Great story by Karin Chenoweth from The Education Trust on Huffington Post about an amazing elementary school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. New Mexico schools have been getting hit a little for their low performance but right in the middle of the city is a great story. The big difference in the school is the principal who is a former Marine pilot. One of the great reasons to make sure that Troops to Teachers continues!
From the blog post:
The overall atmosphere of the school is clearly set by the man who has been its principal for the past nine years, Tom Graham. Graham's first career was as a Marine attack-jet fighter pilot. After his 20 years in the military, he decided to go into education, and -- after teaching for a few years -- became a principal.
At the risk of over-stereotyping, there are two kinds of ex-Marines, in my experience: drill-sergeant types, very precise and sometimes a bit overbearing; and unflappable types who exude an amused attitude of there's-not-a-lot-you-can-do-to-me-that-others-haven't-already-tried. Tom Graham falls into the latter category, which means he couples a cheerful awareness of the messiness that surrounds kids' lives with an unwillingness to let that messiness derail an education.
"We keep you safe, make you warm or cool, and give you a meal; then you have to learn," Graham said. "I'm sorry if your mom's in jail, but this is your escape route. You're as good as anybody when you're here."
He has set a very simple expectation, embodied in the school motto: "Do the right thing at the right time." Although easy to memorize, it isn't easy to do -- Graham admits that, even for him, it isn't always easy -- but kids understand it and aspire to it, and so do teachers and staff.
WOW - for all you troops who became teachers and are ready for your leadership role, make sure you take a look at American College of Education programs in Education Leadership.
The result is a school where everyone is learning just about all the time and where children - no matter what their background -- have a fair shot at taking advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead of them.