Letter To An Assistant Principal

Leadership

Dear friend,

Thanks for the email letting me know that you’d been appointed as an assistant principal. Congratulations! I am not surprised that you’ve been given responsibility for discipline, and I was delighted that you asked me for some ideas as you start this new position.

As you know, I have been observing assistant principals and other school leaders for quite some time. It seems that assistants are usually given jobs like discipline and/or supervision of classified staff. In comparison with the bigger picture of educational leadership, being responsible for discipline or classified staff may not seem very important, and it’s tempting to take on the attitude that this lowly assignment is something that everyone has to endure on their way to being a principal–like an initiation or right of passage. This attitude blinds one to the leadership opportunities in these seemingly lowly assignments. I’d encourage you to avoid this “rite of passage” attitude and become a leader in the area of discipline. Don’t just endure—LEAD! Continue reading

Cocoon to Butterfly – The Metamorphosis of a School

Cocoon to Butterfly cover smallIntroduction

Several years ago when I accepted the job of principal at Yuba Feather Elementary School, a K-8 school in Northern California, I was told by a colleague that I was crazy to take the job. She told me that the atmosphere was hopelessly negative, that the staff was demoralized, and that students’ pride and interest in school were dismally low.

Having been given this advice and background information, I guess I was a little crazy, for I took the job. Despite the poor condition of the school, I sensed a powerful reservoir of potential. I saw a butterfly inside a tightly closed cocoon and believed a metamorphosis could happen. The metamorphosis of Yuba Feather School is something of a miracle? Today it is a school recognized through Northern California for its academic excellence, positive climate, and innovative atmosphere. The school has an award-winning writing program, a successful mastery learning “levels” math program, intense peer collaboration, a peer observation program, a highly successful literature-based reading program, a staff trained in teaching critical thinking, and an adult learning and problem solving environment for the teachers. Teachers from our school are sought out to make presentations locally and for other districts through Northern California. Two video films which focus on the Yuba Feather Writing Project have been distributed nationally and won first place in the 1986 National Education Film Festival. In 1986 the school was chosen as a California Distinguished School as a result of our students’ improved performance on the California Assessment Program test and our outstanding pride in their school.

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