I have always enjoyed the One Word tradition that Superintendent Kennedy has shared in his blog cultureofyes.ca for the past eight years.  Often I have considered what word might best describe my goals and leadership efforts for the year ahead, but I had never formally committed to one so I thought I should this year.  In my first year as a secondary school principal, 2023 is poised to be a busy and memorable one in my career.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to add focus to my own professional growth plan with the selection of one word to help focus me in 2023.

I have always found the ability to find positive energy and not let fatigue get in the way of making school and my work fun. As there is so much new to me at Rockridge I feel an added excitement that brings new joy to my job each day.  Despite being an old guy who has just turned 50 years old and has a new hip, I don’t feel like a veteran who is grizzled and tired.  Taking on the leadership of a new school has rejuvenated me and once again inspired me to learn, work hard, build relationships and create a positive first year impression with my new school community.  A one word focus could provide me clarity in my direction and enhance my awareness of my intentions as school principal.

Learning would be an easy choice as I do need to be open to learning new things this year, but it doesn’t capture enough depth for me.  Transition could be another option to focus on my personal learning journey in a new building this year, but it doesn’t seem quite right either.  I also considered balance as it is easy to become overwhelmed or bogged down in a new role and keeping a work-life balance is essential to my well-being . . . Again, a good choice, but personal wellness is a focus I can keep on top of and I want my one word to connect effectively to my school life, learning and leadership.

While thinking so hard about the word I thought I needed to add for 2023, I instead reflected on what I feel has worked well for me thus far in the 2022-23 school year, and there it was.  Present is the word that best reflects the progress I have made in my new leadership role.  At the core it seems rather simple to be present, but I have determined that in fact, being present takes work, energy, effort, focus and organization.  There are so many incredible things to see in the course of a day at Rockridge and I know I cannot be present for everything, but demonstrating a commitment to being present allows me to have my finger on the pulse of our great school.  If I think of what being present as a school leader really means, it comes down to what I can do:

  • If I am present I can effectively understand what students are learning in a particular class.  
  • If I am present I can build relationships with staff and students.
  • If I am present I can be supportive and involved in my school community.
  • If I am present I can celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of students and staff.
  • If I am present I will be open to opportunities where my leadership is needed and can have a positive impact.
  • If I am present I will be available for our school community, I will be visible and able to have a positive influence across our campus.

Being present at Rockridge has been an inspiring opportunity for me this year.  I continue to be amazed and proud of what our students and staff accomplish together on a daily basis and feel honoured to be a part of their road to graduation.  I also hope my presence will continue to be a positive influence at Rockridge and reciprocate the inspiration and support that my fellow Ravens provide for me each day.