Second Chance at Being a School Leader

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Much has changed since August 14,, 2017. I began the year in a new and exciting role as the Multi Tier Systems of Support (MTSS) Coordinator of Tindley Schools. MTSS is the blend of RTI (Response to Intervention) and PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports). The role allowed me to work with all six schools in the Tindley network and spearhead a new initiative that would allow us to continue to fulfill our mission of preparing our scholars for a rigorous education that will make them college ready regardless of their past academic performance.  I was doing great work and was truly enjoying my new role. Then, as it goes in education, things changed. There became an opportunity for me to step back into the role of being a building leader. On August 14, my role shifted from MTSS Coordinator to Co-Principal of Tindley Summit Academy.

Last year was my first year as a school administrator. I served as Co-Principal at Tindley Preparatory Academy. It was a tremendous opportunity both professionally and personally. I learned so much that year being a school administrator. I learned being a principal is definitely a lot harder than being a teacher. I used to believe there was nothing like that first year as a teacher. Well, that is until you have your first year as a principal of a building. After that year, although I was proud of my accomplishments, I had questions on whether or not I wanted to continue as a building leader. There was no doubt I wanted to be involved in education, but the question remained, “Did I need to be a building principal?” I had conversations with my director and CEO immediately after the school year to work through my thoughts.

The summer came and they told me about the MTSS role. I saw it as an opportunity to spearhead a new program that would ultimately benefit students and teachers. I also saw it as an opportunity to grow professionally. I could learn how to manage a large caseload of students. It gave me an opportunity to be exposed to elementary curriculum something I had not yet experienced since I was a secondary educator before pursuing administration.  More importantly, I found it as a way to answer that question that had lingered since the end of the school year, “What is my role in education?” I decided to take on this role and begin a new journey. It was a journey that did eventually answer my question.

The new school year began and I was well into my new role. I had an entire summer to plan, to attend trainings, and to begin rolling out what our MTSS process would look like at our network. I was hitting a groove and could definitely see some immediate wins. As the school days passed, I began to become comfortable in my new role.  I had a pretty good schedule to make sure I was in every building to work with building leaders, but I found myself becoming attached to one of the schools and their students.

Tindley Summit was one of our three elementary schools and they had just moved into a new building. Like all our Tindley Schools, you cannot help but to find yourself feeling attached to our students. This was different and not just because that is where my office was, but because I was able to spend a lot more time with the kids. I found myself a frequent reader to the kindergarten class during their snack time and I found myself as a judge during recess for the 5th grade dance off. In addition to my work with the students, I was also working closely with the teachers providing feedback and being another set of eyes. All that relationship building would eventually pay off.

October rolled around and we had returned from fall break. One of the leaders in the building decided that she wanted to take on a different role, which left a vacancy. I was asked to step into the role since I had experience being a leader and I was in the building already supporting the administration. It seemed like a natural move. For me, it was an exciting start because the time I was spending in the building made me think about last year and the chance to develop relationship with students. The chance to be in the building every day and all day was creeping back in my mind.

It has been a few weeks for me as leader at Tindley Summit Academy and I finally received the answer to my question, “What is my role in education?” My role is to be a building leader. My role is to be at the elementary level. My experiences at the secondary level taught me there is only so much we can do with students when they come to us. Being at the elementary level is where my heart and where my passion is. As an elementary principal, I have an opportunity to shape the educational path for students. If we can start them on the right path we can ease a lot of the pressure that teachers suffer as students move to the secondary level. This is a second chance, a second chance to lead a building and prove that I am suppose to be a building leader.

 

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David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.