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Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson: The Analytical Leader

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson: The Analytical Leader

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson

The Analytical Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson began her career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities. By working with the same students year after year, she began to see teaching as a relationship: “You’ll never be able to get through to anyone if you don’t have that [first].” Her leadership style follows the same vein. 

This is the ninth spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter.

After 17 years in education, the best advice that Tamara Jones-Jackson can give comes easily to her: “Teach to touch their hearts, and they’ll give you their minds.” Being on the receiving end of this approach to teaching may have been what attracted her to the profession in the first place. 

Principal Jones-Jackson once had a one-track mind for business when she was a student; it was her major in college until one of her professors inspired her to go into education. Before she was an administrator, Tamara spent 10 years in the classroom as a special education teacher, building relationships with students year after year.

She continues to apply this experience to her role as a principal by supporting students. “One of my administrators always used to say that I’d make a wonderful principal,” Jones-Jackson recalls. “I told her that I enjoyed working with students as a teacher, or even with the families as a counselor, but I’m not sure I’d ever want to be an administrator.”

“Now I think I have the best of both worlds. As a principal, you’re managing the business aspect of the school, and you’re still connected with the children.”

Now entering her second year as the head of Ralph J. Bunche Elementary School, Principal Jones-Jackson most enjoys the ability to help in every aspect of a school setting: “When you are a teacher you’re confined to a particular area. But as an administrator you can participate in the world outside of the school as well as the world within.”

High Risk, Guaranteed Reward

The 2019-2020 school year will be Tamara’s eighth year in administration, and her second year at Ralph J. Bunche. Over the years, Principal Jones-Jackson has made a name for herself by working with schools that have been named a priority risk. At her last school in Taylor, MI, she was given 4 years to raise test scores and take the school off of that list. She was able to do it in two.

Principal Jones-Jackson’s entire career in education has been spent with at-risk students: first in special education supporting students with learning disabilities, and now at Ralph J. Bunche serving a 100% at-risk population. All students receive free and reduced lunch, and many are bussed in from inner-city Detroit.

“My leadership style is to build teacher capacity for a quick turnaround, and make sure the students are getting what they need.”

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson, Ralph J. Bunche Elementary

Bunche Elementary is comprised of pre-K through 3rd grade students, with plans to serve 4th graders in the near future. While the issue of classroom space remains a barrier, Principal Jones-Jackson pours attention and resources into the area where they’ll have the most impact: “Right now, my focus is on building teacher capacity within the school so that the teachers will have the skillset and the encouragement they need to support our children.”

 “In 3 short months, Principal Jones-Jackson has created a functioning PTO where we never had one before. She has allowed teachers to take leadership roles for the betterment of the school, changed procedures to make things run smoother, and provided guidance and instruction on how to use our data more effectively so that we can better serve our students.” 

 

— Sandra Fuoco, teacher at Ralph J. Bunche Elementary

The Right Resources, The Right Timing

By supporting teachers with the right resources at the right time, Principal Jackson-Jones hopes to improve test scores and other factors that drive decision-making at the district level. She is most proud of the fact that school employees work together as a team: “It typically takes 2-5 years to create that sort of culture, but we’ve been able to bridge the gaps between staff, to where they’re actually working together to do Common prep time—they’re working as a team and not in silos.”

 “What astonishes me the most [about Principal Jones-Jackson] is how she always gets things done! In a struggling district without extra income, we now have a communication system in the building, ceiling tiles and bleachers are fixed (which haven’t been in years), and teachers are getting much needed resources. AND she does this all with a smile and positive attitude.  In my 2 decades of teaching, she is truly the most inspirational, motivational, and believable leader I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

 

— Sandra Fuoco, teacher at Ralph J. Bunche Elementary

Principal Jones-Jackson acknowledges the draw to constant technology, as well as the threat it poses. “It seems like babies are coming out with cell phones in their hands. It’s just the new way.” She recalls a recent article she read about how some schools are trying to deactivate their kids from the constant technological access. We recently read a similar article, in which schools were using low-tech technology to do so. In these situations, she adds, some students are even having technology withdrawals.

