This coming school year I will have a new role: Interim Elementary Principal. Last spring I was asked to fill in the position of elementary principal for the coming school year, while our principal takes a sabbatical. To help prepare I applied and was accepted to attend the Christian School International (CSI) Educational Leadership Development Institute(ELDI) at Cedar Springs in Sumas, WA. A special thank you to the sponsors who support CSI and make this opportunity available to educators. My heartfelt gratitude to the five facilitators, Al Boerema, Henry Contant, Jeff Blamer, Elco Vandergrift and Darlene Eerkes who provided much food for thought, keep us actively engaged and poured into our lives for 4+full days. I am also thrilled to have made new connections with educational leaders in Canada and the US. This was and is part of a continuing journey of learning and growing as a leader. I know that although I only plan on being principal for one year, God has called me and placed me in various leadership positions that will continue after the present school year. I also want to thank Brian VanderHaak and Anda Foxwell for their encouragement and support to attend ELDI. So what have I learned and what am I still processing? I have realized that this will need to be a series of posts or I will never get it posted. There is just TOO MUCH to process at once. So here is the beginning.
What is the most important thing I should be as a leader?
A student of the Word! Who I am, is more important than what I do as a leader. My first commitment needs to be to God, to be in His Word and in communication with Him. Jeff shared several devotionals from Psalm 23 with wonderful photos and stories of his travels to the Holy Land. The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know the shepherd’s voice. May my days be filled with hearing His voice. This is the first item I want to be accountable for.
There are probably as many different job descriptions of a principal as there are people who you ask. Henry had us work in groups to write the 5 most important things a principal does. It was quite the challenge. After we finished our posters, he gave us a list of 20 items and asked us to rank the top 5 and bottom 5. Even within our groups the only one that we all agreed upon was #20 – Work on the busing schedule. Many of us had the same top 5, but in various order. Depending on the time of year, day of the week or even time of day, the job description can change, but regardless of the season, date or time a principal should be a spiritual and educational leader. The principal needs to nurture the staff and provide educational leadership to staff and parents.
Several years ago when I started this blog, I needed to create a logo for the courses I was taking at the time. I chose the words “Empowering, Encouraging, Equipping.” As principal those three words are still how I hope to lead. I have 3 pinecones in my office as a reminder.
Empowering staff to step up in leadership roles within our division. We already have three different book discussions that will be taking place with various staff helping to facilitate those discussion. Having staff members share strategies, lessons, projects and ideas at our meetings where we can celebrate successes and learn together from our failures will hopefully empower other staff to try new things. I want to encourage staff and students to try new ideas, to take risks and to hang in there when the going gets tough. Encouraging parents as we partner together to educate their children will happen through continued Parent Cafe`s. Our school mission statement includes the following: “… equips students to impact the world for Christ.” One of the priorities that was discussed at ELDI was for the principal to help focus the staff on the vision and mission of the school. Even as I prepare for our beginning meetings I keep coming back to the question “How will you accomplish the mission of equipping students to impact the world for Christ?” Another item I want to be held accountable for is to keep coming back to the question: “How does …(mapping, that strategy, teaching vocabulary, etc) help equip students to impact the world for Christ?” Jacquie Willson, my predecessor started a practice of going into the classrooms to read “Mrs. Willson’s Favorites.” This summer I have been gathering a collection of books that I hope to share with students in their classrooms. I will also continue my position as elementary technology integration specialist and so I am excited to continue working with students in the classroom to equip them to impact the world for Christ.
So to begin the year, I want to be held accountable for:
- Spending time in the Word daily and to be praying for the staff and students.
- Nurturing staff, students and parents by Empowering, Encouraging and Equipping them.
- Blogging on a regular and consistent basis!
- Continually asking myself and my staff, “How do … help to equip students to impact the world for Christ?”
Photos by Jean.