A few weeks ago, Jackie Knudson, a kindergarten teacher at Noddin Elementary School, and I presented at Annual CUE in Palm Springs. We had spent a few weeks preparing our presentation, titled "How to Build a Better Principal", and decided upon five key elements therein.
One of the five ways to Build a Better Principal was to only hire the very best. The best teacher. The best office assistant. The best assistant principal. The best basketball coach. The best everything. The "Better Principal" wants to have the very best educators interacting with their students each and every day.
I should briefly pause to share what I mean when I say "the best educator" as it may mean different things to different people.
To me, the best educators care about kids deeply. They give second chances but are also firm when necessary. They know that sarcasm rarely works with kids, especially not until a solid student-teacher relationship is built. They're also hard working and yet always looking to improve. They're the teachers you can ask something of and you'll probably hear a response that starts with "yes" and ends with "always willing to help". They're the current leaders of your school culture and the future administrative leaders of your schools.
One such teacher is our very own Alyssa Starr.
Alyssa schedule has her listed as teaching 6th grade Math & Science, but that's not what she does; she teaches kids how to be advocates for their own learning, guiding them from the perilous transition of elementary school to 7th grade. She's nothing short of fantastic. She's a silent leader on our campus. In the years I've known Alyssa, I don't think I've ever received a parent or student complaint. She's a true asset to Union Middle School.
Recently, Alyssa shared that she's looking for a bit of a change and would be applying for a kindergarten position in our district. Ironically perhaps, she's now scheduled to be a teaching partner of my CUE partner, Ms. Knudson. When I spoke with Jackie tonight about Alyssa's departure from Union Middle, she said, "Well, remember... we did say that the secret to building a better principal is to hire the best... we were just following your advice in having Alyssa join our team!"
And she's right. A principal needs to hire the very best... and if your teachers are on board with making it happen, even better.
So good for Noddin. They just got a top notch educator, a future leader in our profession.
And they left Union Middle with a huge staffing hole to fill...
But another rule about Building a Better Principal - Always have a plan.
(Part 2 shared a bit of the plan... read on)