But despite the risks of bringing technology into the classroom, there are rewards. Principal Jones-Jackson admits that she finds herself being drawn to technology for the ability to “just be able to go and pick something up to read a news article without having to go to the library and read about it.” To Principal Jackson, it seems that technology is inseparable to the future in education. “Technology is everything. And I don’t see us moving forward without it in any capacity—whether that’s personal or professional.”

Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end.
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development.

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson: The Analytical Leader

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson began her career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities. By working with the same students year after year, she began to see teaching...

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez: The Collaborative Leader

Former Principal & Superintendent Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez has had a lengthy career of advocating for teachers and using technology to enhance education.

10 Summer Reading Recommendations for Educators

Team members from Kiddom share the books that caught their eye this summer. These reading recommendations will satisfy every educator’s busy and curious mind.

Principal Corey Crochet: The Lifelong Learner

Principal Corey Crochet’s passion for learning has followed him from school yards to construction sites and back again. Read about what keeps him motivated.

Principal Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

In the sixth of our Star School Leader Spotlights, Principal Carol Leveillee shares her tips for supporting collaboration and skill development.

More From the Star School Leader Series

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson: The Analytical Leader

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson began her career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities. By working with the same students year after year, she began to see teaching as a relationship: "You'll never be able to get through to anyone if you don't have that...

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez: The Collaborative Leader

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez: The Collaborative Leader

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez

The Collaborative Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Now the executive director of CUE.org, former Principal (& Superintendent) Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez has dedicated her career to advocating for students, empowering teachers, and using technology to break barriers and enhance education. This is the eighth spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter, or check out our School Leadership page, which we will update with each new spotlight.

When asked about what inspired her career in education, Principal Pamela Gildersleeve-Hernandez cites a meme: “If you go back and look at what games you were playing when you were 6-10 years old, that’s your true calling as an adult.”

In retrospect, there was no doubt that Principal Pam would be an educator some day. She recalls having a chalkboard and benches in her garage, and inviting all of the neighbors’ kids to come to school. “God bless the kids in the neighborhood for indulging a Type-A, oldest-sibling personality and playing school with me,” she jokes.

Still, teaching was not on Principal Pam’s agenda until years later. “I had no intention of going into education as a student. I watched often how disrespectful kids were to the teachers, and how tired they were.”

She had her sights on foreign service, and even began to pursue a master’s degree in international public administration. While she completed her own schooling, Principal Pam taught swimming lessons on the side.

One of her teachers observed her swimming class and pulled her aside to say that she would make a great teacher. “I said, ‘Mrs. Nulty, with all due respect––there’s no way in hell I’d ever become a teacher.”

But the garage classroom never forgets. After leaving her master’s program, she began substitute teaching for income. That’s what her true calling finally clicked: “I remember thinking, holy smokes, you can get paid to do this?”

“What I really love most about my position is that I have the authority to help set the direction and empower everybody within the organization. I get to be the ‘Yes!’ person.”

Principal Pamela Gildersleeve-Hernandez, San Antonio Union School District

From Classroom Garage to Front Office

Mrs. Hernandez taught for 17 years before transitioning into the role of principal. Up until then, it seemed that with every passing year, it was less likely that she’d ever leave the classroom. “My passion is with kids, so it was a hard leap to take,” she says. One could not prepare for how hard that leap would be.

Ultimately, Principal Pam was wrenched away from the classroom by tragedy. Gang violence was very prevalent in her community: “My last year in the classroom, we had the highest per capita murder rate in the country.”

That year, one of her students was killed.

“It had such an emotional impact on me that summer,” Principal Hernandez recalls. “I realized I didn’t have it in me to lose another student. But I do have it in me to support teachers that may be in a similar situation.”

Aside from being her inspiration for administrative work, supporting teachers has played a huge role in Principal Pam’s career. During her first year as an assistant principal, she may as well have earned this spotlight. “I had some quick wins, so I ended up getting a lot of attention right out of the door.”

