For me, the road to the principalship was an eight year trip. I was an Elementary Assistant Principal for 8 years...5 years in one distict, 3 years in my current district. I refused to "fall between the cracks" in my old district, so I sought out an opportunity closer to home. A fresh start. This would be good for me.
I remember the conversation I had with my last Principal and the Director of Human Resources like it were yesterday:
"You have been an Assistant Principal for five years, why aren't you looking to become a Principal?"
"I began my administrative career under the leadership of an amazing Principal. When he retired, things became disjointed for me (professionally.) Though I have five years experience as an Assistant Principal, I feel as though I could use a few more years under the guidance of a strong Principal who can continue to mold me and truly prepare me for the Principalship. I am willing to wait for the perfect position for me."
I meant that.
Fast forward three years, the perfect position would become available as my Principal would be named to the newest Elementary to be opened the following school year.
My time had come.
It was mine to lose.
There was no one else more perfect for this position.
I had been at my school going on three years and I had learned so much, just as I was promised in my initial interview. I remember preparing for my interview in a similar manner as I studied in undergrad: Professional books scatterred on the floor, highlighters along with my favorite pens in close reach, my laptop and a composition notebook filled with all of my thoughts and things I would want to reveal. For me, I wanted to be the perfect choice NOT because I was already there and it would be a smooth transition, but because I was impressive, knowledgeable and well prepared.
Nothing prepares you for a Principal interview better than experiences and exposure. Up to this point, I had been a teacher for five years, a Specialist for one year and an Assistant Principal for eight years. The one thing that prepared me the most for my interview was the single fact that I had been well mentored by three amazing Principals and that I had also been under the leadership of two not so great leaders (in my opinion.) All I had to do was draw from ALL of those experiences.
The fact of the matter is I was an auto pilot Assistant Principal. I had gotten to a point where I could do my job "in my sleep." What made the last three years different and meaningful for me is the fact that my Principal gave me complete autonomy to implement ideas, spear head initiatives and she included me in on EVERY meeting, conversation, data team...everything. We made an amazing team.
When I got the phone call stating I had been chosen as the new Principal of my school, I felt an array of emotions:
Starting in the middle of a school year, though, would leave me with no time to second guess or bog myself down in the many emotions I am still experiencing. My students need me to be 115% ready to continue the vision set forth at the beginning of the year. My staff needs to continue to feel comfortable so that they could continue to do the amazing things they do to ensure student success. My parents and the community would need to continue to feel comfortable entrusting us with their most prized possessions daily. We would need to remain focused.
Hindsight is 20/20. I wouldn't change a single twist or turn on the road to my Principalship. However, it is now my turn to impact future administrators just as I was impacted. Time to pay it forward...