The Principal's Office
Andrea Craigie - Principal, Herons Crossing School
“Raise your hand if anyone has ever said to you, ‘don’t get sent to the Principal’s office!!”?
This is a question I ask Kindergarten classes when I introduce myself at the beginning of every year. This year, as in ALL other years, most hands went up. Of course, friends and family members usually say this to their little ones in jest, but it still makes me sad!
I continue the conversation by teaching these new, young students that my office – and the whole office in general – is NOT a place to be feared. I tell them I feel very lucky to have the job I do. Yes, sometimes I must help students solve problems or talk about the choices they’ve made, so they’ll hopefully make different choices in the future, but overall that is NOT all a Principal does! I encourage them to know that all the office staff love children and want to help, even “The Principal”. At that point, I can usually get them to agree I don’t look very scary! (Having a Golden Retriever Therapy Dog by my side also doesn’t hurt, but that’s another blog, for another day.)
It doesn’t help that, with few exceptions, Hollywood and TV networks tend to portray principals, and teachers, as either frightening or else bumbling and foolish. Interestingly, educators who are portrayed on-screen as “heroes” are often in movies based on true stories. There are so many unacknowledged true stories out there.
Each with their own personal style, school administrators (principals, assistant principals and vice principals) are in the fortunate position of leading a whole school. While I used to be a teaching generalist I am now in a parallel role, but instead of a class of students I get to engage the entire school. As administrators, we get to build relationships with all staff and spend time with students and their families. I love my role being spread across all the hallways, classrooms and other learning spaces, then into the playground, out onto the soccer fields and alongside the school buses.
With our students at the forefront, administrators are empowered to make impactful instructional and budgetary decisions to influence pedagogy and ensure student wellness and achievement. We get to participate in all the accomplishments and ensure our community celebrates these alongside us. And these are only a very few examples from our job description. School administrators play a major role in both school culture and climate, which in turn translates to the success of our students. To stereotypically view us solely as disciplinarians is to do us a disservice.
If you’re someone who has ever innocently erred in teasing kids about principals being intimidating, I invite you to break the cycle and not perpetuate this inaccurate portrayal any longer.
I also invite you into The Principal’s Office at “my” school. Amazing things happen there!