Monthly Archives: May 2014
If You Work in a School…
If you work in a school…you matter. Don’t think for a second that you don’t. (When a principal uses a double negative in a sentence you know he means business.) If you work in a school you touch hearts and minds every day. If you work in a school you make a difference.
Seeing how our staff works together on a daily basis…often quietly and behind the scenes…is one of many humbling privileges I have. As principal, I feel an obligation to share some of these stories; primarily because I’m also a dad and I would want to know. I would want to know about the people and stories that were being woven in my own children’s minds. I would want to know the “whos” and “whats” of their day.
Perhaps at dinnertime tonight you can ask your child a different question. Instead of asking, “What did you learn today?” Try asking, “Can you tell me about Darryl?”
Our beloved custodian, Darryl, is part of the “Greenwood Story.” He’s a quiet hero that’s always been willing to drop anything and serve. Darryl was given a wonderful opportunity to serve in a new position in our district and we are so happy for him. He will be missed dearly in our school, but his story and impact will go on because he did more than come to work each day; he impacted our building culture. Darryl’s spirit and sacrificial approach to work will be carried like a torch by other quiet heroes in our building.
If you have a chance to watch the video above you’ll likely see a wonderful and humble man doing a “final lap” around our school and giving out friendly high fives to others. I hope you’ll also see the difference he made in our staff and students’ lives. Check out the 2:08 minute mark on the video and watch how excited one of our students is to connect with Darryl.
If you work in a school you matter…don’t think for a second that you don’t!
Principal for a Day
This past week was full of learning and special memories. We captured a few memories in the “Principal for a Day” video above. Highlights from the special day included:
Recognizing several students for special accomplishments including our Carnival MineCraft design winner, Sam. He entered the creation above into the school logo category and designed a massive grizzly bear and balloon. For anyone that’s ever used MineCraft, you know that the creation took lots of time and planning!
Accepting a very special book donation from one of our students. Zach shared a book about space that was written and autographed by Buzz Aldrin! The book will be available in our Media Center for others to check out.
Attending the 1st grade music program. The concert was the last 1st grade concert that Mrs. Gardner will lead. After many years of dedicated service, Mrs. Gardner is retiring. Thank you for the memories and fostering a life-long love of music in our students. (I had the privilege of taking a “Selfie” with Mrs. Gardner right before the show…she’s always such a great sport, and she shared that it was the first “Selfie” photo that she’d been in.
Thank you to everyone that shared some of their memories and meaningful moments as part of our Greenwood Greats Teacher Appreciation Week. Be sure to check-out the huge banner with our community’s stories posted in the main entryway. Don’t forget to follow our school’s hashtag #GWgreats to see some additional messages from our students.
For the Kids
School branding is a hot topic in education and for good reason; our students are counting on us to be crystal clear about who we are serving and what matters most. School leaders must advocate for kids with every decision that’s made. This includes decisions about a school’s “brand.”
When it comes to your school’s brand, do not make people guess! Share the stories of the amazing students and staff in your school.
It’s important to understand what I mean when I use the term school branding. A school’s brand is synonymous with its ethos and culture. It’s more than a mascot or motto. The brand is comprised of the student learning experience, stellar staff, parent partnerships, and community support. A school’s brand is also a promise. The brand promise is what we openly aspire to be, and with this promise comes a unique level of transparency and accountability.
A school’s brand is comprised of the total experience of stakeholders; it represents the very ethos of a school including past traditions and future direction.
As principal and lead learner at Greenwood Elementary I have the privilege of seeing some of the most talented students and staff in action every single day. I’ve done a lot of listening, observing, and reflecting the past four years at our school. I’m extremely excited by our district’s vision and equally excited by the direction our school is heading. The image above represents what I think our brand is all about. Let me explain…
- Great Students: Our school’s brand is all about kids; they come first. Period. Spend some time in our classrooms and hallways and you’ll see what I mean. We take the responsibility of partnering with families to raise great kids very seriously. We invest in their capacity to think critically, celebrate their effort, nurture their hearts, and help them learn from mistakes that are made along the way. We understand that to be successful in the future our students are relying on us to foster 21st century skills. They’re depending on our foresight and support as they learn how to create, communicate, and innovate in a digitally connected age. We love our students enough to adapt ourselves as learners so we’re better equipped to serve them!
- Great Staff: Research has shown a very strong link between teacher quality and student achievement. Research also demonstrates that the relationships teachers form with students serve as critical underpinnings to learning. In layman’s terms, teachers matter and they matter a lot. Greenwood’s staff understands the awesome responsibility associated with being a teacher. On a personal level, I consider teaching one of the highest callings…only surpassed by the important work that moms do. We are blessed to have great teachers at our school and they help deliver on our brand’s promise. We also want to attract the very best employees to work with our children. A school’s brand not only represents its staff, but also communicates its values to prospective employees. This spring I’ve had the opportunity to interview dozens of job applicants. I’ve found that some of the most impressive candidates know exactly what they want in a school and district. They are paying attention to the brand.
- Great Stories: Stories are an integral part of our culture. Stories teach us lessons, celebrate accomplishments, and pass along the values we hold dear. It’s no different in schools. The amazing things our students are doing should be shared. We truly have some awesome kids in our school and district. Our students and staff work too hard for us to ignore their stories or let somebody else tell them. A school’s brand must include the voices of the “difference makers” in the classroom that are making the magic happen each and every day. We are blessed to have an exemplary staff, amazing group of parents, and PTA that give generously of their time, talents, resources, and love for kids. They are helping us write the best story ever…our students’ story!
I absolutely love the willingness of students, staff, and our community to innovate and engage in possibility-thinking. We’re trying to connect in some new ways including the use of social media as a learning and communication tool. We’re putting students in the center of their own learning and it’s a paradigm shift. A 21st century pedagogy will look, feel, and sound differently than what we’ve come to believe education is. Our staff is immersing themselves in true “learning work” including integration of iPads as tools to enhance student learning, Project Based Learning, Flipped Instruction, Genius Hour, Math Workshop, and more. Together we’re amplifying our students’ voices and connecting kids with an authentic audience for their learning.
If you ask why a school would consider branding I would share one heartfelt answer, “For the kids.”