driveway. As I started my trek to work, I found that snow plows had not even sniffed the residential streets. It took me about 25 minutes to go half a mile. When I finally did get to work, I realized that the school parking lot had not been cleared yet, so getting in to the building presented a whole new challenge.

A few days later, I was reminded my administrators at our central office that on snow days, all “emergency” staff need to report to school. The line that stood out most was that we need to be “good stewards of taxpayer’s money.” I have never been one to shy away from work. I really love my job. The question I have is whether or not being “at” school is really all that important on days when school isn’t in session. I know that my contract says that I am a 12-month employee, but with a District provided laptop and cell phone, access to my school files, and a wireless connection what is the purpose of actually “being” at school? If I can do everything that I need to do from home, why do I need to be at school?

Some may say, “Because we are paying you to be there.” Herein lies the problem. With no students in the building, what is the role of an administrator on a snow day? In my case, it was a day to catch up on some dissertation work that I had been putting off for awhile.

As I write this, I am anticipating a new school year beginning in about two weeks. I get excited about getting back to work and seeing all the kids and staff, but something that always is in the back of my mind is my family. I have a daughter who will be starting 1st grade, a son who will be entering preschool, and a wife who will also be going back to her classroom as a mild/moderate SPED teacher. I am sure that a number of educators go through this, but sometimes I think that so much time is spent educating/parenting other people’s kids, that my own kids get the scraps that are left over. I went through the same thing with my parents who were both educators. I understood very early on that they both loved me and would do everything for me, but I think that takes a certain kind of personality. What happens if you don’t have that?

My wife and kids are everything to me. There aren’t enough words to describe my love for them. I do realize that my job consumes me sometimes and it is a struggle to find balance. As an administrator it is necessary to look at things objectively and keep things in perspective. Does anyone have a solution on how to do this when other things in your life our out of balance?

True story. I had a parent complain that I was harping on her daughter by questioning her about a stolen hoody at school. Daughter didn’t have any details, but knew the names of some others who might have done it. Daughter filled out an affidavit and I followed up with the other students. Later in the day, mom (who I now call psycho-mom) called and raked me over the coals for even talking to her daughter. She said that I had no right to do so without her present and I certainly had no right to have her fill out an affidavit.  Apparently this mother has never heard of in loco parentis, which is my favorite line to use with parents like this. Bottom line, in her eyes, her daughter never does anything wrong and is the center of the universe. I have no problem with this, because I feel the same way about my kids. The difference is that my kids are in preschool and kindergarten and they are perfect for their age. This woman’s daughter is in high school and apparently has effectively pulled the wool over her mother’s eyes. After psycho-mom’s ass-chewing was over, I moved on.

Not more than two weeks later, I was talking to another student about making inappropriate sexual comments. The kind of comments that would definitely get you fired in the real world. Who were those comments geared towards you might ask? None other than the spawn of psycho-mom. Of course, she had to chime in with how to discipline the young man and bent my ear for over an hour.

The result was a long-term suspension and the parents took me to a hearing to get the suspension reduced. During the hearing, notes were presented by the young man in the handwriting of “the perfect little princess.” Let’s just say that psycho-mom’s spawn could make some money on phone sex if she really wanted to.

Did I share the info with mom? No, but I have the notes stowed away for a special occasion if an event calls for it.

Much to my surprise, my facebook account got hacked tonight and messages were sent to all of my contacts linking to a porn video. I spend so much of my time in the office teaching kids about being responsible and not using facebook or MySpace to spread gossip or harass others. Touche I say.

USA Today posted an article about Military-backed Public Schools and the protesting that is going along with them. Across the country, the branches of the military are partnering with schools to offer ROTC opportunities to students who lack discipline, structure, and long-term goals. Bill McHenry, who runs the Junior ROTC program for the Marines states, “Many kids in our country don’t get a fair shake. Many kids live in war zones. Many kids who are bright and have so much potential and so much to offer, all they need to be given is a chance,” McHenry said. “If you look at stats, what we’re doing now isn’t working.”

