The Summer Principal

HMS Teachers cheering the students as they leave for summer vacation.

Walking through my local grocery store yesterday, I  ran into two of my students’ parents, which in the town I work in, is generally a very pleasant experience.  Both parents kindly asked if I was enjoying my summer vacation and without appearing defensive, I explained that I still work in the summer months, but that it is truly a more relaxing work experience. Questions inevitably ensue regarding what work actually transpires for an administrator during the summer. Here are some thoughts in no particular priority:

Facility Issues: After students leave for the summer, each school building must get back in shape. Truth be told, with hundreds of children and adults moving through the building for 180 days, we never really catch up until July and August. So, there’s a fair amount of careful cleaning and painting going on right now. In addition:

  • For years I have been pushing to increase the size of our nurse’s office, so this summer, we will blast out a wall which leads to a small room and a bathroom. The space will finally reach state regulations.
  • Our multi-purpose room will receive a new floor. Of course, this  displaces the summer recreation program, but they have been quite flexible.
  • I am pleased to state that we have a generous donor that is willing to contribute a sizable amount to help reconstruct our playground, now over 20 years old. Our resurrected Playground Committee is meeting regularly.

Hiring: We try very hard to hire before the school year ends but sometimes that is just not possible. We are interviewing this month for  a part-time reading teacher and a new custodian. Both positions require a full contingent of colleagues collaborating on finding the best.

Summer Curriculum and Planning: Teachers are often in the building during the summer months doing work which is supported by the budget to a certain extent. We are focusing on topics as diverse as analyzing data, designing math and science centers, planning assemblies around our “3 B’s”: (be safe, be respectful, and be responsible), reading comprehension, our district math committee, and spelling. Next week I am working with a team of teachers to talk Professional Learning Communities and how we can modify our schedule to provide more time for teacher collaboration and targeted instruction.

Vision: I have an obligation to read and think in order to plan goals and develop vision for the following year. Next week I am attending the Apple Summer Institute for Principals in Boston (I hope to blog from the event) and I’ve been reading titles from Doug Reeves, Leading Change in Your School, Fisher and Frey’s Enhancing RTI, as well as mainstream books Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (the story of Lincoln and his contemporary adversaries), and True Compass, the autobiography by Ted Kennedy.

Logistics: Then there’s reviewing handbooks, writing letters to staff and families, finalizing schedules, planning the first staff meeting…so much.

My Superintendent Steve Chamberlin cleverly states that June is Friday night, July is  Saturday, and August is Sunday when one looks at summer from a school perspective. Right now it’s about Noon on Saturday. Still plenty of the weekend left.

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