After examining contracts at her school, (Asst.) Principal Pam advocated for teachers and better working conditions. Less than a month into the school  year, the assistant superintendent paid her a visit. When he asked how she was doing, she replied frankly: “This may have been a mistake.”

It didn’t take long as an administrator for Pam to realize that working with kids is what “feeds her soul.”

She credits the superintendent’s advice for maintaining the rest of her career in school leadership. He told her to block two hours a week in her calendar, and connect with a teacher whose classroom she could teach. “That’s what kept me on the administrative side of the house, and in education.”

Serving a small school district allowed Principal Hernandez to wear many hats, and keep one foot in the classroom. Adjacent to her office is a door that leads directly to the playground. Throughout her time as a principal (and later, superintendent), Principal Pam continuously made time for direct interaction with students. In fact, the 2019-2020 school year will be the first time in 26 years that she hasn’t taught! 

“If I’m struggling with a decision, or if something doesn’t feel right, I get to walk out on the playground and hang out with the kids. Then I know exactly who I’m making the decision for, at any time. No doubt whatsoever. And that is by far the best part of my job.”

Principal Pamela Gildersleeve-Hernandez, San Antonio USD

 

Setting the Tone for a Campus Community

The impact on the school’s community is at the forefront of every decision Principal Hernandez makes, whether it’s combining classes or rearranging the staff lounge. While telling us about her time as principal, she beams brightest when praising her team of teachers, office administrators, guidance counselors, and custodial staff. “Everybody has each other’s back all of the time. Nobody hesitates—we’re a team. And when we take care of each other, it’s good for the kids.”

“Despite the challenges of working in a small district, and wearing many hats, Mrs. Hernandez continues to grow as a learner, as well as a leader. She attends as many conferences as possible with us, and makes every effort to provide team-building opportunities.”

Diane Stensrud, teacher at San Antonio USD

Making sure that teachers enjoy their jobs produces a huge impact on the students. Teachers have piloted dynamic initiatives to foster a stronger reading culture at the school, using Bitmojis to show themselves immersed in books. “When my team brings me these ideas, it just puts me in a really nice place. I get to say, ‘yes, that’s it!’”

 

Accelerating Learning with Technology

At San Antonio Union School District, technology is used to accelerate learning and show students their own impact on the larger world. With the Future Ready initiative, students learn about workforce opportunities that feed their interests and benefit their local community. “We connected with a NASA astronaut on Twitter, and he ended up being part of our summer STEM program — how cool is that?!”

One last time, Principal Pam invites her neighbors to take a seat in her classroom garage — although by now, she has upgraded to a podium. When asked for advice to give other school leaders trying to give technology a resonant role in their community, she offers one word, “Perseverance.” 

In addition to a lack of funding and late adopters, educators who advocate for technology are also fighting against public perception: it can’t be a good thing that we are so connected to devices all the time. Can it?

Principal Hernandez recommends listening to people’s concerns, and bringing information and experience to annul them. “We need to look at it more closely, and rely on partnerships with people — even those that may be pushing back on something that we want to move forward quickly.” 

When embarking on a new technology initiative, the first step is to align on the vision, the purpose, and the goal you wish to achieve. Technology can make processes more efficient, but only when they are appropriately matched to a need. Ultimately, success comes from communication: to parents, teachers, pilots, and leaders. “It’s really important that every voice is heard,” Principal Hernandez says.

“Mrs. Hernandez continually seeks to better herself by reading, attending conferences, and taking classes—both to remain current, and to push the boundaries of education. She is an inspiration to me!”

Diane Stensrud, teacher at San Antonio USD

Using technology to enhance education has been a lifelong passion for Principal Pam—so much so that it has inspired her to take the next step in her career. In March 2019, Mrs. Gildersleeve-Hernandez was named the Executive Director of CUE (formerly Computer-Using Educators, founded in 1978). Check out her blog here, and tweet her a congratulations using the handle @pgilders!

Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end.
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development.

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Merging data with qualitative instincts should be the standard in education—not a privilege. A visit to Greenville, SC gave us a glimpse into that future.

