Reflections on my first year as ‘Principal Albrecht’
I have been in education now for 29 years but only one year as a principal. You would think that after all these years, there wouldn’t be that much more for me to learn but, oh how you’re wrong! I’ve always loved a good challenge and have often looked for a new opportunity to grow and step outside of my comfort zone a bit. I did that when I went from teaching music for 15 years to the classroom to teach 5th grade. And again, when I left McKinley after 18 years to join the staff at the newly formed Canon Exploratory School. Once again, I challenged myself when I started the middle school here and then left 2 years later to be the Dean of Students at Washington. But I have never faced as daunting of a challenge or stepped so far out of my comfort zone as I have as principal of this building.
Although I know I still have much to learn, I do believe that I’ve learned more during the last 10 months than ever before in my career. This year our school theme was trees. I’ve always loved trees and I feel you can learn so many things from them. Using the lovely little poem above, allow me to share some of what I’ve learned.
Stand tall and proud: I am so proud of the work our staff and students have accomplished not just this year but during the 6 years of CES’s existence. We have taken what was once a very successful but small Madison School and offered this model to hundreds more students than was possible before. Although there have been bumps along the way and a learning curve that is still not complete, our teachers are passionate and dedicated about what we do and making it more successful every year. I would challenge you to find a harder working and selfless group of people as we have here. That includes many of our parents who volunteer their time and energy in ways that allow us to do what we do and without them we would be lost.
Sink your roots deep into the earth: In order for us to continue to move in an upward trajectory, we need to look at the work we’ve done in the past–going all the way back to the beginning of Madison to just this last year. We have to learn from our successes and our failures. As we always tell kids, we all make mistakes; what’s important is that we learn from them and do better next time. Believe me, I made my fair share of mistakes. I have learned and I will do better next time. As trees endure the winds of time, their roots reach deeper and grow stronger. I know there will be more mistakes to make and new challenges to face, but I know that I’ve come out of this year better and stronger than before.
Be content with your natural beauty: CES is different from other schools. I’ve learned that this is perfect for many and difficult for some. I’ve learned not to take it personally when people don’t like you or what you do. I’ve learned to understand that in order for me to become the best version of myself and for CES to do the same, I have to be content with the fact that not everyone will love us, but we can’t compromise our foundational principles and philosophies to please people. We have many good things happening here–our natural beauty– and we need to embrace our positive core in order to become even more beautiful.
Go out on a limb: This year, we have re-grounded who we are as Canon Exploratory School and realized that although there are terrific things happening here, we can’t get too comfortable. Exploratory learning should be organic and evolve with the changing world and clientele. We are going out on limb and taking the risk of trying some new things and challenging ourselves to self-assess the work we do to see if it’s still “the best work”. This next year, and the years after, may look different than before–and that’s a good thing! We need to take risks and go out on that limb.
Drink plenty of water: I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a workaholic! However, I’ve learned that I have to make sure to “stay hydrated” and have balance in my life or I don’t have enough to give to others. I hope our teachers have learned that too!
Remember your roots: My roots are in teaching. I have taught children my entire adult life. I still teach kids but in a different way than before. Now, instead of math or reading, it’s about how we treat one another, how we can be successful, how we learn from our mistakes, and how we can be good people among many other things. I am also an instructional leader/teacher for teachers so they can become the best versions of themselves.
Enjoy the view: At some point this year, I realized I needed to just sit back and appreciate where I am. I am in a position and school I love. I work with the best people!! We have the most wonderful parents and terrific kids. And we do all of this in what is probably the best school district to work for in the state. I am a truly blessed person! It’s a great view!!
This next year, our school theme will be about the garden:
There is still much more to learn!!
Enjoy the view~our year together~
Below is the video I created for the kids from many of the blog pictures I’ve used this year. Enjoy!
Have a wonderful Summer and thank you for everything!
Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal