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Principals deserve thanks for strong leadership

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This past year SFUSD honored four principals with the S.F. Mayor’s Principle of the Year award. (courtesy photo)
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Did you know October is National Principals Month?

You may be surprised to hear there is a whole month dedicated to recognizing the work of school principals — but if you think about the big job they have, you’ll understand why.

I’ve visited a lot of our schools and had the pleasure of seeing almost all of our school principals in action. Suffice it to say, I’m impressed.

LEADERS WHO SERVE

Our principals and assistant principals go above and beyond every day for our students, families and their colleagues while tackling never-ending to-do lists.

I see them early in the morning checking in with their students and making sure hungry children eat breakfast. I see them out on the yard at lunch monitoring to keep students safe. And I see them in the classroom working with teachers to improve instruction.

They meet with parents, students, teachers and members of the community all day long. They often lead meetings at night and come to school sports events on weekends.

And all the while, they proudly represent their school communities and our district as a whole.

But principals are more than busy professionals — they are, in many ways, the glue that holds together all the parts that make up a school community. Our principals help others to be their best.

Principal Jean Robertson of Glen Park Elementary once told me: We principals are put on this earth to serve our teachers, so they can do their jobs well.

A CHANCE TO SHINE

Here at the San Francisco Unified School District, we are honored to have site leaders who act as both brightly burning candles and large mirrors reflecting the brilliance of their school teams.

Each year the Mayor’s Office selects a handful of principals to receive the S.F. Mayor’s Principal of the Year award. This past year Jane Mancina (Zaida Rodriguez Early Education), Anastasia Shatner (Tenderloin Community), Jason Hannon (Aptos Middle) and Ellen Wong (Downtown High) were honored for their school leadership.

These are just a handful of the many award-worthy individuals in our midst. I visit schools almost every day and I can tell you that we have many, many outstanding principals walking our school halls.

Similar to how school principals aim to hold up the teachers they support, those of us who work at the district central service departments — many of whom are former principals — challenge ourselves to find ways to support school leaders. In fact, we meet regularly with our principals and conduct surveys to make sure we are always improving our services to them.

APPRECIATE A PRINCIPAL TODAY

The official month for principal recognition may be ending, but it’s never too late to show a principal how much they are appreciated.

I’m sure you can think of many creative ways to do this. One simple way is to go online and write a quick word of praise via our SFUSD RAVE award program: www.sfusd.edu/en/rave-recognizing-all-valuable-employees.html.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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