Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dear New Principal

There you are with all of your hopes and dreams, your expectations, your trepidation, and a staff waiting eagerly to see how you are going to run things.  Will you be someone who comes in like a mouse or will you slug us all with your hammer of power?  What the future holds we can only guess but I know there are some  things we would love to say.

First, be kind.  We are new to you and we may need an adjustment period.  We know you have many changes and visions for our school but take some time to get to know us first.  Figure out the dynamics of our school and see what really works before you start to change and dismantle.  There are many powerful things happening that would be sad to see destroyed.

Second, know your way.  We want to be led by someone with a vision, someone who has convictions.  And yet, make sure your vision doesn't cloud your judgment.  Does it fit with our culture?  Does it fit with the community we get to call home?  Does it fit with us and you and all of the kids?  If yes, then go ahead, if not, then perhaps discuss, reflect and reevaluate.  For whom are these changes being made?

Third, make it about the children.  We have always been focused on the students and want to stay that way.  So get to know them as you get to know us, make yourself visible and always keep their interest in mind.  Trust me, the children would rather not be tested more or discussed as mere numbers on the wall.  They do not care what standard they are being taught right now but instead whether the curriculum is engaging, relevant and allows them a choice and voice.  They are complicated, delicate, curious beings that we are privileged to work with.  Relationship first, then we can get to the academics.

Don't exclude us but think of us as your team.  We want you to be successful as much as you want us to stay that way.  Believe in us and our crazy ideas.  Push us to do new things but know when to hold back and perhaps even hold our hand a little.  Trust us as professionals who do really want what is best for the kids but sometimes need some guidance.  Bring in new ideas but one at a time, let us figure out one before we rush into something new.  Don't micromanage but believe in our judgment and also in our dreams.  Make friends but don't create cliques, we are a family here and yes we may disagree but we take pride in who we are and what we create.  Trust us as professionals and defend our decisions if you agree with them.  Don't lose yourself in trying to please everyone.  Be fair but listen to all the sides, don't take sides whenever you can.

Don't punish when it doesn't fit the crime, whether student or staff.  Push us to excel and give us someone to look up to.  There are many leaders in this school but look for new ones as well, there are people here who who have such incredible ideas but never can find the words to share them.  Tell us when we do well, tell us when you notice something and do the same for the kids.

Welcome, new principal, I don't envy your position but we are excited to have you.  We hope you are everything we have hoped for.


5 comments:

Mrs. Tonnesen said...

What a great letter. I believe that it is one that could be included in every new principal's school survival kit for day one...

I believe we could write many letters in this way in our schools everywhere...what a conversation starter or team building activity for staff to engage in on a planning day before the students arrive in the fall...writing a letter to all students from the teachers and staff...what a powerful way to start off the year with beliefs and expectations...

Dear Student...

Anna said...

Thank you for creating this thoughtful letter.

I believe that those of us who have worked for many principals, know how difficult the job must be. But at the same time, we know that the principal sets the tone for the whole school.

I would add that a principal must know how to listen to us with respect while knowing when and how to make a definitive decision.

Mrs Ripp aka @pernilleripp said...

Thank you both for your comments. I find writing letters therapeutic as it allows me to get my own expectations in check as well. Every school year I create a letter to my students using Animoto as a way to welcome them into my family, I love making this and thinking about the year to come. You can see this year's here http://mrsripp.blogspot.com/2011/08/welcome-video.html

Anonymous said...

Dr. Aylsworth is all about students and their personal/academic needs. Dr. Aylsworth has the ability to "hear" staff, and communicate the needs of the students to his staff to get the best out of both. As a teacher's Principal, Dr. Aylsworth will take their formative and summative data to a whole new level. Dr. Aylsworth grew up in NE Iowa, studied at UNI, and has coursework at Harvard...bottom line is he gets it, and he gets young adults. Since he was in Future Farmers of America, he wanted this job, I know I work with him everyday. He was made for Carlisle, and will honor the traditions of the past and create new ones of the future. This community can trust that a leader with 21rst century thinking , and Iowa roots is ready for their challenge. I wish him the staff, and all Wildcats the best of luck in 12-13' -HMBL

Mrs Ripp aka @pernilleripp said...

Hi Anonymous, Thank you for the comment, I am not sure to whom you are referring but I will let the comment stand. That is definitely not the name of anyone I know.

 

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