AP Impacts Culture and Community

Topics: Assistant Principals

Continually building relationships, assistant principal Mary Kate Diltz focuses on creating a sense of belonging for students, teachers, and families at Madison Avenue Upper Elementary School in Madison, Mississippi. “I want the students to know I am always there for them when they need something,” she says.

Diltz formed a Culture Committee to plan activities such as trivia nights, dinners, and an art project for teachers to get to know each other better outside of school. While reaching out to parents was difficult during the pandemic, the school now invites community members to the building each year to complete science experiments with students.

“Fostering relationships with the faculty, students, parents, and stakeholders creates a positive environment for all to excel in,” she says.

Principal recently asked Diltz about the Culture Committee and other aspects of her leadership. Here’s what she said:

What are the goals you’ve set that drive how you approach the AP role?

Each year, I reflect on what I can do to improve in my role. Two of my goals are celebrating things for both teachers and students and building rapport between teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

How did you get the idea to form a Culture Committee, and what does it accomplish?

I got the idea from a webinar led by [When Kids Lead author] Todd Nesloney. The Culture Committee helped me create a more cohesive, friendly, and supportive staff. Teachers benefit from learning about each other’s interests outside of school, making personal connections, and learning teaching strategies from others. As hard as we try not to, we usually talk about school!

What is the best “leadership moment” you’ve had since becoming an assistant principal?

Creating a science-based community night based on the school year’s theme [is] one of the most fun and exciting things I do each year. It requires lots of planning, instructing teachers and volunteers, and creating instructional materials to make the event exciting.

How do you help teachers set goals for their classrooms and instruction?

Each year, the principal and I sit with teachers and analyze state test data from the year before, working with teachers to look at standards that need to be improved. We create individualized professional development plans for teachers and help them determine what steps will help them meet their goals.

What is the best book you’ve read in the last year?

Teachers These Days by Jody Carrington and Laurie McIntosh. I am leading a book study on it, and the information about the brain and advice on “flipping your lid” has changed the way I approach things.

What is your favorite part of the school day as the school’s AP?

My favorite part is any time I get to interact with the students, especially during our PBIS celebrations. It’s fun to celebrate their success!