My Hopes as an Assistant Principal

This upcoming school year I will begin my journey as an Assistant Principal. I am filled with feelings of gratitude and enthusiasm; I am honored to have the opportunity to serve and to learn from such a remarkable administrative team and staff.

Throughout my experience as a leader, while taking on various leadership roles within the school community, I have grown and developed my vision and beliefs. I know that without a doubt, I will continue to do as I learn even more within my new role. I look forward to what my insights will be and how I will evolve.

But for years, I have written down my goals, dreams, and questions to keep in mind when I continue to help make decisions for kids, staff, families, and the school.

This past week, while visiting my new school, I saw that our Head Principal had this amazing question posted on her door- “This principal will ask what is best for kids?”

Her question inspired me and sparked an idea. I decided today to put my goals, dreams, and questions into an acronym that will display some of the internal and external questions I will ask myself and others; Since we are a Leader in Me School, I felt that the word “leader” was a good fit.


Here is my draft copy that I will continue to revise and post on my office door. I want to live by these questions each day. I do not plan on simply asking others these questions because these prompts are for myself just as much. By posting these questions, I hope to make them more visible and real, while holding myself accountable.

  • L – Are we LOOKING towards the future?
  • E – Are we doing what is best for EACH child?
  • A – How can I be ATTENTIVE and help?
  • D – Are we focusing on the DISCOVERY and joy of learning?
  • E – How can we EMPOWER our students, staff, and families to lead?
  • R – What are we doing RIGHT, yet how can we improve?

Closing thought: Thank you to everyone who has lifted me up, inspired me, believed in me, and given me the opportunities of leadership that have helped prepare me for this moment. I am eternally grateful.

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5 Characteristics of People Who Inspire Others

Nothing refreshes the soul more than being around another human being who inspires and lifts you to new dimensions. I yearn for these moments of inspiration and feel fortunate to feel inspired each day.

When I think of people who have inspired me in the past and present, they tend to embody these five traits (along with many others). In no particular order, here are characteristics that inspire others to be all they can be:

1. Servant Heart

The best leaders are the best servants. The most inspiring people are the people who love others with all their heart and all they are. Servant leaders make you feel that they will drop anything at any time to help you and to love you, without any expectations. Servants are fountains and not drains; They aim to lift people UP as a result of their presence.

       2. Brave

All progress begins with someone who is brave. I like to think that we were all called to be bold. But, when we think of someone who is brave, we often imagine a warrior geared in steel, ready to fight for war. But, bravery does not always look like this because bravery is seen even in the smallest circumstances.

Furthermore, being brave does not mean that you are not scared. Bravery often means that inside you are trembling and terrified, but you do the right thing anyways.

It is also important to note that people who are brave are more likely to be risk-takers. Individuals who are courageous understand that once you fail, you do not fail forever.

       3. Vulnerable

Love and vulnerability are the only bridges that can unite us.  When people express an unpopular belief, try something new, ask for help, and admit that they made a mistake, they are vulnerable. Being open and vulnerable allows you to be seen, but that exposure can be enough to scare us away.

Yet, ironically enough, when you are around vulnerable people, you become more naturally vulnerable as a result. Seeing others share often gives you permission to do the same. People who “dare greatly,” as author Brene Brown puts it, can be the catalyst to help themselves and others be all they can be.

       4. Accepting of Others

When we think of the idea of accepting others, there is more to it than we would like to admit. Accepting others is not:

  • Being tolerant
  • Making sure others do things that “make you happy”
  • Directing others to be more like you
  • Having people do things your way

Accepting others for who they are is a life-long skill that we must practice daily to evolve in our practice. Being graced in the presence of someone who is accepting gives others permission to be EVERYTHING they are.

People are more likely to grow and be the best versions of themselves when they are near a team of people who accept them for who they are from the beginning.

       5. Tenacious

Those who are tenacious are persistent and exude determination. When they have opportunities to give up, they do not take them. These individuals do take a moment to breathe and regain their vision, but they always keep their eye turned to the future.

