Louise Jones, my former principal, just announced that she will be leaving her current post as Principal of Hopewell High School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) to accept a Principal position in the Washington, D.C. School District, beginning at the end of the month.
A few months ago, I asked her for permission to blog about how so many aspiring administrators under her supervision were awarded the opportunity to lead, whether in another school, district, or state, resulting from their work at Hopewell. I felt this reflected very positively on her leadership style, allowing those with leadership capabilities the opportunities to thrive within her school, thus making them appealing candidates when their time came. A large number of assistant principals were given opportunities to lead their own schools, as well as dean of students given the opportunity to become assistant principals.
Personally, Dr. Jones provided me with an enormous amount of responsibility and opportunity during my Principal Internship, the final requirement for my School Administration degree from Gardner-Webb University. She allowed me to be a full-fledged member of her administrative team and even worked the master schedule to have me teach half-day, serving as an administrator for the other half. Many principals wouldn't dare entrust an "intern" in this capacity. She has done this for other interns, as well, before staff cuts made this impossible in the master schedule. Her attitude is best described by something she told me earlier this year:
"I feel we give future leaders opportunities that are sometimes not provided in other schools; 99% of the time, they step up and do well."
The experience I received during my internship was implausible, as I remember attending the seminars with other Principal Interns and hearing them complain of the tedious tasks they had been assigned and how they "wished they had more responsibility." My internship, on the other hand, fully involved me in the full day-to-day responsibilities of being a high school administrator. This ultimately prepared me for my next opportunity.
At the end of my internship year, a Dean of Students position became available and I was fortunate enough to be offered the job. Having just completed my internship and receiving my School Administration certification, I didn't expect to become a full-time administrator for years. Yet, Dr. Jones entrusted me a great deal of responsibility in my position in which my duties were no different than that of an Assistant Principal. Once again, she allowed me to build the experience necessary to work towards my own personal goals, which were aligned with the goals and mission of the school.
I am not unique in these leadership opportunities provided by Dr. Jones. A former assistant principal of hers, one of which I have kept in close contact with, is now a principal in South Carolina. He told me, "I would never have been ready for be a principal if Louise hadn't trusted me and pushed me as much as she did." I could list administrator after administrator that credited Louise for doing the same.
Last summer, I was selected as an assistant principal at my current school/district after a rigorous multi-stage interview process. While I absolutely deserved the position and worked extremely hard to be considered and accepted, I owe a lot of my current success to Louise, due to the experience I was able to bring with me. This experience was gained because Louise entrusted me and allowed me to grow professionally while under her leadership.
I believe the timing for her move up to our Nation's capital is ideal for her and know many factors went into her decision. I will miss her, but due to her ongoing evolving of technology use, I know she is only a "tweet" away.
Thank you, Louise, for the leadership opportunities you have provided. I wish you the best in this new opportunity for your own leadership to be recognized.
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The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.