Principal - The Best Job Ever!
Since 2013 I have had an amazing answer to the question people often ask when meeting someone for the first time, “what do you do?” “I am a principal”, was my quick and easy answer! I could confidently state my occupation because everyone knows what a principal does - the principal runs a school. They are in charge of staff and students and responsible for the learning and activities that happen each day. I also loved my answer because as I would share with anyone who asked what I do, my answer would be filled with joy! Being a principal has been - hands down, by far - the best job I have ever had!
Let me explain why.
Bring a principal is so much fun. As a principal, I get to support staff, make decisions (in collaboration with others) for the school, write letters, visit classrooms, coach a team, play in intramural events, watch a musical theatre production, learn and appreciate what our staff and students do such build competitive robots and create a perfect French braids. I often also get to investigate very complex and challenging situations, and I love to meet new students and families - take them on a tour and show off my amazing school. As a principal, every day is unique and exciting!! When you are the principal, you have the so many ways to be with, work with and support people.
I also love being a principal because I know how important the principal job is and I approach this role like nothing is more important. A principal has huge impact on their school and community. A principal can build a positive and healthy school culture, where staff feel empowered to solve challenges and do amazing things for students. A principal can not only impact survey results and test scores, they can change the hearts and minds of parents, students and staff. Of course, some days things don’t go well and many days can be really hard, but a principal should never forget the impact they have with each interaction with a student or parent and every encounter with a colleague. Of course, there are many days where I have reflected on situations that didn’t go so well, and I try to apply this new learning to do better next time. But I always wake up in the morning excited for school, knowing that I can have an amazing opportunity to have a positive impact on the people in my school!
Another term for a principal is the lead-learner, because the teacher in charge of the school, the principal should be always learning - formally and informally throughout each week. I loved the challenge of working with staff to create new approaches to challenges, and designing new learning experiences for students. I loved the challenges of managing a limited budged to meet unlimited needs. And I loved the challenges of finding ways to engage staff to ultimately meet the needs of students. Bring a principal can be extremely rewarding for those seeking to express creativity - to imagine a new reality and put in place the steps to get there. There is nothing that can be more important and more fun that that, in my humble opinion.
Let me add that there are so many aspect of being a principal that can be very stressful, because of the level of responsibility that a must principal bare. The challenge of creating amazing learning environments cannot be understated, and although there are amazing opportunities that await a highly motivated principal, there are also heavy burdens that school leaders carry (even more during a pandemic). I have loved being a principal over the past 8 years, but I also have had many sleepless night that are full of worry - about students and their families, and about staff. I need to recognize that for me in my principal experiences, I have been fortunate to have had amazing colleagues who have helped me navigate the most challenging waters, helping to guide me through the most difficult times. I have been blessed to have fantastic teams of teachers and support staff at my schools, outstanding assistant principals, a number of supervisors who have taught me so much and tremendously supportive families and communities that have been there when I needed them the most. I know not all principals have had these same levels of support, which has such a huge impact on the work of a principal.
I have one week left to call myself a principal, and then I move on to my new role as an Assistant Superintendent (in Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools). I would like to recognize all of the people who have helped me be a successful school leader. I am keenly aware just how lucky I have been over the years to have had such fantastic support. I also hope that my principal colleagues experience the same level of support that I havel and I encourage all of us to wrap our arms around the principals in our lives, because it isn’t an easy role. As I reflect on my work over the past number of years, I can share that being a principal has been my favourite role thus far and I know I am going to miss it tremendously.
by Joseph Dumont, Principal of Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School, formerly Principal of Holy Redeemer and St. Martin's Schools.
Twitter @principaldumont (that is not changing!!!)