On Thursday, October 24, the Delaware Association of School Administrators (DASA) announced that Governor Jack Markell and Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn have issued a proclamation that October is Principals Recognition Month. In part, the statement reads, “the month of October has been dedicated to commending the significant contributions all Delaware school principals make to the education of our youth.”
Dr. Sylvia Henderson, DASA President and Director of Student Support for Milford School District, recognized this year’s award winners alongside Governor Markell including National Distinguished Principal (Elementary), Laura Schneider, Showell Elementary School, Indian River School District; Secondary Principal of the Year, Elvina Knight, Caesar Rodney High School, Caesar Rodney School District; and Assistant Secondary Principal of the Year, Clifton Hayes, Delcastle Technical High School, New Castle County Vocational Technical School District.
Milford’s own principals were recognized this month at a meeting among Milford School District officials including Superintendent Phyllis Kohel. “I am extremely proud and confident in saying that our principals are among the most dedicated people I know,” stated Kohel. “They are the CEO’s of their schools balancing budgets and making policies. They have the innate ability to handle the toughest of situations, yet still be able to smile at each student who walks by. They are the friends, counselors, mentors, and leaders of students and teachers. They are knowledgeable, yet eager to learn more. Our principals deserve to be recognized and thanked every day for all that they do.”
More than just a conventional role of managing schools, principals at all levels take on job posts that the public may not see from the outside. “You fill a variety of roles for students which include nurse, counselor, social worker and friend,” commented Susan Donahue, Principal of Mispillion Elementary School. “You also work to support parents in any way you can.”
In addition to salary and benefits from their employer, principals seek out the intangible benefits that they receive on a daily basis as they can affect the lives of many students. “You may never know how you have impacted students and families,” said Ms. Donahue. “Years later you may run into a student and they remember something you said or did that made a difference in their life.”
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a good principal great but Beth Conoway, Principal of Morris Early Childhood, believes that “Love of children and dedication to improvement” is just as important as knowledge of best instructional practices.
The role of principal has many advantages but most principals agree that watching their students grow is one of the best. “The interaction with the children and getting to see them grow academically, socially, and emotionally is my favorite part about being a principal,” stated Ms. Conoway. Ms Donuhe added that her favorite part is “Watching the students grow from year to year and being able to visit classrooms to watch them learn every day.”