Pure Joy

Children want the same thing we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted. – Dr. Seuss

Pure joy is immediately felt when you view the above first day school photos. Twenty-four days ago we opened our doors to begin the 2019-20 school year. The photos shared with me are just a glimpse of the positive energy felt by our campus. Our students and teachers couldn’t wait to get started together! As I continue to reflect and smile while looking at these photos, I am reminded of the daily commitment demonstrated by our Team Elliott.

Our team consistently:

  1. smiles and welcomes our students and families each morning,
  2. plans intentionally engaging lessons,
  3. communicates expectations and success,
  4. provides feedback to ensure our students have clarity about their progress, and
  5. collaborates to know and connect with every child.

I am in awe of the heart and of the effort our team devotes to our students each day. As I walk throughout our school, the pure joy felt on the first day strongly continues. #L2IPA @elliottlearners

Our Elliott Community celebrates and empowers ALL children – who they are and who they will become.

Elliott Excellence

Mission is what you do today. The mission is there to accomplish the vision.

Vision is where the mission takes you. The vision must be consistently good for everyone involved.

Each month I anticipate the release of the consistently inspiring: Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast.  My desire to grow and improve as a leader only increases each time I listen. The powerful words shared by his guest, Horst Schulze, led me to reflect on the mission and vision of @ElliottLearners. After listening to our community and gathering feedback from our team during the 2018-19 school year, our mission has led us to develop the following vision.

Our intentionally collaborative team:
-seeks first to understand,
-partners with families,
-frequently communicates student progress, and
-believes we can lead each student to meet or exceed grade level standards and close achievement gaps in literacy, math, and science.

Our mission:
Our Elliott Community celebrates and empowers ALL children – who they are and who they will become.

We began the 2019-20 school year last week. Below are just a few photos that demonstrate how our vision is good for everyone involved. We have an incredible team and I am grateful for their unwavering commitment to our students and to bringing our vision to life each day!

Found…

Team Elliott Student Leaders

The above Elliott Learning Leaders led our entire school district in reciting our pledges. @elliottlearners See it through Cameron’s World

Inspiration was felt in full force this week! As our team embraced the start of  the 2019-20 school year, we have been filled with excitement and energy. On Friday, Eric Sheninger was our speaker at our #FISDconvocation2019. His incredible message to me was clear:
-continue to build meaningful relationships,
-be sure you know your why,
-prepare our students for anything, and
-share your story.

Every day, in every one of your schools, great things are happening. How does your community know? @thomasmurray & @e_shenineger

Our vision at Elliott Elementary is… Our intentionally collaborative team:
-seeks first to understand,
-partners with families,
-frequently communicates student progress, and
-believes we can lead each student to meet or exceed grade level standards and close achievement gaps in literacy, math, and science.

With Meet the Teacher Night quickly approaching, we are beginning our family partnerships by creating a warm and welcoming environment for our community!

We are a team who is committed to bringing our vision to life and reaching our mission which is: Our Elliott community celebrates and empowers ALL children – who they are and who they will become.

We can’t wait to to have our building buzzing with student learning in just a few days!

Thank you, Eric Sheninger for starting our year off with great motivation! My virtual mentor, Jan Iwase , was right in sharing your innovative work with me when I began my principalship!
Convocation Speaker

The Night Before the First Day of School

As I watched the mountains shrink in my rear view mirror, my heart ached and my daughter’s tears grew larger and larger. Although we were excited for our journey, saying goodbye to friends and family in a community we cherished was painful. We had begun our move to Texas. During the three day car ride, we had many discussions about our next chapter and what life would be like…

On July 17th (my dad’s 75th birthday), I began my first day in Frisco ISD at Elliott Elementary. From the first moment I stepped on campus, I have been in awe of this community and their support of my transition into this position. Words cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for each person.

This school year marks my 20th year in education and I have had the privilege to work with public school educators in four different states: Indiana, California, Montana, and Texas. Having the opportunity to work alongside many different teachers across the country, I have realized five consistent and impressive characteristics about them:

  1. Teachers work tirelessly, working on the weekends and late into the evenings, to create lesson plans to meet the needs of each student and to collaborate with past and present teachers to learn everything they can about each child in order to lead them towards success.
  2. Teachers spend days creating the perfect classroom environment to ensure a high level of learning is accessible to ALL.
  3. Teachers intentionally build relationships with each student and their families to cultivate a trusting foundation.
  4. Teachers continue to read, research, blog, tweet, reflect and connect with educators across the world to learn and grow in their knowledge about how to better serve their students.
  5. Ultimately, teachers desire to positively change world.

