Bare Walls

As I grabbed the paintings and photos off the walls of my office at Hedges School, my mind was flooded with the incredible memories from the last nine years.

When you make the decision and commitment to become an educator, you make a way of life choice…it takes your heart and fills your mind with thoughts of continuous improvement.

*How can I make that lesson better?
*Did my students understand the success criteria?
*Do the parents of my students feel connected to my classroom or school?
*How can our team support all of our students in making greater academic gains?

It has been an honor to work with a team of educators who believe in and feel this congruent commitment! Kalispell’s School District #5 has provided me with an extended family who consistently supported me and authentically believed in me before I believe in myself. Throughout the last nine years, I have been provided with the skills, guidance, and the foundation to lead and inspire others to have the ultimate grit to ensure a positive impact for students to strive for academic, behavioral, and social success!

As I close the doors of Hedges School, I pause, take a deep breath, and feel extreme gratitude. Thank you to:
*Casey Bertram for taking a chance on me and mentoring my growth as an educational leader.
*Dan Zorn and Darlene Schottle for nurturing my growth as a leader and seeing my potential beyond the classroom.
*Merisa Murray for believing in and hiring me for my first administrator position as your Assistant Principal. Edgerton School welcomed me with open arms and overwhelmingly supporting my growth!
*Glenda Armstrong, Bill Sullivan, Jen Stein, and Rick Anfenson for your unconditional support, teamwork, and friendship.
*Mark Flatau and Andrea Johnson for your continued guidance through the ups and downs of leading an elementary school.
*Each member of my Hedges Team and Community for providing me with the opportunities to be a classroom teacher, a parent, and your principal. I smile and celebrate our laughs, disagreements, challenges, and successes! My life has been forever changed for the better because of each of you.

Ultimately, thank you to my family. I am grateful for your unconditional love and patience during the long days and filled weekends. You positively joined in the fun for so many of our school events. As we leave the Montana Mountains for the Big State of Texas, I am blessed that we can enjoy this journey together.

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Random Thoughts: Common Core Standards…What do I think?

Consistency and explicit expectations provide students a clear path to meet and exceed educational standards.

My teaching career has been an exciting journey as I have had the opportunity to lead as an educator in three different states and five different grade levels.  Needless to say, when I learned about the implementation of the Common Core Standards, I was grateful for the consistency and clarity. Although it has taken a little time to thoroughly unwrap each standard and align our own teaching tools and curriculum to guide students on their journey toward mastery, there is a collective understanding among educators, students, and parents about what students need to know and be able to do. When considering ELA Reading Standards,

Hollenbeck & Saternus (2013) suggest the standards outline a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.  “Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature” (p. 558).

As I was revising my Chapter One this weekend, I found the video below.  It provides a simple explanation of the why behind our Common Core Standards.

Three-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core State Standards from CGCS Video Maker on Vimeo.

Every person wh…

Every person who enters the field of education has both the opportunity and the obligation to be a leader. #SVAMP

This quote is from page 1 in Marzano and Dufour’s 2011 book Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement. Reflecting on this fantastic book and the quote, I am grateful for the administrators who provided me with the opportunity to grow and lead beyond my classroom.  As a new administrator, it is empowering to open those same doors for others.  This year I have been inspired by so many teachers who have taken on the challenge of leading their colleagues.

This year, our staff has been working through changes with our school wide behavior system and the majority of the change has been led by the teachers. True teamwork feels good and is great for our students! Here is the link to the prezi created by our Montana Behavior Initiative Team (MBI): Hedges Collaborative Behavior System. This team has led our staff with a positive student focus!


Approaching A New Adventure… #SAVMP

Teachers arrive back to school tomorrow and our students will join us for a new school year on Wednesday. I love the beginning of a new year…everyone is excited!  My own children have their new school supplies separated, organized, and ready to be placed in their recently washed backpacks. They are eagerly awaiting for Wednesday!


As I enter my first year as principal, I reflect on the unforeseen changes that have occurred over the last two weeks. Our elementary schools have been overcrowded for the last few years; and the best way to provide space at this time was to add eight new classrooms (four at two separate schools).  Although the schools look beautiful and are ready for new students,  we had no idea that the additions would not provide enough space.

The administration team brainstormed many possible scenarios and the best situation for our students was to add a classroom at our school. However, our classrooms are also full… we had to get creative. Teachers, tutors, and Mental Health support staff had to move or share rooms.  We had to quickly post a new teaching position and hire a new teacher who would be ready for students in less than five days.

As I reflect on the last four days, I am truly grateful for my new team! They have been flexible, understanding, and supportive. Change is never easy, but this team consistently focuses on doing what is best for our students and they have rolled with it all! Thank you to the entire staff at Hedges Elementary!