Fresh From the Field

Educators across the country share some of their most effective innovations.

Principal, May/June 2020. Volume 99, Number 5.


Establish community. “To create a positive mindset around discipline, we started ACEs workshops and restorative practices, including community circles
where [children feel] safe, seen, heard, and valued.”

— JoAnne Duncan, Ellensburg, Washington


Give staff a say. “[Being] involved in decisions [helps]
validate their work and
recognize their contributions, which may be able to
reverse disengagement.”

 — Jeremy Braden,
Ankeny, Iowa
(@bradenstate, @bradenstated)


Lead with empathy. “Leading with empathy is the key to shifting from punitive practices to discipline that changes people (kids) for the better.”

— Bethany Hill, Cabot, Arkansas


Create a culture. “In order to allow innovation to flourish, leaders need to create a school culture that supports it, encourages it, and inspires it to take root.”

— Jessica Gomez, Alice Birney Elementary School, Colton, California (@mrsjessgomez)


Be accountable. “[Create] staff relationship agreements and campuswide instructional expectations that encompass academic and social priorities.”

— Katie Brittain,
Dallas, Texas (@brittainka)


Put culture first. “School culture eats strategy for lunch! Build relationships with students and staff to change and promote school culture.”

— Jon Konen, Great Falls,
Montana (@jonkonen)

North Carolina

Never stop learning. “By taking the time to engage in the learning opportunities available to us, we enable ourselves to innovate new strategies
or techniques.”

— Robert Breyer, Broadway, North Carolina (@rbreyer51)


Lead with positivity. “Leading with a positive lens can not only keep leaders in the profession longer, but [it] can also have a huge impact on teachers, school culture, and even the community.”

— Shanna Spickard, Milan, Michigan (@sspickard)


Build teacher teams. “Teacher-led instructional leadership teams (TILTs) drive school and districtwide change, giving all staff a voice.”

— Christopher Dodge, Orange, Massachusetts (@PrincipalDodge1)


Study the students. “Teachers [should] research the social, behavioral, and academic histories of each child to prepare each lesson not only for equity, but also for empathy.”

— David Leath, Richmond, Virginia (@DrLeath_HCPS)

Take it to the streets. “We [brought] engagement events to parents in the community [by hosting] pop-up
workshops. These initiatives [and] positive school
spirit began to turn the school around.”

— Belinda Rippon, Accomack County, Virginia (@twngls3)


Ensure administrators get classroom time. “A leader’s philosophy on climate, culture, and discipline practices should be explained and modeled.”

— Jerod Phillips, Magnolia, Delaware

New Jersey

Collaborate on a mission. “Through collaboration with students, staff, and parents, [we] teach the value of LEADS (lifelong learners, empowerment, awareness, diversity, and sense of purpose).”

— Louis Caruso, Madison, New Jersey


Try teaching. “Allow teachers [to] observe principals delivering instruction. Principals benefit from the experience and have a better understanding of the expectations.”

— Edward J. Smith, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania (@WVElementary)

Emphasize the mission. “Consider amplifying [the] mission and nonsalary benefits in order to attract (and keep!) the best and the brightest leaders of the next generation.”

— Steven Lin, Richland, Pennsylvania

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