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Why We Really Should Show the ‘Personal’ Side of Being a Principal with Our Students

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So working with over 370 kindergarten students you really get an honest opinion from them on just about everything.  This year we started asking them specifically questions about being a Principal (Kid Principal) and it really started to make me think about what I am saying and showing these students about being an adult.  Do students just need to see me in my office or in classrooms evaluating teachers?  Or as we are shaping futures of our communities is it “okay” to show that the Principal has a life outside of the office?

The medals in the picture are of all the races I have done since starting at Woodson four years ago-I keep these up in my office and love the comments I get from student-mainly “did you win all these races?”.  But it opens the door for me to share my love of running and triathalons with young learners and explain to them what a triathalon  or half marathon is and what I do to prepare for an event (and yes even thought I haven’t won a race I still keep trying :)).

I also have pictures of my former ‘life’ and books of my previous classrooms.  “You mean you were a teacher?”  “Why did you change your mind and want to be a Principal?” “How old are you anyway?” are a few of the conversation starters those pictures have drawn out of students.  I love to share my story and let them know that it is okay to change your mind when you grow up and having different jobs happens and helps me grow and be a better person (and Principal).

However my favorite time is showing off my family.  I am really lucky to have children of my own who love to come and volunteer at my school.  The kids always are intrigued by the fact that I am a mom-and think it is funny that my younger son was a student at our school “Mrs. Cabeen-did he call you mom or Mrs. Cabeen?”. 

So the next time you have an opportunity to share a little bit about the personal side of being a Principal-give it a try.  It may open student’s eyes to opportunities they wouldn’t have dreamed of before.


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Jessica has been the Principal of the Woodson Kindergarten Center for the past four years.  Prior to that she was the Assistant Principal at the Middle School and Special Education Supervisor at the Secondary Level for the Austin Public Schools in Austin MN.  Prior to moving to Austin she worked within the Saint Paul Public Schools for seven years.  She received a Bachelors in Music Therapy from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, a Masters Degree in Special Education from Saint Thomas University in Saint Paul MN, and her Director of Special Education and Principalship licenses from Hamline University.  


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Guest Saturday, 20 July 2019