Saturday, February 09, 2013

Having Principals

I first met Principal Seamus Marriott and his wife Theresa in Wisconsin at a Walloon Institute and later traveled to work at his school in Shanghai, then in Cairo, and most recently in Balikpapan. Not only did he invite us to great locations, he helped us plan side trips, introduced into other schools, fantastic teachers and enthusiastic kids, and even took us for a spinning time at a Scottish Ball.  While we have had a great time working for him in each location, the visit to Pasir Ridge was special indeed. 

Twenty years of visiting schools has taught me a lot of things, but one fact gets reinforced every visit: Principals set the tone of the school.  The good ones are out of their offices more than in, poking heads in classrooms, attending assemblies and after school basketball games.  They know the names of the kids, the parents, and who likely had breakfast that morning.  The faculty comes to these principals voluntarily; they know the names of their teachers' dogs, spouses, and if their parents are failing. Part counselor, part boss, always setting a standard for professionalism.  I have to say, when I was just a parent, I had no idea how the important the role of a principal is.  Some manage staffs of dozens of people making sure that standards for learning are met right along with cleaning the white boards when needed.  But over the years I have learned.  It takes about 10 minutes for a consultant to discern if they are walking into a healthy or an unhealthy school, and undoubtedly, the diagnosis can be traced right to the principal’s office.  In a world of great diversity when it comes to principals, Seamus is a gem.

Turns out that not only should Seamus be giving principal lessons, he is a poet!  Seamus wrote us a poem for our final assembly.  Not just a poem, an ODE. 

Ode to Our Visiting Poets
By Seamus Marriott

Poets pick their words for clarity and prose
Crafting a bouquet for the reader’s nose
They paint a picture and tell a tale
They can make us happy or can make us wail
Words are their tools like an artist’s brush on the page
Embossed in the ink or even digital in this new age
Our learning this week has been rewarding and fun
And we are sad that our time together is done
Thank you for enriching our words and encouraging our PIPES
We will remember you fondly and proudly wear our new poetry stripes
You have truly developed our poetry lens
Best wishes from PRIS and all your new poetry friends.

Thank you my friend.


Kpower said...

Hooray for Seamus, and hooray for you Sara for writing about principals with principles!
See you in 2014 back in Shanghai

Love your NEW Elementary Librarian, Poet and Book Lover, Kimbra Power


Vivian Kirkfield said...

Hello Sara,
It's lovely to connect with you via your blog. I came to visit because I see you are a speaker at the Asian Festival of Children's content...and I've been invited to speak there as well.:)I look forward to meeting you in person...your blog is amazing...your work is awesome! And your travel schedule is intimidating.:)

As a former teacher, I totally agree that it is the principal who sets the tone of a school...I was fortunate in that regard! Later as a parent...and now as a storyteller in kindergarten and first grade classes, the same holds true.

Charles Waters said...

What a great post. Principals are the blueprint for schools and it's nice to know that Principal Seamus is a great architect.