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Friday, August 30, 2013

And They All Live Happily Ever After

In case you didn't hear, we got our new principal.

When I wrote my fairy tale post a few weeks ago I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.  We had stormed the castle, but you never know.  There was always the fear that we could be punished for making so much noise by getting someone even worse.

I felt obligated to share with everyone how it appears to be going after the first week.


No joke.

I got lost in the office today because it felt different.  It didn't look any different- it just felt different.  I nearly walked into the restroom instead of the conference room.

Teachers are smiling.  As if they are lunatics.  Full faced smiles.  I wonder if their faces hurt after all the smiling I've seen.

They are skipping.

I kid you not.  I explained to two of my faves this morning that last year, when the 8:50 am bell before school would ring, the teachers would exit the building like a gang... all the grade levels coming out in a row... heads held low... lanyards around their necks... not a smile to be seen.. herding the poor children into the building for a day of worksheets.

This week-- SKIPPING.  They all have this little perk in their step.  There are sparkles in their eyes.

It's crazy.

There are hugs.

There is laughter.

Oh-- and there are crayons.

The crayons are back.

Sea Camp is back on the calendar.  During whale watching season.  AWESOME.

There is going to be a Battle of the Books.

The parent group is going to be committee focused- not just a few people running everything because it's easier for the principal to control them.  The meetings are even going to be after work hours so hopefully more parents can attend-- not just the 5-10 of us who always came.

All this and it's only week 1.

Now my concern is with the departure of some of the terrific families, we'll see the test scores drop.  And the crayons and all that fun might get blamed.

But I don't think that's going to happen.  The teachers are rejuvenated.  They are going to be able to adapt to the children in their classes and tailor what's best for their student population-- you know, what's the word.. yes, they are being allowed to teach.  Like it's a profession.  Because it is.

One week.

What a difference one person can make.

I don't know the principal well, but I've worked with people like him.  He's letting his team do what they are trained to do.  He has faith in them-- that they know what they are doing and they will choose to do the right thing. 

That's the difference between a manager and a leader.

I chatted with him briefly at the Meet-n-Greet-  actually I think I may have threatened to kiss him , but I hugged him instead-- and I'm not a hugger, by the way.  He started to say "I know in the past you used to have a formal presentation..." and I stopped him there and said "Any time someone says 'We used to do it that way' just assume you can throw it out. " And sadly, aside from 1-2 things, that's true.

Sad, isn't it?

There's  a part of me that's angry that I didn't speak up sooner-- didn't make more noise.  But to be honest, it didn't get bad until the past few years.  And I'm not at the school all the time so how was I to know? 

But it has reiterated to me that it IS important to take a stand for what you believe in.  One person can make a huge difference in people's lives.  Our new principal has completely changed our school- the tone, the spirit.  Teachers who once dreaded coming to work are skipping.  My children are already engaged and excited-- not complaining about a summer past.  One of the mothers who made calls and canvassed said her daughter is loving reading and is excited about going to school.

One week.

One person.

Don't ever think you are just a drop in the bucket.  If you've ever spilled a drop of coffee on a pair of white pants, trust me, one drop can make a big splash.

Our new principal has made a gigantic, positive splash.  And the assistant principal as well- she seems equally as fantastic.

And I hope that's how the story ends.

No, actually, how I hope the story really ends is that every school has a faculty like we do- with schools serving as a central community fixture educating our children, incorporating parents, and focusing on developing the whole child.

We don't need children who can answer questions, we need children who can ask questions.

That will make me live happily ever after.


Stephanie Schriver said...

YAY!!! That's WONDERFUL, Lori!

Mama Bean said...

I am so impressed with the district. If they can select, develop and train people like our staff, then there is hope!

My kids are smiling like they used to when they were going to kindergarten- before the joy got sucked out of the school.

I can't put my finger on something specific- it's everything.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant message Mama Bean. I want to come hug your principal as well.

One person makes a huge splash and that splash opens up teh psychological safety for others to start making their own splashes. Skipping teachers and engaged kids - that's a lot of splash potential. :-)

Mama Bean said...

I hope I live my life so that it's a Jackson Pollack by the time I'm done!

Anonymous said...

Sooooo I was just given wind of your Blog and although my heart is smiling for you, because I believe I know the principal you are speaking about...for alas, he used to be mine...but mine is what used to be yours...and now our heads are hanging down low...but I still have crayons...for now...

Mama Bean said...

I very genuinely think your new principal believes she is doing what is best for the kids. If that helps. Maybe? A little better?

And hold tight to the crayons.