A Principal’s Thoughts While Driving
I spent all day with seven students. We left the parking lot at 5:45 this morning and arrived back in the same lot at 6:45 this evening. Thirteen hours of my day—almost seven of them driving a bus—were dedicated to only seven students. Those seven students learned leadership and life lessons at a day-long training at the Arkansas Outdoor School at the 4-H Center outside of Little Rock. It was a day well spent.
Yesterday I also dedicated a whole day to only seven students, but this was not by design, and it certainly was no field trip. It was investigations and discipline and eventually ISD.
The life of a principal consists in large part of managing a large group of people (many of whom do not want to be there), maintaining order and discipline, ensuring that school happens every day, every class period, from bell to bell. I often remark that if everybody behaved and if there were no problems, I really wouldn’t have a job; so even on the hard days, I go home thankful, knowing I am needed.
A principal is, regardless of whether it is a leadership day or a disciplinarian day, a problem solver. Take this Monday morning, for example. After a school-wide celebration (M Awards) of our top achievers, the counselor, two teachers, and I convened an hour-long attendance committee meeting for seniors, looking at those students who had excessive absences. We had to determine what was the best way to maintain order and attendance without completely destroying a senior’s ability to graduate. A couple hours later, I met for an hour with our Alternative Education (AE) director and the counselor to look over the referrals for next year’s AE program. We hope to help some of our at-risk students to get caught up and back on track.
Problems—How do we best respond to students who succeed? And how do we respond to students who don’t? No two students are alike. No two groups of students are the same. But all need the same thing: challenge, support, and the ability to rise to the next level, to go beyond where they are—whether that be in trouble or training in leadership—so that they can continue forward to better things.
I owe my best to both kinds of students, as well as every student that lies between.