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Some teachers may be waving a white flag in October, while others decorate it with Sharpie! Find out which one you’ll be with this back to school quiz.

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our CAO. We were so inspired, we had to share!

Rock the Bells: Personalize Learning with Playlists

A back-to-school story about the importance of embracing bells & whistles like personalized learning to keep students engaged — and how playlists can help.

Teaching Greatest Hits: Meet the Winners!

Following Teacher Appreciation Week in 2019, the Kiddom team is proud to honor FIVE spectacular teachers with personalized awards in instruction.

More From the Star School Leader Series

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson: The Analytical Leader

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson began her career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities. By working with the same students year after year, she began to see teaching as a relationship: "You'll never be able to get through to anyone if you don't have that...

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Ahhh, nothing compares to the sounds of September. Sneakers skid and squeak across tile floors. Students quote their favorite songs or movies from the past 3 (or 12) months. Summer’s great and all, but after a certain point—the stark contrast between warm weather and a cold, empty classroom can feel isolating.

It’s about time to fill up those seats! Are you ready for the bell to ring? Find out with this 3-question quiz.

powered by Typeform

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Merging data with qualitative instincts should be the standard in education—not a privilege. A visit to Greenville, SC gave us a glimpse into that future.

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Some teachers may be waving a white flag in October, while others decorate it with Sharpie! Find out which one you’ll be with this back to school quiz.

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our CAO. We were so inspired, we had to share!

Rock the Bells: Personalize Learning with Playlists

A back-to-school story about the importance of embracing bells & whistles like personalized learning to keep students engaged — and how playlists can help.

Teaching Greatest Hits: Meet the Winners!

Following Teacher Appreciation Week in 2019, the Kiddom team is proud to honor FIVE spectacular teachers with personalized awards in instruction.

10 Summer Reading Recommendations for Educators

10 Summer Reading Recommendations for Educators

With school back in session, it’s more important than ever for educators to carve out some time to themselves. What better way to broaden your horizons and find inner calm than by cracking open a book! The Kiddom team is delighted to share the reads that caught their attention this summer. With topics ranging from neuroscience to sociology to octopuses, this syllabus of summer reading recommendations can sustain your curious mind in between meetings and lessons. Enjoy, and let us know what you’ve been reading – on social, or in the comments below!

For the Science Teacher

Kym Hawkins

Kym Hawkins

Content Marketing Manager, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #1:

I’m reading The Soul of an Octopus. After watching a lot of The Blue Planet on Netflix this past month, I was pretty mesmerized by these creatures. They are so much smarter than we give them credit for… and they are helping us understand animal consciousness at an entirely new level.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

Ti-Fen Pan

Ti-Fen Pan

Software Engineer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #2:

This summer I read The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. It is an interesting book to see how the mind can control behaviors practically.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

For the Social Studies Teacher

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #3:

I am reading The Pragmatist: Bill de Blasio’s Quest to Save the Soul of New York. It’s mostly about the history of NYC mayors and posits the question, “Does NYC have a soul?”

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

Rik Walters

Rik Walters

Head of Marketing, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #4:

My mother lost her parents in the Holocaust, so I was compelled to read the incredible story of Lale Sokolov, who was interned at Auschwitz for two and a half years. Almost immediately he is put to work as a tattooist, tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Risking his own life, he uses his position to feed fellow prisoners, help others escape death, and he even finds love. I couldn’t put this book down.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

Nicole Plante

Nicole Plante

Associate Product Designer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #5:

This summer I read a book about three of the 276 young women abducted from their school dorms by the militant Boko Haram group in Nigeria:  Beneath the Tamarind Tree. It is beautifully written and brings the reader there with Ms. Sesay.  An important book that touches on empathy, global issues for equality and human rights, current events, the terror one can inflict on humanity and the horror of being forgotten.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

 

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #6:

I’m currently reading Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration. I like that it provides an in-depth look at each step of a prosecution by diving deep into a case study of two individuals. I also like how it provides an extension into understanding our criminal justice system while I wait for the Serial Podcast to cook up its next season.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

