The picture above was taken at a recent Terry Fox run and walk activity organized by several schools in the Nelson area. In a friendly competition, schools raised money for cancer research with the understanding that the Principal from the school who raised the most funds would “walk the plank” into the chilly waters of Kootenay Lake. In this picture – the principals of all schools involved earned a tremendous cheer from their students, staff, parents and volunteers as they jumped into the water together – after having done so individually.
I was in the crowd cheering (and feeling a bit guilty that I wasn’t also one of the ones jumping) when I overheard a young lad in conversation with his peer exclaim, “Wow! Now I want to be a Principal too!”
Of course, this got me to thinking. We don’t really celebrate our Principals enough. They are unsung heroes who are pivotal to ensuring that teams are working together on behalf of our learners. Teachers first, Principals strive to ensure exceptional learning environments exist for our children and youth. They provide leadership based on years of experience as instructional experts, and exceptional backgrounds in educational research. They are CEO’s, managing budgets and facilities that are in most cases larger than many small businesses. Principals teach parents, and they offer counsel and advice to parents and teachers who are working together – or who should be working together. Principals motivate, encourage, bring vision to life, and foster a commitment to be the best we can, for the betterment of our future. Most Principals have a teaching responsibility, and feel guilty because they aren’t able to commit fully to that responsibility. They translate and implement District goals. And, Principals deal with endless mounds of paperwork generated by District and Provincial accountability requirements. To top it off, they generate spirit and energy – by having their heads shaved, having things thrown at them, being dumped in tanks of water, getting arrested for charity events – and jumping into cold lakes.
I couldn’t be more proud of our Principals in School District 8. I really believe they epitomize the best of who a Principal should be. Working with this exceptional group of leaders is among the most memorable of my experiences as an educational leader. Not because they willingly jump into a cold lake – but because without exception they rise to the challenges before them. They do this, not because they seek fame and fortune – but because they truly care about the children and youth for whom they are accountable – and for their staffs and the communities within which they work. Our Principals envision a preferred future for our learners, and for our District.
Although it probably isn’t politically appropriate for me to mention the present work action being taken by our teachers – I do have to say something. I need to tell our Principals that they amaze me every day. I see how they are being torn, caught between the phenomenal relationships they have established and the understanding that those relationships have had to change. Every day I see examples – either in person or via an email or telephone message, of how our Principals have continued to walk the high road in an exhausting environment – far more exhausting than normal – in a politically charged battle that is taking place in this province.
So, when I heard that young lad exclaim, “Wow! Now I want to be a Principal too” – I knew I just had to say thank you – to our Principals in School District 8 – and to those who serve in this capacity all over – you are heroes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Many thanks, as well, to Lorri Fehr for taking this awesome picture – and our Principals Carol-Ann Leidloff, Kimberly Jones and Vic Manson who took the plunge!