According to the article, “The academy would be much like a typical high school, except students would wear ROTC uniforms and start each day with a military formation and inspection. Besides Spanish club and debate team, students can sign up for military drill team and color guard. The school’s principal likely will be a retired Marine.” Critics of this state that the military is using public schools as breeding grounds for the proliferation of our military, while proponents state that it is an avenue that students can pursue that is normally not available.

I say why not? Schools all over the country are starting academies that allow students to earn college credit and workforce experience  to prepare them for life after high school. Why shouldn’t the military be an option as well. To deny students opportunities because their are folks who disagree with the ideology is ludicrous.  I disagree with corporations trying to take over schools and run them like a business, but I am not going to begrudge students an opportunity to learn about business and finance. When I read this article, I didn’t think about how I disgree with the war in Iraq, but rather, I thought about a great opportunity for students to explore a possible career interest that will allow them to travel the world. I thought about the movie A Few Good Men in the memorable courtroom scene when Jack Nicholson tells Tom Cruise, “That although my existence may disgust you, you need me on that wall.” You don’t have to like the military, but they are a needed entity for our country and to deny students an opportunity to explore the armed services is doing our country more harm than good.

I want to change the viewpoint of what a school administrator is. Pop culture has a funny way of distorting education and making it into a movie that confines teaching to a set of bad or misguided kids being saved by one particular teacher with noble intentions. Somewhere along the way, both the kids and the teacher learn something about one another and in the end, everyone is hugging one another and the film is the feelgood movie of the year. The reality is that it takes a village to raise a child and it takes multiple teachers to shape the lives of a student. Unfortunately for me, very few administrators get leading roles in films. When they do get a cameo, they typically give principals a bad name. Case in point, Richard Vernon, the principal from the 80s cult classic The Breakfast Club. Here you have a guy who went out of his way to torture high school kids because he wanted to be on a power trip. To be honest, what the kids did to get in that Saturday School is pretty minor compared to the things I see in my office on a daily basis, but nonetheless, it is another classic example of how the media prepares kids to question authority and to make out school principals as idiots wearing leisure suits they ripped off from Barry Manilow.

On the flip side, you have Joe Clark from the movie Lean on Me. He provides the authority figure that a principal needs to be, but he lacks compassion for his staff which makes education possible. He is a likeable character, but the entire movie is spent on an us versus them conflict between administration and staff.

Why do I write about this you might ask? The answer lies in the fact that if we are to change education, we need to change the way it is viewed. One of the biggest problems with education is that everyone is an expert because everyone has experience with it because they attended at one time. This can’t be said for a whole lot of other professions. People make judgements about schools based on their own personal experience they had. The problem with this is that after they are out of school, they don’t need to go everyday, so they can be haphazard in their judgements. Real change needs to occur at the building level and not from decisions made on high in Washington.

So I ask you this. What was your high school experience like? How was your high school principal viewed? In your ideal world, what kind of school do you want to send your own child to?

As I attempt to enter the blogging world, I find it difficult to wrap my head around things I should write about. I’ve been reading blogs daily for about three years, but never really made the leap into my own thoughts until now. What caused this metamorphasis? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I never really see a lot of principals blogging. Sure, I see a few here and there, but nothing mind blowing and certainly none that really get to the issues that I want to read about.

So here is my attempt at starting something that is relevant to me and hopefully will provide insight into a world that a lot of teachers call “the dark side” of education. As a classroom teacher, I was in control of my own little world. I had my students, my lessons, my room, etc. Now as an administrator, I have to look at things holistically and programatically all while trying to strive for continuous improvement. With that being said, the purpose of this blog is not to write about my own personal issues, but rather, issues that face education today and how schools need to get up-to-speed in the 21st century. I don’t think that I will ever be able to completely separate my own feelings or philosophies from the issues that I discuss, but that is the great thing about this blog. I own it, so I can say what I want. I hope all that read this will challenge me as much as I hope to challenge them.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Principals of Education (pun intended). If you ever wanted to know what really goes on in the principals office, here is your chance to see.