Being an interim principal, I had plenty of questions for everyone—and they all helped. These experiences and conversations supported my efforts back on my campus and began to boost my confidence. I was becoming more sure in my ability to lead a school because of what I learned at REEP.
I had not been an assistant principal. I had not even had a full year being an administrator. I went from being a teacher to becoming an interim principal, and through REEP, I had the confidence to seek the official principalship at my campus. I approached my School Support Officer about the possibility and she said I had to apply. I followed district procedures and went through another rigorous application process.
The REEP experience helped me through it — one because the REEP application process itself was tough, and two, because they provided a course on interviewing. The decision was made in March. I was selected as the new principal of Brookline Elementary.
The REEP program continued and we began the Summer Institute portion. This was an even better experience to an already great program. Here we learned from education entrepreneurs such as Rick Hess, known for his “cage-busting leadership” and Mike “Big Dog” Feinberg, co-founder of the KIPP charter schools.
At the same time, REEP had us work in groups and face situational scenarios of problems faced in education, such as turning a school around and presenting to an education board. We also learned about the importance of leveraging organizational networks and engaging internal/external influencers. There was so much learning in only two weeks! All of this helped in my summer planning as I was preparing for my first official year as principal.
I used everything I learned to formulate my plan for the 2013-2014 school year. As my REEP journey continued, I adjusted based on my new learnings and discussions with colleagues. As I write this post, the school year is now over and Brookline experienced significant growth in student achievement—enough to spark a discussion with upper officials in the district.