Today was the first day of the new school year but it was also the first day of my tenure as principal of Blessed Pope John Paul II CSS: the same school where I was a VP just over two years ago; the same school where I was a student over 20 years ago. I would be lying if I said the prospect of taking on this role in this school was not a bit daunting but there is such an incredible sense of familiarity and family here that it also felt incredibly normal. The day started with a staff meeting that was fantastic and the subject of the next few paragraphs of this blog.
I never tire of seeing a staff on the first days. There is such energy and a sense of possibility for what the year holds. What can happen during the coming months? What can we all accomplish individually and more importantly, collectively? This is amazing and it became quite clear to me that my job is basically to offer as much support and guidance as possible to keep this momentum and positivity going. Of course there is a sense of adrenalin that one cannot sustain for the long haul of a 10 month school year, but I refuse to believe that the power of the “what if?” mentality is an illusion.
That meeting really got me to thinking about how we as an admin team, and me in particular as the principal can support the energy and sustain it through the litany of ministry initiatives and IB Self Studies and SSI meetings and District Reviews and…and…and…
Then it came to me as I was talking to a trusted colleague after school. We cannot shy away from these demands put on us, but truly embrace them and use them to accomplish what we want. Let’s look at the School Support Initiative as an opportunity for focussed learning inquiry where we are given the time and some of the resources to consider how we can better serve our students. Let’s make the considerable work of the IB Self Study be exactly that: a chance to study our own program and look for ways to innovate and evolve. Let’s embrace the process of District Review to focus our scope and to develop some common language, (around the School Effectiveness Framework), with which our enormous staff of 94 teachers can communicate and perhaps coordinate their learning.
There is no use fighting against the demands placed on us as they are there for a reason, instituted by some incredibly intelligent and “big picture” thinking people. They are there to give us the opportunity to be something that most of us in education lose sight of every so often: professionals. The very meaning of the word “professional” is to be reflective and critical of ourselves in the quest for improvement, innovation and inspiration. What a great opportunity and one that we need to embrace but at the same time, make sure that it is used to serve our community and not simply to serve as a checklist for ministry funding reports. That I guess, in the end, is my job and one that quite frankly, I am really looking forward to.