How I have Used My Leadership to Make Positive and Substantive Contributions

My start at Cutler Elementary School was a smooth one as I was able to foster many avenues of communication with a veteran staff.  My personality and belief in the collaboration with all constituents for optimal results was accepted by the staff, which found me to be a good listener and adept at assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a diversity of individuals, programs, and processes.  My seven-year tenure witnessed the transformation of the school culture to one where the adults modeled and facilitated behaviors producing optimal academic, behavioral, and emotional development.

My first year, as the head of this upper elementary school, highlighted the need to address behavioral issues, at both the individual and school levels, by utilizing a universal approach for the entire school.  The past practices of the school community enforced a belief among teachers that if they could not manage student behavior, then they were not doing their job appropriately.  This left a closed environment, in which doors stayed shut, teachers did not collaborate to solve problems, or to reach a higher level of excellence in teaching.   I encouraged my teachers to refer time-consuming disciplinary issues to me, so that they could spend more time effectively teaching academics.  This resulted in an overload of discipline cases for me to handle during my first year.  At the conclusion of the year, I formed a committee of teachers to meet with me over the summer with the goal of addressing this issue.  With disciplinary data that I had accumulated manually, and the historical perspectives of the teachers on the committee, we were able to create a discipline system that included a teacher-buddy system, built-in administrative support, and behavioral expectations based on traits from Pillars of Character.  This resulted in a vast improvement of student behavior and a substantial reduction in discipline issues for me, during my second year at Cutler.  In the spring of this year, I applied for a demonstration-site position in the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) Program.  Under my direction, the Cutler School Community applied, and the school was one of three elementary schools selected in New Hampshire, on the basis that we had already begun to make changes within the framework of PBIS.  That summer I participated in several days of training with our PBIS coach and members of my staff, who were a part of the universal, secondary support, and tertiary support teams.  The knowledge I gained reaffirmed my belief in universal expectations for all constituents, and the power of teaching appropriate behaviors. The following five years manifested a progressive improvement in school climate, constituents’ behavior, and academic learning.

I substantively influenced two academic areas at Cutler School, with the integration of technology into the academic fields, and the implementation and effective utilization of Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).  Both of these initiatives improved the relevance and quality of the standards based teaching at Cutler School, by providing opportunities for differentiated learning and assessments for all students.

At the end of my first year, our declining enrolment in fifth grade made it necessary for us to reduce classroom teachers from six to five for each grade.  Our overall per student spending was one of the lowest in the district, so I advocated for not reducing our teaching force and was supported by my superintendent.  This enabled us to create an integrated technology teacher position, the first in our district at the elementary level.  This position evolved, through staff discussions, trial and error, and professional development, into an effective instructional asset for the students.  The highlights of this program included: collaborative lesson planning by classroom teachers, grade-level teams, and the technology coordinator, as well as creation of the computer lab.

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