As a reminder, my school has been designated a turnaround school and is undergoing the Expanding Great Options process. That has meant some major changes around the school, including a new principal, new leadership, and about 50% new teaching staff. It has meant meetings and more meetings. And it has meant a lot of trying out new ideas and building systems from the ground up. Which causes twelve- and fourteen-hour days!
On the brighter side, being a turnaround means some positive changes too.
Our new principal is an inspiring leader. He moved from Cleveland to Baltimore this summer, having been a principal there. His goal, and ours, is to do what it takes to make our school one of the Top 500 in the nation. This will not happen in just one year, but it is where we are trying to go.
The faculty has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, though this has been on the wane since the early days of August (as is true any school year). Though I pointed out the long days as a drawback, at least I know when I leave after 7:00pm many days, others are staying crazily late too. This comes out of a dedication to our work and our students. Related to this point also, there seems to be more school spirit than before, both among students and teachers.
This year, we have done some things never done before in my tenure at my school. For example, full-school assemblies. Never once happened in my five years prior; has already occurred several times this year. We had a homecoming dance, which was also new. Back in September, we hosted a fantastic community fair together with our annual Back-to-School night, where parents, students, families, teachers, and many members of our local community got together to celebrate our partnership in educating our kids.
Being a turnaround with new leadership has also meant the chance for teachers to step into roles that go beyond their own classrooms and work for the good of the school. While this extra responsibility can lead to burnout from overwork, it can also lead to greater involvement and investment in the school, and the ability to make changes with effects you can see. So although some of the excitement has lessened since August, I hope that our enthusiasm, dedication, and extra-involvement help carry us through the school year to an improved school and a better education for our students.