It is important to note that people who are tenacious are not tenacious solely for the purpose to be relentless. Their tenaciousness is focused around values and visions that they hold dear. More often than not, their values are centered around serving the people, community, and the world around them.


What traits do you think that I could I add to the list? Who are people who inspire you to be all you are? 


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The Tough Stories That Deserve to Be Told

Image Credit: oprah.com

Teaching is hard. Leading is hard. Both roles are meaningful and worth it, but that does not make them any less difficult.

Although I believe in perseverance and positivity, I also believe in being authentic. Some of the tough stories that we are coping with as educators and leaders can weigh us down if we do not have the opportunity to share them.


I will never forget my first year of teaching. I was working at a low-income school, and my class was filled with a dynamic mix of behaviors and needs. One particular student in my class was destructive to the classroom, to staff members, and to students on a daily basis. I was genuinely scared. But, on the surface, I held it all together and did whatever I could to keep the other students safe. Staff members in the school knew how tough this situation was and praised how well I was handling it, especially since I was a first-year teacher at the time.

Inside, I felt hopeless and terrified. I kept a smiling face on and was as proactive as possible with what was going on, but I did not expect to encounter this experience during my first year of teaching. Although I appreciated the praise from others, all I wanted was a shoulder to cry on or a person that I could tell my worries to. However, since I had a handle on the situation, others seemingly thought that I was doing just fine on my own.


I think many of us have similar stories like this that we can relate to within our career.

Sometimes positive and tenacious spirits can be the best attribute, but it can also be your Achille’s heal.

We sometimes assume that if we are usually a positive person, that we cannot open up and share struggling points; That by sharing something negative that is happening to us, that it also makes us negative. We also think that if we share our pitfalls, that we then place that burden on someone else; So, to avoid this, we handle it ourselves.

But, I know now from experience that we cannot put the weight of the world single-handedly on our backs as educators and leaders. We can remain positive and determined, yet still share our tough stories with someone else. This is what makes us real. This is what makes us all authentic. We are all going through struggles and we are not alone.

From my background with leading new teacher induction programs to leading curriculum and department teams, to working hand-in-hand with teachers on a variety of grade levels, I have gained much valued insight. It is a beautiful thing to share the successes of your day and what is going right. But, also, sometimes what people need is a listening, trusting, non-judging, and open ear willing to hear anything and everything.

As Maya Angelou says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” We understand that quote as it relates to our students entirely but resist the urge to apply it to our personal story. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable.

Taking this idea further, take a deeper look at the people around you and find ways to lighten the burden of others as well. Lifting others up can be the most effective way to lift your spirits as well.

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A Dynamic World Requires Dynamic Classrooms

We live in a dynamic world today; there is no question about that; The digitalization and globalization of the world we have grown to know are unlike anything we have ever seen.

Students are growing up in a highly competitive world full of uncertainties. For example, jobs that our kids will be applying for in years to come are jobs that have not even been discovered yet, methods for digital communication and collaboration continue to improve and diversify, and innovation across the globe continues to surprise us all in areas of STEM, medical research, education, business, and beyond.

We do not know what is going to happen in the future. As this YouTube video titled, 21st Century Education, states “the pace of change is staggering.” The movement of change has accelerated to speeds that leave educators feeling weary and often confused on where to go next when equipping students for the future that seems to look like an ENORMOUS question mark.

The truth is that we do not have to know all of the answers. Teachers in previous years did not know what would occur in the future either, but they continued persevering for the betterment of the students they served.

We often forget to consider the determination, hard work, and advocacy that many educators positively imprinted on our professions even before our time.

Just look at the old school house picture above. Some may see this picture and think of outdated teaching practices, but I like to see the history of teaching and learning.

Although teaching is changing faster than ever before, change has always transpired in the scope of education. I believe it is crucial that we acknowledge and recognize the educators, leaders, and philosophers who advocated for progressive education, which laid the foundation for us to be successful now.