The following video inspired me and led me to reflect on my above observations as I feel truly blessed to be an educator and to work with intentional teachers who are contagiously positive, changing the world – one student at a time.

Articulated From Our Students’ Hearts #L2IPA

Teacher Appreciation Week is upon us and I am compelled to SHOUT OUT and CELEBRATE the most powerful moment I shared with a teacher on my team this school year.  The two of us were in my office processing a playground situation with a group of students. The situation among them was escalating outside on the playground and in the lunchroom; however, the disagreements and uncomfortableness among the peers were never represented in the classroom.

Both of us listened intently to the students, seeking first to understand all sides and perspectives… Then, we asked why do you feel this never happens in the classroom. Without hesitation, a student said, (with the others nodding in agreement)

“We always feel safe in our classroom. It is calm. We are relaxed. When we are in there, we don’t think about what else is happening.”

My heart jumped with utter excitement and my head turned immediately toward the teacher in complete admiration of what had been created within the classroom environment. Although we had to still make a plan for eliminating the problems within our common areas, I wanted to yell in celebration of this teacher, “You are a ROCK STAR!!! This is AMAZING and INCREDIBLE!!”

The #BookSnaps below from Principal Kafele’s, The Teacher 50: Critical Questions for Inspiring Classroom Excellence represent who this teacher is and many others are for all students!
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As I read and reflect on the powerful impact we have on our students each day, I am truly appreciative of the teams of teachers, principals, and district leaders with whom I have worked with across the country. I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to be an educational leader! #JoyfulLeaders

Learning What To Do

I knew what to do.

As I finally stopped to sit down at my desk to reflect on what had just occurred, the words above continued to be repeated in my mind… I knew what to do, I can’t believe it- I knew what to do.

A student was brought to my office visibly upset due to an incident on the playground. At first the behavior was quiet as the student shared a few angry words about what happened. Then, without warning, unexpected behavior forced its way throughout my office as the student became physically escalated.  This usually smiley and quiet student became unreachable. Immediately, I focused on my past experiences of similar situations and the knowledge shared from our incredible school wide behavior team:

  1. Stop all noise/talking
  2. Back completely away from the behavior, reducing negative attention
  3. Allow the student to find a place within the room to cool down
  4. Know and be okay with the fact that there is more to this behavior and we are not going to solve this problem today

I am grateful for our school behavior experts! This team consists of our school psychologist, student and family advocate, counselor, social worker, mental health worker, and nurse. These highly skilled educators are leading our team to be trauma informed, empathetic and understanding of student behaviors, and to prevent negative behavior. Ultimately, this team is leading our school away from reactive band-aid solutions and towards the implementation of positive behavior interventions.

Our actions have the opportunity to demonstrate a quiet understanding, leading students to begin to trust.

What Is Your Four Minute Mile? #L2IPA

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily. -Zig Ziglar

Are you looking for consistent inspiration?  One of my favorite motivators is to listen to podcasts.  The episodes I choose provide the foundation for deep reflection on my current leadership practices.  These moments of reflection allow me to slow down and plan for personal and professional self-improvement, facilitating a transition to committing to new ideas and positive plans.

My daily goal is to be a consistently transparent and positive leader who inspires others to perform beyond their best expectations. As we move into a new school year, the podcast 413: Hostile takeover of your mind from Ziglar’s True Performance Show inspired me to implement new ideas to make positive leadership contagious! The host of the show, Kevin Miller, (along with an excerpt from Zig) discussed the impressive first sub-four-minute mile world record set by Roger Bannister.  Before Roger broke this record, it did not seem possible that someone could run a mile under four minutes… This incredible achievement demonstrated that anything is possible!  Learning about this record and the idea of success beyond expectations, the words of my parents echoed in my heart and mind.  They told me over and over again that I could do anything I set my mind to- I believed them and I want others to own this same belief!

As educators, we are in the business of inspiring and growing positive leaders. It is our job to show our students anything is possible! At the end of this podcast, Kevin asks, “What is your four-minute mile?”  I pass this question onto educators.

  • What goal(s) do you have for yourself and for your students as leaders?
  • With rigorous curriculum and the high expectations of standard mastery, how will you lead students to believe and know they can achieve high levels of success?
  • How will you build relationships with students so they trust you and take risks with their learning?

My four-minute mile goal: Facilitating leadership that guides each one of our school team members and students to see themselves as positive leaders and high achievers.

My current podcast playlist:

Ziglar’s True Performance Show
Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast
Hack Learning Podcast
Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast with William D. Parker