Posted in Feelings Matter, Innovative PD, Reflection, Servant Leadership

Costumes Show You Care

Recently I was cleaning out my office closet and noticed that most of it was full of my costumes and accessories that have accumulated over the years! I thought to myself, I wonder how many other principals’ closets look like this?

Continue reading “Costumes Show You Care”

Posted in Innovative PD, Instructional Tips, Reflection, Servant Leadership

Green Light Leading


Join me on at the VAESP Conference this month to learn why and how green light leading can increase staff engagement, morale, and success! Throw away that NO button and say, “Yes!”

After-presentation Update! 6.28.17

What a great turnout for this presentation! We even had to get more chairs and still had standing room only! I was so encouraged to see so many amazing leaders in the room trying to find ways for self-improvement and being the best they could for their schools. Thank you for those that attended and for the follow up conversations I had with many of you. Keep me updated on how you are giving the green light in your school. You inspire me!


Posted in Feelings Matter, Inclusive Practices, Servant Leadership

Every Month is The Month of the Military Child at Ashland

April is the Month of the Military Child, but this takes on more meaning in our school. Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger, in 1986, started this movement to remind others that military children also sacrifice and serve alongside their parents. Every year, the U. S. Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy continue to their work in promoting our military-connected students. Continue reading “Every Month is The Month of the Military Child at Ashland”

Posted in Analogies/Metaphors, Guest Posts, Media, Servant Leadership

Lone Nut or First Follower: Building a Culture That Celebrates Uniqueness #WEIRDPRINCIPALS

The #WeirdPrincipals effort is all about energy and starting movements that inspire others. Similar to #PrincipalsInAction and #KidsDeserveIt, we seek to unleash leadership potential by inspiring others to be themselves, do their very best, and run into school to make magic happen every day! @_AndyJacks and @JessicaCabeen wrote this together to show how two principals from very different parts of our country can both lead through their own unique personalities, and that you don’t have to be perfect or always follow what the ‘textbook’ tells you to do in order to be successful. What better way to describe this than the Ted Talk on How to Start a Movement by Derek Sivers. But remember, it’s not just about being the lone nut, it’s also about being the first follower… Continue reading “Lone Nut or First Follower: Building a Culture That Celebrates Uniqueness #WEIRDPRINCIPALS”

Posted in Analogies/Metaphors, Servant Leadership

If my students are Batman, then I must be Alfred…

Usually, I’m looking for any excuse I can find to dress up and act like a nut for our students at school. If you follow anything of mine, you’ve probably seen that already, dressing up like Thor, the Elf on the Shelf, Mustafa, you name it. But today, as we were getting ready to come to school, and my own kids were getting dressed in their costumes for “Powered by Kindness” day of our #GreatKindnessChallenge, it hit me. If my son and so many of my students were going to be Batman today, it’s only fitting that I should be Alfred. Continue reading “If my students are Batman, then I must be Alfred…”

Posted in Feelings Matter, Innovative PD, Servant Leadership

Effective Leadership Starts with Positive Thinking -This I Believe

I was recently tasked in one of my graduate classes at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) to write a statement about my beliefs in the form of “This I Believe.” This style was founded through NPR as a series that is pretty similar to what Ted Talks have now become. I thought not only was this very powerful in making me focus and reflect, but that if I believed it so much, that I should put it out there publicly. I chose to focus on one specific belief that I feel very strongly about. Here we go… Continue reading “Effective Leadership Starts with Positive Thinking -This I Believe”

Posted in Analogies/Metaphors, Servant Leadership

Why We Gave our Reserved Parking Away to our Teachers

I really don’t know why principals have reserved spots. I tend to be at school really early and leave really late, so it’s not like I can’t ever find a parking spot.

I’ve always felt weird about it. When I go to a business, store, or other public place, they typically have their staff park as far back as possible to let customers park closer to the building. But when I go to schools, there is an abundance of reserved parking up front for staff. I feel that more and more, my job is to help support and amplify others’ efforts. How can I park up front and feel good about that while my team parks in the back? Leaders eat last and leaders park in the back!

This year, my assistant principal, RJ Lucciotti, and I decided to practice what we preach in every way possible. Parking was an easy and obvious example for us. I’m proud of RJ because he didn’t even flinch when we discussed this and was all in. We decided to use two major themes we have been discussing with our team this year and recognize the above and beyond efforts of our staff that we continually observe. We had our reserved signs removed and replaced them with new ones for staff members showing GRIT and Belief.


In a previous post, I discussed the importance of grit and what G.R.I.T. meant to me. I think if we focus on showing these characteristics for our students, there is no way we will not be successful!

GRIT (3)


My #OneWord for 2016 is believe and is something that we discuss probably every day at Ashland. Learn more why here. It’s also literally on the walls in our school so it reminds us every day to believe in our students, our team, and ourselves.


So now I park in the back parking lot, and honestly I really enjoy the walk back and forth to my car every day. I feel satisfaction on practicing what I preach and trying to serve and recognize the efforts of my team.

In fact, many times I still see cars parked in these reserved front spots as I leave which doesn’t surprise me since I see how hard they work! I chat with teachers as we walk in. I also get a second during my walk back to take a couple of deep breaths and know that I gave my all that day!


We have been updating these spots about every 2-3 weeks and started this mid year. These are hard to choose only because so many of our staff members are  doing an awesome job every day for our students and each other! My ex-spot is reserved for GRIT and RJ’s ex-spot is reserved for Belief and parents can see these signs every day as they walk in to school.


Sean Zortman, 3rd Grade Teacher – For amazing growth and tenacity, getting after it in his first year teaching

Carolyn English, 1st Grade Teacher – For killing it as an educator and team lead, being as strong as ever, teaching about 35 years, what an amazing example for us

The Entire Kindergarten Team – For supporting a teammate and going above and beyond together

Vera Crouse, Music Teacher – For putting on an unbelievable student musical, The Lion King Kids, in her 1st year teaching, she really got after it


Becky Lucas, 4th Grade Teacher – For continually showing believe in every single student and providing for their needs

Ruth O’Connell, Learning Disabilities Special Education Teacher – For totally believing in her students and helping them believe in themselves

Luis Hernandez, 4th Grade Teacher, and Brandon Carter, School Counselor – For starting from scratch to learn coding and robotics as our new robotics coaches, now helping their teams reach states and world competitions this year

Sarah Trachtenberg, 1st Grade Teacher – For not only accepting students with needs, but viewing them as opportunities and wanting them for her own growth as an educator

As we continue this moving forward, I’m going to update this post with the new names.

So…if you are reading this and have a reserved parking spot, why? Something to think about…