Ode to My Principal

This year I was lucky enough to cut my teeth with the best principal I have ever worked with.  Unfortunately for me but luckily for my district, TJ will be the Director of Federal Programs in my district next school year.  As we were talking this year about my blog, he said his blog would the Bullet List.  In honor of my principal, TJ Schneckloth, I wrote what I consider the truisms he modeled for me this year.

Relationships are key.  

  • As I pulled into town, he sent me a text to see if I needed help the next day to empty the moving truck or if I needed to borrow his truck.
  • He sits at his table in the office so his back is at the door when he is having a meeting. It communicates that the person he is with is the most important person in the world.
  • He talks to everyone.  He gives everyone his full attention.
  • His favorite interview question is: What does the following quote mean to you and how does it relate to teaching? “When all else fails…the relationship prevails.”
  • He introduces himself to every new student and parent when they register and also to every new guest teacher.


When working with others, remember to have a heart of a coach.

  • As a first year SAM, I make mistakes.  He has always been respectful.  Read about one example here.
  • As a first year, he also used a gradual release model to help me become the SAM he needed me to be.  I am glad we went slow because now I am a confident that my decisions will reflect his vision for our school.
  • He also gives high quality feedback.  I love that when I receive feedback from him because I know my next steps.
  • This year we implement teacher leaders on my campus.  It went smoothly because he preached, modeled and taught about having a heart of a coach.
  • I watched as he had difficult talks with parents about the next steps for their student.  They respected his vision because the parents knew that TJ wanted what was best for their kids.

When in doubt read and surround yourself with books.

  • The first time we met in person, he handed me a book and told me to read it.  He explained that this is part of his philosophy for reading education.  This moment made the week of unpacking/moving worth it.
  • He always has a stack of books to the side of his desk.  Books fill his cabinets.  His current favorites are on his counter.
  • He creates book study groups for different groups and shares his reading with others.
  • He invites people to our school to share the love of books with the students.  He reads to our students and models good reading habits.

Words cannot do justice to role my principal has played in my professional growth.  I am profoundly impacted by this year.  As I look forward, I know that I will take these experiences with me and also the World’s best interview question.  So Thank You TJ!  I can’t wait to see the impact you will make next year.

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