For the English Teacher

Raheel Ahmad

Raheel Ahmad

iOS Engineering Lead, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #7:

Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World delves into the value of deep reading, with a lot of research to back it up. This book was a good reminder in the age of digital devices and bite-size information consumption.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

Summer Reading Recommendation #8:

Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Arundhati Roy is back with fiction, and it has a lot of her linguistic brilliance, but also reflects her fight against jingoism and oppression.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

For Every Educator and School Leader

Nicole Plante

Nicole Plante

Associate Product Designer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #9:

This summer I read School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results. The book raises several important questions for educators: what are the effects of school leadership on student achievement? What specific leadership practices make a real difference in school effectiveness? How can we apply these findings to benefit our learning communities?

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

Vivi Hyacinthe

Vivi Hyacinthe

Marketing Copywriter, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #10:

As the title would suggest, this quick and easy read is a great introduction to gender-neutral pronouns. Written by a genderqueer artist and their best friend, this comic book is an accessible way to introduce gender neutral pronouns to any classroom or workspace. 

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Curriculum is Culture

Responding to a recent shift from curriculum analysis to culture change, author Geoffrey Schmidt argues that the two cannot be separated.

Principal Corey Crochet: The Lifelong Learner

Principal Corey Crochet: The Lifelong Learner

Principal Corey Crochet

Principal Corey Crochet

The Lifelong Learner, Star School Leader Recipient

Principal Corey Crochet’s passion for learning has followed him from school yards to construction sites and back again. This is the seventh spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter, or check out our School Leadership page, which we will update with each new spotlight.

 

 

Great leaders are remembered for how they depart from the norm. But the most effective leaders often have experiences that allow them to blend in with their dependents and peers. Such is the case at Labadieville Middle School in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, where Principal Corey Crochet has presided over the last seven years. 

Built in 1939, Labadieville Middle School is a relic of the Roosevelt administration. But unlike other historical artifacts, the public schools of this nation aren’t always nurtured with the same amount of care. Assumption Parish, where Labadieville is located, is very close to the district line, making it hard to retain students and teachers. “We compete with higher wages and higher salaries all around us,” Principal Crochet says. “My assistant principal and I both started as teachers in 2004, and we were the only two out of a group of nine to return the following year.”

The students affected by this teacher turnover are 48% Black, 48% White, and 4% Hispanic. In state evaluations, Labadieville oscillates between a C and D School Improvement score, which summarizes how well the school is preparing its students for the next level of study. “The vision is to eventually get to a B status and stay there. Last year, we were 8/10ths of a point away from a C (a score of 60).”

“Mr. Crochet’s attitude of removing all obstacles that get in the way of learning is evident across the campus. He tackles problems and is not afraid to go back to the drawing board when something is not working.”

Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

From a certain vantage point, the school’s chances look promising. Labadieville Middle earned a B on the Progress Score during the 2017-2018 school year. Two feeder schools provide a continuous flow of investment from neighboring communities. And many Labadieville students readily demonstrate their preparedness by earning high school credits before they move on. 

But an “overall score” doesn’t tell the full story of what goes on behind Labadieville’s doors. And the same can be said of the school’s sitting principal.

 

The Building Blocks of an Educator

For Corey Crochet, the path toward education took a few detours. In his words, “my attitude in high school was a bit unbecoming of an educator.” He failed the 10th grade as a student, leading to a stint in construction.

But it was there that he discovered his knack for instruction. “My first teaching job was teaching pipefitting to a group of guys that were all older than me, but didn’t have the knowledge of the trade that I did.”

“Mr. Crochet is constantly learning and because of this, he inspires his teachers to do the same …Whether it is working to improve classroom instruction, or creating a culture of learning, Mr. Crochet models his love of learning every day.”

Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

This passion led him back to school, where he is finishing up his Doctor of Education. When Corey finally returned in the classroom as a teacher, it was kismet. He taught social studies at Labadieville for seven years before following the administrative track to his hometown. Inspiringly, he served there as an assistant principal not too far from the school out of which he once flunked. After one year as an AP, Crochet applied for the principal opening at LMS, and began his post in 2012. 

