Saturday, February 28, 2009

Term Limits for Principals?

In a recent Howard County Times article by Jennifer Broadwater entitled Union head Seeks Term Limits for Principals, the concept of limiting the amount of time a principal can lead a school is recommended by the President of the Howard County Teachers Association Ann DeLacy. She makes this proposal based partly on her belief that principals become too powerful and less responsive to teacher concerns the longer they serve in a school; and partly on the results of her association's annual job satisfaction survey, which asks teachers and support staff to rate the leadership and work environment at schools in Howard County.

Ann DeLacy, the President of HCEA, said the poor ratings given the same schools year after year lead her to believe the survey is ignored by school system leaders.

"I'm subject to term limits; the County Council is subject to term limits; our county executive is subject to term limits; our president is subject to term limits. So why not principals?" DeLacy said.

Well, this is why I believe term limits are and always have been a bad idea in politics and at the principal level. Term limits assume that all leaders are the same and that they have a shelf-life much like a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread. By enacting term limits, it prevents superintendents and school board members to select the best people for the job. If a school is fortunate to have a really good administrator, term limits would force the superintendent to transfer the principal to another school regardless of whether this was the best decision for the students, staff and community. Like any job, it takes time to be good at what you do. About the time an effective principal understands the needs of the school and is enacting positive change for students, under the rules of term limits, a principal would be removed based on time served not results. This doesn't make sense to me.

What are your thoughts?

Click here to read the entire article.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Family Fun Night Is A BIG Success!

The ELMS Student Services Team hosted our school's first Family Fun Night this past week to promote positive communication between home and school and between parents and children. Through out the evening, families participated in team building activities that were designed to promote effective communication, reinforce the value of creating a supportive learning community that embraces asset development and to review the ELMS expectations as set forth in our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework.

We had over 70 parents, students and staff participate last Thursday evening. The activities ranged from a blind obstacle course, balloon games, PBIS Jeopardy, role playing and trust circles. Here are some of the comments we heard:

"Thanks for helping me talk to my mom!"

"Wow, I didn't know my son was so insightful!"

"It was really fun spending time with my whole family...and learning new ways to have fun!"

The evening culminated with an ice cream sundae party and a raffle to give away various prizes. I want to commend the ELMS Student Services Team for organizing this wonderful evening and thank all of the parents, students and staff who participated. A great time was had by all!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Baltimore Sun Photo

Game Tickets: $75.00 each

Parking: $20.00

Popcorn and a Coke: $7.50

TERPS beating Tarheels: PRICELESS!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Amazing, But DIRTY Artist!

Meet Scott Wade. He is a Texas artist who creates works of art out of the dirt that collects on the back of his car window. A truly amazing story and fun to view. is slightly
dirty! ; )

Click here to see the full story!

Thanks Frank for sharing this story with me!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Paulus Named Howard County 2009 Outstanding Technology Leader in Education

Two years ago, the digital generation gap was alive and well here at Elkridge Landing Middle School. Most of our students were light years ahead of our staff in their ability to use a variety of computer hardware and applications available in our school. While most of our teachers had mastered the basics of point-and-click, they were not effectively leveraging the potential of technology to enhance student learning.

Wow, what a difference two years can make! Especially, when you have a talented and dedicated person working exclusively on providing a comprehensive, school-based professional development plan that includes the training of staff on how to use various computer applications and hardware, sharing the latest trends in the tech world and co-teaching with teachers as they implement lessons that infuse technology to increase student motivation.

Therefore, I am very happy to announce that Ms. Geordie Paulus, the ELMS Technology Support Teacher, was recently named Howard County’s 2009 Outstanding Technology Leader in Education. Ms. Paulus has been a pioneer here in Howard County and at our school by being the first Technology Support Teacher at the middle level. In this recently created pilot-position, she has been responsible for creating and facilitating professional development activities to increase the use of technology by our teachers and students; collaborating with our school leaders to create a comprehensive technology plan that maximizes the use of the hardware and software provided by the county; and modeling the integration of technology into all aspects of our school’s culture to increase student engagement and staff productivity. Without question, she is most deserving of this honor. Way to go Geordie!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Interviewing Tips

Interviewing Tips For Teachers

This past Friday morning, a friend of mine at Johns Hopkins University, invited me to serve on a panel with other educational leaders responsible for interviewing teacher candidates. He asked the members of the panel to share interviewing tips with his graduate students who will entering the job market in the near future. Serving on the panel with me were two hiring specialists from Howard County, Maryland and an elementary school administrator from the same district. After hearing the practical and valuable advice each member of the panel gave, I thought it would be worthwhile to share it with you.

Do your homework!
Review online student performance data sources about the school system and the particular school where you will interview. Visit the school’s website to gain information about the school’s mission and programs. Gather printed materials at the district office. Inquire about the school system’s major goals, programs, demographics and student achievement data.

Prepare a portfolio!
Most administrators appreciate seeing examples of lesson plans, student products, notes from parents/students, letters from mentor teachers and colleagues, pictures of you in the classroom, and digital resources you have created. During the interview, use the portfolio as a tool to illustrate answers to the questions you will be asked about instruction and classroom management.

Dress for the success!
Dress professionally. Your choice of clothing tells a lot about you, and as they say, you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Be on time!
Make a trial run to the district office/school the day before your interview and organize any documents you may have been asked to bring along, including extra copies of your resume and application.

Accentuate the positive - the interview!
Most districts have a multi-level interview process. Typically, the first interview serves as a screening to eliminate those candidates that don’t meet minimal requirements. Once you make it past the first interview, you meet with a curriculum specialist. The final interview is with a school administrator and possibly other members of the school’s staff.

Treat the interview as a classroom situation; project your sincere enthusiasm for teaching and pleasure in communicating with others. Answer questions specifically, using examples from your own teaching experience and using artifacts from your portfolio.
Be prepared to talk about your classroom management skills. School administrators want teachers that are highly competent and know how to handle kids with minimal support. In addition, you should have at least one or two questions for the principal.

Exit strategy
At the end of the interview, thank the person or committee members before you leave, and write a follow-up letter or email expressing your continued interest in the position.

5 Deadly Interview Mistakes

  1. Criticizing your previous school or other work experiences.
  2. Name-dropping
  3. Dressing inappropriately
  4. Not mentioning your passion for teaching and helping kids learn
  5. Coming empty handed

Thanks to Dr. Bill Sowders, Kim Mahle, Rob Bruno and Amy Green
for providing such great insight.