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Your Most Important Job as a Leader

Uncategorized Jul 17, 2019

Author and speaker Jim Rohn told us, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." To be successful in life, to achieve your goals and dreams, it has to be done with other people. I love this quote from John Maxwell, "Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved alone."

This made me realize, I was doing it all wrong as a leader. I knew people were important, but I wasn't spending too much time making sure I had the right people, in the right positions at the right time.  Your most important job as a leader is finding the "gold" in the people you surround yourself with. 

Learn where I went wrong as a principal when I was looking in the wrong places, and at the wrong qualities in people. 

If you want to download the tool I mention in the video that will help you identify the right people to surround yourself, click here


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What Have You Learned the Hard Way?

There's only one thing more painful than learning from an experience, and that is NOT learning from an experience.  

A couple of years ago my family and I were at a friends house for a 4th of July barbecue and someone brought fireworks. The list of goods included bottle rockets, Roman Candles and sparklers (which are more my speed). 

Out of the corner of my eye I happened to notice that the teen was attempting to light a Roman Candle in the street. He was struggling to get the lighter lit and was lighting the candle with the fuse pointing towards him and the crowd. See where this is going?

When the fuse finally lit he held the candle towards the sky, like he saw everyone else, however he had the lit fuse facing towards him. It was like watching a movie as I thought, is that right? I yelled for him to turn it around. At this point others noticed what was going on and yelled as well. He looked at us and dropped his hands, luckily pointing the rocket away now....

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Fund Your Dreams Just Like Ted!

Uncategorized Jun 18, 2019

Ted Duncan, charter school director, has big dreams for Brevard Academy. As the School Director, he wants to not only change the lives of his students, he wants to change the lives of everyone living in Brevard, people and critters included. 

James Allen said, “Until thought is linked to purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment.” 

During a thinking partner call last year, Ted happened to share his dream with me. I said, “You know I’ve helped schools win millions of dollars in grants. Right? If you are open to the consideration, I’d love to make your school dreams come true.” We then scheduled a meeting at Brevard that included Ted; Brevard Board Chair, Mark Campanini; and me. We talked about how grant writing assistance could help them achieve the mission of the school and reach for some of those dreams. I asked for a list of all the ways that Brevard could use grant funding assistance, and if you're a school...

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Fund Your Dreams Through Grant Writing

Uncategorized Jun 11, 2019


Schools need money. That's a fact that we are all too familiar with. I’ve only talked to one school leader who complained about having too much money to spend before the year was over. The rest of the school leaders start sentences with, “If we had money, I would….” Then they describe in great detail what they wish they could do to transform their school, their students lives, and their community. Now is your chance!

Join me on Wednesday, July 17th, at 4:30pm for a FREE

   grant writing webinar to fund your school dreams.

 Register HERE.

I've helped schools win over $3 million dollars in grant awards. You could be next. 

If you haven’t ever written a grant before, you might be thinking, “I’m no writer. I can’t do this.” Or you’re thinking, “We’re all so busy that even if we were awarded the grant, the reporting would kill us.” What if you’re wrong. What if grant writing...

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Eight Common Financial Pitfalls of First Year Charter Schools

Uncategorized Jun 04, 2019

In North Carolina, out of the 46 schools that opened for operation, but then closed, 35 (or 80%) of those schools closed due to financial reasons. I guarantee that all of these schools had a written budget and knew they were responsible for the fiscal oversight. The perceived cause of these financial issues might have been noted as low enrollment, fiscal noncompliance, or excessive debt. In reality, the root of their problem was poor execution of a written plan. Cash is the oxygen to any successful business, and charter schools are a business. If the organization does not adjust spending in a timely manner, the school will run out of oxygen and eventually suffocate.

If you are not preparing on the front end, you will be repairing on the back end. - John Maxwell

This charter school finances tip sheet was researched and written in collaboration with charter school financial service provider Acadia NorthStar and the team at Leaders Building Leaders. Acadia NorthStar has operated for...

