Sunday, August 19, 2012

What A Difference One Year Makes

As we are about to welcome back our teachers/staff officially on Monday and welcome back students one week later, I can't help but reflect on how different of a feeling I currently have.  Mid-August of last year, I was about to embark on my first year at the school, as well as my first year in the district.  Clearly, I was excited, but also nervous and anxious about starting with a new staff, determined and focused to provide the leadership for which I was hired.

This time last year, the only school staff I really "knew" (despite a large number of staff coming by during the summer to introduce themselves) was my Principal, who hired me, a Math teacher who I taught with at one time, and the Head Tennis Coach, who I had met through various events.

The only student I knew was the Senior Class President, who introduced herself during the summer.  I could recognize the cheerleaders, since they occasionally practiced in the hallway right outside my office.  That was it.

What a difference one year makes.

Preparing and planning for this school year is quite different, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our school and staff after spending one year together.  Having a professional relationship with my teachers, setting collaborative goals last spring, and simply working side-by-side for one year together will allow more opportunity for growth and improvement this year.  An extremely low turnover rate (we can count our "new" teachers on one hand) provides an even stronger opportunity.  An added bonus is having the same Administrative team (Principal, three AP's) together for consecutive years, a rarity in large high schools.

I laugh when I remember the "teacher notes" I compiled over last summer, as teachers stopped by during the summer to introduce themselves.  The notes read: "(teacher name)-English teacher, nervous about new prep" or "(teacher name), US History, baseball coach, very experienced" [Note: These are simply imaginary examples; they do not actually represent anyone specifically].  Clearly, the first months of last year was simply getting to know our teachers.

What a difference one year makes.

More importantly, this is my second year with the students.  In my opening Academy Meeting last year with teachers, I discussed my anxiety about not lacking a relationship with the students and "coming in blind" (Ashbrook is only the second school in my career). 

The difference was evident this past two weeks, as students have frequently been throughout the school for fall sports practice, Band Camp, Student Ambassadors for Freshman Camp, and routine senior/junior schedule changes.  Being able to converse with our students, not as "the new AP", but rather as someone they know and recognize.

My confidence is extremely high that I will be able to make a difference in leading our teachers, staff, and students.  At the end of last year and during the summer, I frequently shared how excited I was for this school year to begin.  In fact, I can say, without hesitation, this is the most excited I have ever been to start a school year in my career.

This past Friday, I attended our Varsity Football Season Opener.  One of my favorite aspects of high school administration is the athletic program, naturally resulting from my own coaching career (We won 45-42 in an "instant classic", by the way). But, more than that, it's the enjoyment I feel of seeing our student-athletes, students, coaches, and parents come together as a community.  After one year, I am part of that community.

What a difference one year makes.

Related Post: "What is your favorite aspect of the school?"

Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @CSmithGoBlue.


Craig Smith

The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith     and do not represent the school or district in which he works.


  1. I am so looking forward to this year too! So many exciting opportunities and chances to improve on an already great year. Love being on a team with "Agent Smith" :0)