Opinion: Dear Perfect Principal

Sandy Asper shares a letter that any teacher would love to be able to send.

Dear  Mr. Perfect,

YOU are the reason that I am excited about coming back to school. I am beyond crazy about what you said at our very first meeting yesterday. I loved when you gave us the shortened version (and thank you for that because it was incredibly hot in the library) of your philosophy of being a principal.

You spoke your truth and we all sat there in the library with our chins in our hands to keep our collective mouths from falling open.

You said that you were here for us, really here for us...not just for us, but for the us and the students. You said, "I am in this job because I love kids and teachers. I am not necessarily passionately in love with the district." We laughed and applauded cautiously. You went on to say "In this district the players change often and Newport-Mesa is notorious for being a jumping off place for bigger and better jobs in other districts. If I am successful here, and success to me means that you approve of my help, and the students thrive under all of our care, I promise you that I have no other ambitions. I believe that principals and teachers staying in one school for many years brings security to our students and their parents. Having a neighborhood school where students can return to their schools after they have graduated from high school, college or whatever job they have, is incredibly important to their sense of community and certainty in an uncertain world. I want you to have that security as well."

And here is the delicious part of what you said yesterday morning, "I will tell you almost every day how great you are, and it won't be like the awkward and insincere compliments that you have sometimes received, because I will know you. I will hang out with you in the classroom, in the teachers'  room, and you are welcome in my office anytime to sample my Costco cookies and coffee. My desk will not be between us. I will not have any hidden agendas or plans. I will not have favorites who get the best classes and equipment. I will not try to divide you just to build my own power base. I will fight ...yes fight, to get you the equipment you want and need, and will help you when you need it."

You also added, "I will respect the teachers' union and work with any and all representatives from that organization with the full knowledge that teachers' unions are so important to the health of the public schools. You need to know how much I respect you for continuing to teach under the sometimes scandalous conditions that you don't complain about, and sometimes don't even notice because it's gone on so long: no air conditioning, huge classes, lack of equipment and sometimes textbooks, the constant wailing about how teachers reject new technology while you are actually begging for it, and the seemingly endless attacks in the media.

I'm not going to tell you that what you do is the most important thing in the world because you already know it."

There was not a dry eye in that library Mr. Perfect Principal.

Thank You,

A Happy Teacher

S. R. Petersen September 05, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Sandy, How I wish we could send that note.....maybe someday. You manage to touch on many critical education issues in a clever and concise way. Keep up the good work!
Laura Holmes September 06, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Bob Francy and Brooke Booth were those principals for me!
George Greenwalt September 06, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Wow!! What a great and sad commentary on some of the pricipals that have come through Newport-Mesa. I hope we have all had the chance to work for a principal that gets "it". However I know that I have also worked for some that had no idea what I did how or why I was doing it. I wish every current principal and anyone considering becoming one could read this piece, it is brilliant!!


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