Although most of his years in education have been at the same school, Principal Crochet recognizes that every unique learning community has valuable lessons to impart. During his early years as a principal, Crochet had the opportunity to visit other schools across the nation, including Dr. Steve Perry’s Capital Prep in Hartford, CT and White Pines Middle School in Ely, NV. From these environments, Principal Crochet gained inspiration for how to persistently pursue goals with students. 

“I really enjoy having conversations with students and helping them solve problems that are getting in the way of their learning. Being in a position to help students and teachers makes it a very, very rewarding job.”

— Principal Corey Crochet, Labadieville Middle School

What Principal Crochet most enjoys about being a principal is witnessing a student’s growth during their four years at LMS. His personal motto, emblazoned on the school website is, “Every student. Every day. Whatever it takes.” And that is exactly the approach Corey takes in steering LMS to new heights.

 

 

A Beaming Foundation

In addition to visiting schools in other states, Crochet stays connected with mentors in his own community. Every Wednesday morning, he has coffee with his former principal, who retired while Crochet was in the fourth grade.

 

When progress runs stale at Labadieville, getting perspective from principals who have been there helps Corey stay positive and focused. 

“One thing [my mentor] tells me is that sometimes you have to imagine progress is being made just to keep moving forward.”

— Principal Corey Crochet, Labadieville Middle School

The students, of course, are another source of inspiration for Principal Crochet. “There are a few scenarios where they go above and beyond and do things that really stand out.” One of the proudest moments of his time at Labadieville came last year, during the final game of the Hornets’ football season. The other team had a player with spina bifida, and they put him in to play quarterback. Without prompting, the LMS Hornets surrounded the kid to congratulate him after his play.  

 

When students exhibit their potential in thoughtful ways such as these, it makes being a principal well worth the effort. The teacher who nominated Principal Crochet for this award wrote to us about Corey’s winter hours:

“Mr. Crochet worked very hard to improve the School Improvement Score. He worked through the Christmas holidays, and was at school when it was closed due to extreme cold weather, all to change our students’ enhancement classes and curriculum. While the students did show growth, we missed the score we needed by just a few points. Not to be discouraged, Mr. Crochet congratulated the students and teachers on their efforts, and back to the drawing board he went.”

 

 

Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

The most compelling way for adults to reach students is to demonstrate that they have also been students (and still are). Principal Crochet is a regular presence in the classrooms at his school, as he strives to make LMS more student-centric. “Being in those classrooms is a huge part of knowing what’s going on in your school.” 

While technology facilitates ongoing communication between teachers and school leadership, nothing can compare to real time in the classroom. Principal Crochet believes that ed tech can be assistive, but never a substitute for human interaction. “But it does have its place,” he declares. “When it comes to technology, we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

Through a certain lens, the principal’s task can be daunting. But from the perspective of a student in Corey’s very first class — pipefitting on a construction site — it’s not hard to imagine the talent in front of you thriving in another, unknowable context.

Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end.
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development.

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Merging data with qualitative instincts should be the standard in education—not a privilege. A visit to Greenville, SC gave us a glimpse into that future.

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Some teachers may be waving a white flag in October, while others decorate it with Sharpie! Find out which one you’ll be with this back to school quiz.

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our CAO. We were so inspired, we had to share!

Rock the Bells: Personalize Learning with Playlists

A back-to-school story about the importance of embracing bells & whistles like personalized learning to keep students engaged — and how playlists can help.

Teaching Greatest Hits: Meet the Winners!

Following Teacher Appreciation Week in 2019, the Kiddom team is proud to honor FIVE spectacular teachers with personalized awards in instruction.

More From the Star School Leader Series

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson: The Analytical Leader

Principal Tamara Jones-Jackson began her career as a teacher for students with learning disabilities. By working with the same students year after year, she began to see teaching as a relationship: "You'll never be able to get through to anyone if you don't have that...

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