Publisher: Alt Publishing
Almost all of us have experience with school, either as a student, a parent or maybe as a teacher. But few have the experience in school as a principal. Meet the Principal: My Journey Beyond the Curriculum is a collection of stories from the life of a principal. All principals have stories like these. Some are funny, some are sad, some may surprise you and some may touch your heart. When you put them together hopefully you will have experienced what happens in a school beyond the curriculum.
Read an Excerpt
"It was the day before students would arrive for the beginning of school and classroom assignments had already been posted in the windows of the lobby. I slowly drove back to school after purchasing several items for my new office and, after getting out of my car, looked out at the expansive lawn and huge sycamore trees, admiring Baxter’s serene setting. The walkway to the double door entrance was inviting with flowers some of the teachers and I had freshly planted last week. Doing that gardening project together had been a great way to become better acquainted.
What a whirlwind this last month had been getting to this point!
And now school was set to begin tomorrow. I looked forward to the challenge facing me with nervous excitement. Thousands of questions still raced through my mind as I walked toward the entrance. Was I prepared for this job? I had never been a vice principal, so didn’t have much experience preparing me for principalship. I was about to find out in the morning when all 720 students would arrive.
I took a deep breath and as I approached the large glass doors of the lobby I could see several people inside. I recognized Don, Leann, the Assistant Superintendent of Business, Wayne, and Tim. Standing with them were 4 unfamiliar men dressed in suits.
Don greeted me. “Welcome to Robinson, Jane. Your school is contaminated with asbestos and classes can’t begin here tomorrow.”
I stared at him. His serious expression told me he was not kidding. I felt a tightness in my chest. Everyone was staring at me. I took a deep breath to maintain my composure. This was no time for feelings to take over. My head was swimming with questions. Did I hear him correctly? What does this mean? What do we do if we can’t open school tomorrow? How do we notify parents? etc, etc, etc…
What was probably 4 seconds seemed like an eternity. Don put his hand on my shoulder. “Let’s go into your office where we can talk.”
As the nine of us squeezed around my tiny conference table, Don introduced everyone.
“This is Wayne Spencer and Justin Blackman from the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Jared Broadman and Martin Espinosa from Parmen, a local engineering firm. We’ve been walking through the classrooms to see what the situation is and how it can be rectified.”
I was trying to process what this meant. Workers had just finished re-roofing the school. Rusty had alerted me that the force of nailing had caused asbestos particles from the ceilings to filter down into some classrooms. I knew asbestos could be an issue but they had cleaned everything up and I thought the problem had been resolved.
Don continued, “We’ve brought these gentlemen in to look at the ceilings and let us know if the classrooms are safe for students. Apparently they’re not and they need to be fixed, so school can’t begin until the ceilings are repaired.”
I sat quietly and listened as the group discussed what to do with the students and teachers. Don asked if there were empty classrooms at other schools. Could the students arrive at Baxter and then be bused to different schools? Tim listed the various empty classrooms throughout the district, some at elementary schools, some at middle schools and some at the high school. “Yes, that would work,” he said. “We have enough classrooms to house all students and their teachers.”
You have got to be kidding, I thought. My teachers have spent hours preparing for school starting tomorrow, all of their teaching supplies are in their classrooms, and they can’t get into them because of the asbestos. You can’t spread them out all over the city, with no materials and no support. What about the buses, how would they transport our students all over town?
I fought back frustration as I tried to keep calm while expressing these concerns to the group. I felt vulnerable. All these people sitting around the table were experts in their fields with years of experience, and here I was, a brand new principal on the job for less than three weeks. "
About the Author
Jane Blomstrand is a retired educator. She has held many different positions in education including Classroom Teacher, Literacy Specialist, Elementary School Principal and Director of a Teacher Credentialing Program. She currently coaches new administrators. Jane and her husband live in Northern California.