We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of having a great teacher in every classroom. We’ve also spent a lot of time emphasizing the challenges our teachers face in dealing with class size, planning time, trying to make sure they get the professional development they need to continue to have the greatest positive impact with their students. We’ve talked about the district’s challenge to provide a competitive salary to retain and attract the best talent, and we’ve talked about the need to make sure our teachers and staff receive the respect they deserve.
Teachers are important. But our administrators – our school leaders- are vital to our district’s work and schools. Most parents have regular interaction with their child’s teacher, or bus driver, or the school secretary. But, unless we attend the SAC meetings or our PTA meetings, we don’t interact with our principals or school leaders very often.
We attended the Jeffco School Board study session November 2nd, when board members met with the district’s JCAA (Jeffco Administrators Association) leadership.
The JCAA membership includes principals, assistant principals, and various levels of district administrators and leadership. At the November 2nd meeting they were represented by:
- Tara Pena, principal, Oberon Middle School
- Esther Valdez, principal, Rose Stein Int’l Elementary School
- Colleen Owens, principal, Green Mountain High School
- Amanda Pierorazio, principal, Coronado Elementary School
- Jeff Pierson, principal, Standley Lake High School
- Sarah Cahill-Sena, Education Technology
- Jon DeStefano, Executive Director JCAA
The purpose for the study session was to share with board members more information about the scope of the principal’s role and how the JCAA can collaborate with the board to work toward the success of Jeffco Generations.
Our administrators shared a long list of duties and roles they are required to fill everyday, yet when asked should the district ever have additional resources, they advocated for compensation for teachers, staff development, and mental health providers in the buildings.
Below are some truly insightful and important comments and points shared during the discussion we thought should be shared. To view the entire discussion on video, you can go to http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public
“One of the exciting parts about being a school leader is that it’s different everyday. It’s never the same…”
“As principal, I find myself on the front lines of moving the district forward. With this great responsibility comes a lot of challenges. I have been a principal for six years in two different articulation areas – I have experience in the north and the south (of the district). I have been assistant principal and a teacher at all levels.”
“It’s important to highlight the roles and responsibilities that have changed over the six years.”
“The principal role today includes being a/an
- Relationship builder
- Culture and climate builder
- Professional developer
- Instructional leader
- A sense maker
- Decision maker
- Data collector
- Goal setter
- Strategic planner & implementer
- Process monitor
- Budget developer & analyst
- Resource allocator
- Mental health provider – without the MSW that goes with it
- Community partner
- Security guard
- Assessment coordinator
- 504 coordinator”
“Responsibilities continue to increase each year. One of the most challenging is having to chose. We are often asked and required to chose:
Do you want
- A fulltime mental health provider?
- A full time instructional coach – or an instructional coach at all?“
Do you need
- An assistant principal?
- Can you have an assistant principal?
- How about a digital librarian?
- A reading interventionist?
- A full time art, music, and PE team?
- Or enough paraprofessionals to cover the lunch recess and support that is required by the students?
“We simply cannot do more with less and less. We know it comes down to funding.”
“We have been asked to share these ideas by our colleagues:
“For our elementary schools, we need a full time mental health person at all elementary buildings. Specifically ones that are of a certain size or have special programs such as gifted and talented, or special education centers.”
“The needs of our students are increasing every single year. And it’s not just special education students who have mental health needs. It’s our typical students. It’s preschoolers, kindergarteners, all the way up to 12th grade. Our kids have those needs and we are not meeting them right now…”
“To be able to recruit and retain really good quality teachers… Insure that teachers are prepared and equipped with the skills they need.”
- “Professional development of staff – leadership, principals and teachers.
- Have to have a quality educator in the class room and the only way to do that is to go out and recruit the right ones that fit, help mirror the type of students, the background and the diversity and ethnicity that we serve in populations. And then grab the good ones and find a way to keep them here so that we do not grow them up and then they leave.”
As Jeffco ventures into the next few years, these are important issues our building and district leaders have raised. Jeffco Generations is a great conversation beginner. But it is just that, a beginner. The entire Jeffco community has an opportunity to have a voice in how they want to see the future of our school district and our students shaped. But, sadly, we all still need to remember, just as our JCAA leaders pointed out, “…it comes down to funding.”