FOSTERING A CULTURE OF SUPPORT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Vision, Mission, and Goals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The Professionals
My first administrative job was in a very unique school. With an enrollment of about 2,000 students, the school had a separate ninthgrade campus, drew from the worst socioeconomic area of an urban area, and also housed the performing arts and gifted programs for a district of over 50 schools. Upon my arrival at the school, my primary responsibility was discipline, but I still had a desire to work in classrooms and help teachers improve instruction. Not surprisingly, my exuberant desire to be in the classroom (which did not match the culture of the building) was not universally well received. A few months into my first year, I had a conversation with a very competent veteran teacher, whom I liked very much, regarding some of her instructional practices I had observed earlier in the day. As the conversation began to wane, she shook her head and stated that she believed I would move on to bigger and better opportunities shortly, but she had begun her career at that school and would end it there as well. Then she looked at me and said, “Before you try and make any big changes around here, remember that you may be visiting this building, but we [the teachers] live here.” At first I was taken aback, even angered, by this statement, but the more experiences I gain, the more I understand the paradigm from which that teacher was operating. She had every right to fear change implemented by a single person because change brought on by one person, or solely by administration, is destined for failure. Successful leaders can accomplish sustainable change only by serving those involved, not creating something in spite of them.