As part of National Principals Month, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association and Elementary School Principals, we are profiling some of the best and brightest principals in our schools.
What originally drew you to work in education?
As cliché as it may sound, I was looking for a profession that would allow me the opportunity to make a real difference in the world. Serving as principal of New Tech Odessa, I am afforded the opportunity to do so on a daily basis.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a principal?
One of our biggest goals at New Tech Odessa (NTO) is to build the leadership capacity in all learners and facilitators. Therefore, creating the structure, time, and space to do so must be an intentional endeavor. Another challenge that I face, is communicating the importance of developing and maintaining a strong work ethic in all that we do at NTO, whether it is from a learner’s perspective or adult perspective – we are striving to set the gold standard at NTO.
What are the keys to meeting the needs of diverse learners?
I would say that there are a number of keys to meeting the needs of diverse learners. First, I believe that the starting point for meeting the needs of any learner is to establish a positive, productive, and affirming relationship with that learner. In addition to developing a loving and caring relationship with our learners, our facilitators do a great job of diversifying their assignments and projects. For instance, all projects, and ultimately the end products, are based on a rubric. Therefore, our learners know up front what is expected of them, in terms of the work, yet the end result may vary from learner to learner. Hence, one group’s final product may be a video, whereas another group’s product may be a skit, rap, or song. Thus, the strengths and talents of all of our learners surface.
How has the New Tech Network helped your students?
The great thing about being part of a network, is being part of a network. Considering that New Tech Odessa is one of a hundred plus other New Tech high schools and middle schools, means that best practices and working frameworks have been established that help create an educational environment that is positive and healthy for all learners. In one case in particular, last year Manor New Tech supported New Tech Odessa by creating a student-led video, encouraging our learners to hang in there when things get tough. In addition, the New Tech Network educational design of teaching that engages, technology that enables, and an educational experience that empowers, has transformed our kids from being passive learners to active participants in the creation of their own learning.
What is your favorite part of being a principal?
I would have to say that my favorite part of being a principal is the endless possibilities that exist among the learners and facilitators at NTO. We strive to reach new heights on a daily basis. In addition, I thoroughly enjoy the day-to-day conversations that I get to have with every learner. Serving as principal of NTO is truly an honor and privilege.
To see our profile of Roslyn Valentine, an Technical Assistance Coach at EDWorks, click here. Also, check back this Wednesday for our final National Principals Month profile.
Jesse Moyer is the Director of State Advocacy and Research with KnowledgeWorks. He is a believer in public education working and passionate about family, sports and fishing.