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How To Receive Grants For Your School Even When You Do Not Know How

grant school leadership Dec 19, 2019

Hey School Leaders, 

I know you are swamped with work and holiday planning, but I’ve got an idea I want to share with you today: 

Possibility thinking increases your possibilities, draws opportunities and people to you, and allows you to dream big dreams. 

Possibility thinking is changing the question from Can I? to How Can I?

Some time ago, a charter school was in a challenging financial crunch. During the board meeting, the principal announced that the school needed to find money to invest in a game-changing curriculum and program that would improve their academic programs and really help their teachers save time and energy. 

The principal explained to the board that the teachers were creating most of the lessons and materials and spending lots of time and energy searching for content rather than focusing their time on connecting with students, analyzing data, and mastering their craft.

The budget was too tight to buy ALL of the resources.

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How to Improve Your School for Little to NO Money

leadership Dec 17, 2019

Hey fellow school leaders!

I have a thought I wanted to share.

I believe that your current level of thinking and doing has brought you your current results. 

This is true in ALL aspects of your life. As a middle school director we had strong academic results but a high turnover of our staff based on our unhealthy school culture and micromanaging leadership style. 

Despite having a pretty solid administrative team to lean on and being enrolled in an Education Leadership doctoral program with a dozen other principals and higher education leaders to learn from... 

...the feeling of isolation was overwhelming at times!

Many hours were spent hiding in the office closet with the public school law guide book hoping to find answers!

It wasn't until the opportunity to visit other high performing schools and strategically collaborated with more effective school leaders did the school's results change for the better (healthier culture, trust, teacher empowerment, increased...

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An Educator’s Job Simplified

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2019

As the Spelling Bee Champion for Litchfield Elementary School in 1981, I know the feeling of triumph well. However, my glorious spelling bee win ended at the school level because in order to win at the district, state, and national levels, you actually have to show up, and I didn’t. I meant to. I was all set. Then I talked with first runner up. 

On the day of the district spelling bee, I went to school knowing that after announcements and the Pledge of Allegiance, I’d be called out of class to meet my mom in the office. From there, a school bus would drive us to the district Spelling Bee. My mom drove a perfectly fine yellow station wagon with that 80’s wood siding, but the school wouldn’t let her drive us there. We had to ride the bus. I guess even the school was embarrassed by that wood siding. 

Giving Away My Chance

The first runner up was a stranger to me, but on that morning of the district spelling bee, she came up to me on the playground,...

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Podcasts for Your Travels!

leadership Nov 27, 2019

If you are one of the 55 million people who travel on Thanksgiving Day you may want to take something or someone to listen to pass the time.

Our Principal Office Podcast has over 50 hours of content that has been downloaded over 17,000 times.

I've linked some of our most downloaded below, plus two that will work well for the holidays!!!

Travel safely!

Learn Directly from Henderson Collegiate Executive Director Eric Sanchez

Steps to Effective Teacher Feedback

Setting and Achieving Goals

Have that conversation with the difficult adult in the room!

Connect with Everyone!

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When It Comes to Improving Academics Hope is Not a Strategy

Did you know that 62% of students with disabilities spend 80% of their school day in general education classes (OSEP, 2015)? This doesn’t even take into consideration the at-risk students who didn’t qualify for services. They of course spend 100% of their day in general education.

How about the complete other side of the spectrum; your academically gifted students, or your twice exceptional students. They too are in those same classes.

So, my question for you is: How much professional development, feedback and training during the school year are you providing your general education teachers on how to effectively lead students who are disabled, at-risk and/or academically gifted?

Before you go questioning whether or not you should be leading the school realize that you are not alone here. The first two years I spent as a principal our school was great for 50% of our population, good for 35% and the other 15% we did our best with. Our strategy for the last 15% was more...

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Charter Schools Never Take, They Earn

charter schools Nov 18, 2019

North Carolina’s 196 public charter schools have one thing in common: Parents enroll their child in a charter because they believe it is the best school for their child. Recent statements by charter opponents perpetuate a myth that charter schools “take” funds from school districts. These statements simply have no merit. 

Charter schools make a commitment to their community, building hope. When they keep these commitments by creating safe, engaging school environments, they build trust. 

Despite having some flexibility, public charter schools must follow the same laws as public district schools in these three critical trust-building areas:

1. Serving students with disabilities;

2. Student accountability; and,

3. Health and safety standards. 

Serving Students With Disabilities: Charter schools must serve all students who enroll. Whether this student requires a one-on-one assistant, full-day specialized instruction, or private transportation services,...

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100,000 Public Charter School Students Do Not Walk to School

The majority of charter school opponents have one simple message, “charter schools do not have to provide transportation or feed children.”

However, the truth is this: Charters must meet the same legal requirements as district public schools. 

For any public school, district or charter, there is no provision in public school law that states any entity must provide transportation. Instead, the law states that each district has the “authority to acquire, own, lease and operate buses.” Public charter schools follow NC General Statute 115C-218.40: “The charter school shall develop a transportation plan so that transportation is not a barrier to any student who resides in the local school administrative unit in which the school is located.”

As a result, 98 public charter schools currently provide school bus transportation as an option for their students (NC Office of Charter Schools, 2019), exactly 50% of all operating charter schools.


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It Should Never Feel Lonely at the Top

team building Nov 11, 2019

Recently a school leader said to me, "Tom, it can be lonely at the top." As much as I wanted to affirm his observation, as I had spent hundreds of hours by myself, solving problems thinking the same thing. 

But as his coach and consultant I could NOT affirm this belief.

I said, "Well, I believe, if you are feeling lonely, you are not doing it correctly."

John Maxwell’s Law of Significance states, one is too small of a number to achieve greatness.

When I was a Director of a year-round charter middle school I found myself spending countless hours working in a silo feeling more resentment rather than inspiration or strategic. 

One particular initiative that I recall working completely alone on was when I had a goal to eliminate homogenous class roster grouping from our science and social studies classes. I spent over ten hours over the summer break rearranging 200 student data cards that were laid out across multiple tables. Not the...

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Eight Roles of a Charter School Board Member

board governance Nov 07, 2019

No other singular variable is more important for the health and vitality of a school
then the way it is governed. Every failure of a charter school can be traced back, in some form or fashion, to the board that governs the school. 

Whether the board is comprised of parents, educators, community volunteers, or other individuals, proper delineation of roles is essential.

Board members who do not have a clearly definable role may, on their own, create a personal role that may not fit the best interest of the board.

This confusion over roles can create resentment amongst members; encourage mediocrity, lead to frustration, loss of trust, and poor governance. To help board members focus on long- term planning and resist the tendency to micromanage, charter school boards should develop clear governing roles and responsibilities for all charter school board members and review them annually.

Take 10 minutes to watch the linked video and download a copy of the critical roles that I...

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Winning With People Lesson #10: Offer Your Very Best

winning with people Nov 04, 2019

John Wooden shared, “When the opportunity comes it’s too late to prepare.” Preparation is more than just a discipline. Preparation is an attitude. Preparation will make the difference between winning and losing. Success and failure. Connecting and feeling lost. 

Preparation can happen in many ways. It could be about thinking ahead of a potential problem to making sure your dinner guests do not have any food allergies or special diets. 

Preparation could be practicing your elevator speech to new families, teachers or strategic partners not until you get it right, but until you never get it wrong. 

Preparation could be when you get those five key minutes with your boss to pitch an idea you have all of her potential questions (i.e. budget impact, key resources, first steps) already mapped out in an easy to read one page report. 

 Preparation is all about getting better results. Better results in this order:

  1. Better results for the...
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