PBS Online compiled an incredibly informative timeline that highlights the history of teaching from 1772 to present day. Take a look at the timeline if you want to feel rejuvenated from 20th-century educators like John Dewey who fought for student-centered education. Some of these ideologies that we are seeking today, were similar conditions educators wanted then, but they were based on different contexts. As PBS states,

John Dewey, perhaps the most influential educational philosopher the 20th century, challenged the rigidity that characterized many American classrooms. By the 1920s he had become the standard-bearer for Progressive Education, arguing that democracy must prevail in the classroom. Both teachers and children needed to be free, he argued, to devise the best forms of learning for each child. These assumptions turned the hierarchy of classrooms and schools upside down. While the implementation of progressive education has been uneven over the past 100 years, its influence on teachers’ roles within schools has been notable.

John Dewey also brilliantly says, “Education, therefore, is a process of living, not a preparation for future living.” 

Notice the two keywords I bolded above: free and process.

I think Dewey was onto something BIG . Although it is our diligent responsibility as educators to prepare our students for the future, we cannot forget that education is a process and a JOURNEY. Let us still use technology with a purpose, connect students with a global audience, give students opportunities to create, and transform our teaching processes. Except, let us always keep in mind that although we want our students to be as dynamic as the world around them, we cannot expect this to happen overnight because growing for the future never truly ends.

Let us also to continue to allow freedom and openness in our voyages as we navigate the newness and uncertainty of what will happen next.  After all, this only makes sense- Dynamic students and adaptable students will always go hand-in-hand; You cannot have adaptability without future-ready or future-ready without adaptability. 

Here is to YOU– The dynamic educators who came before us, the dynamic leaders who stand beside us, and the dynamic students who will continue to change the world.

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Reverse Innovation: Do More with Less

I live for lessons and ideas that I can apply to all areas of my life; Reverse Innovation is one of those transformational ideas.

To give you a short backstory, a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a TED Talk from

Vijay Govindarajan titled “Reverse Innovation.” Needless to say, I was pulled in instantaneously. I thoroughly enjoy learning from global experts in all areas: business, finance, leadership, education, and more. We often stay in our own bubble of expertise to a fault. I have found that there is a plethora of learning that can take place from listening to the successes, and trials, from those in other professions.

While watching Govindarajan’s TED talk, I was hooked. Although his principles mainly apply to the global economy, they can truly be transferable to a myriad of pursuits, careers, and passions. I also recommend reading Govindarajan’s book, Reverse Innovation: Create Far from Home, Win Anywhere.
The above infographic depicts a few of my favorite points from Govindarajan:
  • “Do a lot more with a lot less”
  • “Change from value for money to value for many (people)”
  • “Be curious about all problems”
  • “Think ambitions over expectations”
  • “You cannot unlock new opportunities by using the same logic” 
These concepts are written effortlessly, yet have a much more complex meaning. Furthermore, the meaning of these interpretations can change drastically based on the perspective you bring to the table.
Govindarajan even shares real stories of how reverse innovation is changing the developing world by offering “universal access to world-class quality” at low prices that are unheard of. For example, a $30 artificial leg was made using recycled plastic yogurt cups from Thailand doctors; Can you imagine? Miraculous innovations are occurring all around the world, even in unlikely places.

Applying the Concepts to Education

With tightening budgets and growing expectations for educators, one may find it difficult to transpose the above ideas to education. There always seems to be more things we want for our students, yet not enough money to make it all happen on the surface. But still, educators all over the world are finding ways to be innovative and “doing more with less” while focusing on the people, ambitions, and opportunities before anything else.  For example, design thinking, Project Lead the Way, STEM, Makerspaces, and Cardboard Challenges are just some of the ways teachers are advocating for these ideas by using inexpensive items like legos, cardboard, and ducktape.
I am curious to learn from you: How are you, your colleagues, or your school “doing a lot more with a lot less?
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