Although my job changed from teacher/coach to elementary principal, my responsibility to motivate others to reach excellence remained the same. Our first staff meeting started with some of my favorite educational quotes, and Rita Pierson’s powerful message, “that every kid deserves a champion.” I wanted my staff to realize that building relationships will be critical to our success as a school. Every day we will strive to connect with our students through our positive interactions, meaningful curriculum, and parent communication.
After the motivational video, we, then, had a discussion on what it means to be a professional. We discussed the role our professional dress plays in creating an environment that displays excellence. As the principal of Central Intermediate, I believe everything we do, and everything we model is important. For this reason, I asked my teachers to model excellence in their attire. After a discussion, the staff agreed to raise their level of dress and thus far have done a wonderful job.
We ended the meeting watching, Dalton’s Sherman’s, keynote speech, on the importance of believing in every student. His speech reminded all of us that if we ever want students to reach their potential, we must believe in them. At Central we will take pride in having a growth mindset, a mindset that truly believes that every student can succeed. Dalton’s Sherman brought tears to our eyes as he encouraged us never to give up on the students because sometimes teachers are all they have. “You are the ones who feed us, who wipe our tears, who hold our hand, who hug us, and love us when it feels like no one else does” (Sherman 2008). At one time in our teaching career, we have witnessed what Dalton says. To show our students we believe in them, we will raise the bar for all our students, and do whatever it takes to help them reach success.
The tone had been set for the 2013-2014 school year, and the teachers were ready to inspire our students to Choose Excellence. On the first day of student attendance, the students rotated through stations to learn behavior expectations of PBIS. Students were engaged and modeled the appropriate behavior all week. We went through the student handbook using multimedia and an interactive discussion. Students were encouraged to reach excellence through a positive attitude, a strong commitment, and a great effort. So far the students of Central are showing they are making the choice to CHOOSE EXCELLENCE EVERY DAY!
If the first week is an indicator of how the year goes, we are going to have an outstanding year!