The Vision: All Students Get What They Need

    Small Principal/Colossal Idea: Making Sure Every Public School Student Gets What He Needs

    Susan Cleveland, Principal
    Boerne Middle School South
    Boerne ISD, Boerne, Texas
    Raise Your Hand Texas Alumna, ’14 (Harvard – Leadership: An Evolving Vision)

    Susan Cleveland, principal at Boerne Middle School South, is physically smaller than your stereotypical campus leader. She says so herself.

    “Just watch; when I sit at my desk, I’m going to look tiny,” she exclaims, laughing. “You see? Don’t I look like a little kid?”

    (Pssst… she actually does.)

    It’s not anything the common observer would pick up on right away. But, once Cleveland mentions how petite she is, you can totally see it.

    Still, in her 13th year as an educator, Cleveland boldly rises to the challenges public school principals face. She competently leads her faculty and staff and she courageously stands up for each of her students.

    “I have pretty clear ideas of what schools should look like and how they should support kids,”she says. “Every kid should get what they need. We should meet them where they are and we should make sure they grow. That’s our job.”

    Cleveland walks the talk. She is committed to every child at Boerne Middle School South. She is particularly involved in the day-to-day goings-on of her students with various disabilities – the students in the school’s life skills special education classes.

    Principal Susan Cleveland, Boerne Middle School, Boerne ISD

    “I visit them every day,” Cleveland says. “One of my little buddies twerks when he sees me. It’s awesome!”

    On a recent September morning, Dillon, the twerker, showed off a little bit of his dance moves during a special Raise Your Hand Texas class visit. He and his fellow classmates lit up when Cleveland walked in. They perpetuated a seemingly hilarious inside joke about the school buses. They made space for their principal at the art table. They connected with Cleveland. And she responded to her students in a most natural, respectful, and engaging manner that seemed to say being physically or mentally different doesn’t have to detract from a positive public school experience.

    “When I think about what I want for my kids, I want to know when they go (to school,) people are making purposeful decisions and supporting my child in whatever way that may be,”Cleveland says. “We want kids to feel that they fit – that they have a place.”

    Cleveland loves to visit her students in the Life Skills classroom. She says it’s her mission to make sure all students fit in and feel they have a place in the academic environment.