“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
-John Quincy Adams
Once in a while we get the opportunity to work with an amazing administrator. One who really understands and believes in kids, who trusts teachers as professionals, who learns alongside his or her students and staff, and who is a strong leader, empowering his or her teachers and students to be the best they can be. We feel respected as educators, are listened to when concerns arise and appreciated for the job we do every day as teachers.
And then they leave. They retire, or move to a different leadership role or get called to a different school where their leadership is needed. It’s how the education system works. We can only count on things to be somewhat static for a year at a time – and sometimes that doesn’t even happen.
I am the leader in our kindergarten classroom – even though much of my leadership is shaped and created through the interactions with my students, much like the leadership of a school is shaped and created by the teachers in that school. My wish for my students is to take all they learn in kindergarten and carry it into their lives. I won’t be with them, but I can hope that the hours spent reading aloud, playing together, sharing our stories and learning together for 180 days will stay with them and help shape who they are. I guess that’s how we can look at a good principal. The teachers at a school with strong leadership carry that strong leadership with them into their classrooms every day. And when that leader leaves, a piece of them stays with us – shaping who we are as teachers and who we are as a school.
This week has been an emotional one. My principal’s last day was yesterday. He is leaving to open a new school – a wonderful opportunity for him. I’m certain our county has picked the best person possible to start a school on a successful learning journey. While I am very excited for him, I’m sad that I won’t see his smiling face in my classroom every day, reading on the floor with kids, high-fiving kids in the hallway and sharing his passion for learning and teaching with us. He will be missed.
As we walked back to the classroom from our good-bye assembly, a very wise kindergartener held my hand and looked up at me. She said, “Ms. Katie, I know you’re sad Mr. Butler is leaving. But we still have all the teachers and Ms. Austin (our AP) to take care of us. It will be OK.”
She’s right. It will be OK. Our school has a strong foundation of collaboration, respect, caring, high expectations and continued learning. We are a team, committed to our kids. It’s who we are – a way of being. It will be OK.
Even when change is positive or for a good reason, it’s always hard to say goodbye to someone who has been such a positive for the school.