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National Principals Month: Five Big Memories of the Principalship

October is National Principals Month and I want to celebrate all our amazing principals across the country. Being the principal is a hard job. But it’s also an amazing job. I was incredibly blessed to be the principal at Rock Springs High School in southwest Wyoming for 6 years. In that time, I learned a lot about leadership, what truly mattered, and how to get clear and focused for short term success and long term vision. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself and I grew and improved in the role.

First off, let’s look at the challenges faced by today’s principals:

  • Extreme demands on your time
  • Managing the budget
  • Staff and community relationships
  • Managing student behavior
  • Managing adult behaviors
  • Managing angry parents
  • Limited personnel
  • Politics
  • Expectations to ‘fix it’
  • And so much more

When you look at this list of stressors, much of which isn’t on the formal job description, you might wonder why someone would willingly say yes to a job with these demands. First, let’s be honest, principals are educators at their core. Sure, they all have different driving reasons for making the leap into administration. But these are people who have a deep-seeded desire to make an impact in the lives of kids. I will tell you that, as the principal, I felt like I made an amazing impact and built so many great relationships with kids, and adults, that will last a lifetime. The memories from being the principal, those moments in time that left freeze frame images on my mind’s eye, are so much more important to me that any money I made or recognition I received. I loved being a high school principal. To underline that more, here are some of my favorite moments during my run as principal:

  1. Being my daughter’s principal – nothing can compare to being at school day after day and seeing your child in the hallways, classrooms, and competing in their event (dance for my daughter).
  2. Best foot forward – be it Friday night under the lights, on stage in the auditorium, the art museum, or other venues, seeing students put their best foot forward, having the confidence to compete/display/demonstrate/perform it filled my cup and made me feel like the proud father of 1400.
  3. Renaissance rallies – nothing brought the energy like recognizing, rewarding, and reinforcing the awesome things kids were doing in the classroom, with their behavior choices, and citizenship. Cranking up the volume, following the lead of our students who planned the rally, all while laughing and celebrating the reasons we were all there…student success and growth.
  4. Hallways – adding the benches into our hallways gave space and ownership to our students. Sitting on those benches gave me an office that wasn’t my office. So many amazing conversations, moments of laughter, a few moments of tragedy and tears, and memories.
  5. First and last – the first day of school has a special level of energy. Being the guy at the front door and seeing that energy, the excitement, anticipation of the year to come…WOW! The same holds true for the end. Man, I really loved graduation. Hugging and congratulating those young men and women as they headed off into the world was truly a gift I was given…I miss those days.

Principals – it can be so easy to get lost in the overwhelm (that is actually the topic of this week’s PepTalk) but remember those positives. Know that you are making a difference. Know that you are appreciated. Know that you are seen, heard, valued, and trusted by this recovering high school principal.

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


Tune in this week to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is two-time Principal of the Year Dr. Jay Dostal.

To celebrate National Principals Month, we are running a special promotion on my book Road to Awesome: The Journey of a Leader. Hit the link and use the code FOBA to get the book for only $20 and free shipping. Click here to purchase the autographed copy. 

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