Hats off to school principals!

Published 9:10 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

October is School Principals’ Month. Governor Snyder has issued a proclamation to recognize school principals for the work they do. If you get a chance to thank a present or former principal who you think made a difference in your life or your children’s lives, try to do that sometime this month. These men and women mean so much to education in this community and in our nation.

Principals set the tone for the whole school. This is mainly a matter of attitude and caring. Smiling at students as they come in the door; calling students by name (knowing their names); being visible throughout the day, like at passing time, in the lunchroom, out by buses, and on the playground; all of these positive actions show people that the principal is there for them. Other people in the building tend to emulate these habits and the whole school is a more welcoming, inviting place.

Good principals are good communicators. Here at Brandywine, we have a short, simple rule: “No surprises.” As much as possible, we want to let teachers, students, and parents know what’s happening in and around our schools. If bad news happens, we try to let people know ourselves before they hear it from elsewhere or get left wondering what’s going on. The key first-line communicator is often the building principal. My principals also hear something preached from me regularly: “Return all phone calls.” We want people to know that their concerns matter to us.

The job has changed in recent years. More reports to write, more data to examine, more detailed staff evaluations, and more legal standards to uphold are just a few that come to mind. Despite these and other demanding challenges, the good principals enjoy coming to work every day and know how important they are to their students. You look at them and you can tell they enjoy what they do.

I’m very fortunate to work with these school principals here at Brandywine: Pat Weckel, Josh Hood, Karen Weimer, Jim Boger, and Michelle Wruble. I thank them and all our area school principals. I hope you can take time to do the same for the principals you know or have known.


John Jarpe is the superintendent of Brandywine Community Schools. He can be reached at (269) 684- 7150.