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Five Strategies for Charter School Financial Success

Budgets are plans that help you to prioritize where your money should be spent. By building a budget, it minimizes frivolous spending and creates a uniformed plan that everyone should follow. Public charter schools receive millions of dollars annually in public taxpayer money. Since we know that the number one cause of charter school closings is based on fiscal mismanagement, I want to share with you five strategies for fiscal success in charter schools.  What I learned from Jon Schwartz’s Charter Growth Fund, was instrumental in helping me meet my goals. We utilized Jon’s strategies to turn around the fiscal standing of two public charter schools. One school had over $500,000 in previous year’s debt. We used these strategies to not only pay off all debt, by carry a $100,000 surplus.

 Tip #1: Start budgeting in the First Quarter, Not the Last: If you’re reading this in the Spring, that’s ok; just begin planning differently moving forward. Once...

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Five Characteristics of Effective Charter Schools

My journey into public charter schools, and learning about the characteristics of effective schools, began in 2008 when I was an Exceptional Children’s teacher. I later became the director of a rural charter middle school in Brunswick County at Charter Day School. It was during this time that my “leadership lid” was lifted as I spent time in five high performing K-8 public charter schools in North Carolina during my dissertation study, The Characteristics of Effective K-8 Charter Schools in North Carolina. The leaders and community stakeholders from the schools that I served as a Principal, have helped shape my understanding of what makes an effective school.  According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, this week is National School Choice Week. As we celebrate National School Choice Week, let’s also discuss five characteristics of effective charter schools.

Research and Strategy Application

The five...

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Leading a Team to Success

Leading a team is by far the most important skill a leader needs to master if they desire to be more successful. Over the past 24 years, I have participated in an annual Thanksgiving tradition, a two-hand touch football game called the Turkey Bowl. Over this almost quarter of a century, I have learned seven key leadership lessons about building a team, leading a team, and navigating through challenges. Here are my takeaways:

1. Draft Talent and Get Out of Their Way: As a leader, you will only be as successful as the collective skills and talents of the people you surround yourself with. There is no sense in recruiting and hiring talented people if you are going to micromanage them out of their gift zones and passion. Your main job is to build their capacity, place them into positions of success, and remove any barriers. If you are not finding the talent you need to achieve the organization’s goals, you need to take a look in the mirror.

There are only two ways to...

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5 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections

On a walk last summer, I crossed a bridge built over a slow-moving creek and spied a snake slipping through the water. As a mother of three boys, I instinctively wanted to point it out to them and start guessing what kind of snake it was. Alas, my teenage boys were at work or gymnastics practice. They were missing out on my moment with the snake, and I wanted to share this sighting. Just up the path, I saw a dad with two toddler sons coming my way. I was thrilled to have someone to share this moment with.

When the dad was within earshot, I said, “Your boys might like to see the snake in the water back there.” The man looked right past me and kept walking. I carried on toward my house, not bothering to repeat myself. However, in just a few steps, I heard the dad say, “Hey boys! There’s that snake the nice lady told us about.” The boys squealed, and I smiled, knowing that I’d opened up their world just a little bit that day.


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What Would You Do if you Had an Extra $100,000 in Your Budget?

I want to tell a story that illustrates a problem that hinders many school leaders. Recently, I was coaching a principal, and he was sharing the difficulty he was having finding effective teachers to help turnaround the urban school he led. This school was a magnet, restart model district school that had a great vision, but he struggled to recruit and employ effective teachers. He also noted that he was also struggling with balancing his time so that he could support and coach his current staff, many of whom are within their first three years in the profession. Despite additional county resources and strategic partnerships awarded to his school, he noted how tight the budget was and expressed concern about having very little wiggle room. I asked him, “Well, what would you do if you had a $100,000 to work with?”

He paused to think for 30 seconds and said, “I would definitely hire some teachers to focus on interventions.”

I replied, “I want to make sure I...

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