When the 2020-21 school year began, school principals carried a heavy responsibility for the students, families, and staff members in their care. The hours were long, emotions were high at times, and leaders were tapped out before the school bell rang.
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) District and School Improvement (DSI) team, which supports K-12 administrators, saw an opportunity to create a space to build a community and share support. In September 2020, they created The TIP Sheet: Today’s Informed Principal, a newsletter sent every two weeks to every school principal in San Diego County.
“Principals need to reassure and nurture the culture and learning of the school community, but we also carry the weight of learning loss, the impact of systemic oppression, and the pain of communities in crisis. Often, our work as school leaders can feel lonely and isolating,” that first newsletter introduction stated.
In October, for National School Principals Month, the DSI team rolled out a new section, the principal spotlight, where principals shared their challenges, learning, inspiration, and more. The section became a regular feature with dozens of leaders sharing their unique experiences.
“The collective strength, wisdom, and expertise of school leaders are among our greatest assets in serving our students and our school communities,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. “This newsletter is one of the ways our teams worked to help build capacity and connection through shared ideas, resources, and collaboration.”
Below are some of the words of wisdom from the resilient and thoughtful principals highlighted in The TIP Sheet. View the last newsletter of the school year and sign up to receive The TIP Sheet or any other subject matter newsletter from SDCOE.
“The values I hold true in tough situations are courage, vision, authenticity, compassion, and trust.” — Stephanie Brown, Lincoln High School, San Diego Unified School District
“Always start by caring for the person in front of me regardless of the situation; consider every challenge from multiple perspectives; deliberately look for the "holes" in every solution and try to address them before taking action; and regularly consult with people I respect and trust.” — Eric Frandsen, Surfside Educational Academy, Oceanside Unified School District
“You cannot do this work in isolation, especially now during our current situation.” — Dr. Angela Rosendale, Veterans Elementary School, Chula Vista Elementary School District
“Being honest and real about our current conditions is thoroughly appreciated.” — Shawntanet Jara, Solana Highlands Elementary School, Solana Beach School District
“We have all learned that you can plan the best distance learning lesson (or professional development), but if you have not intentionally designed for the ambiguity (and trauma) associated with the pandemic, things will not go well. We have become better at designing for flexibility and changing conditions by listening to the social-emotional needs of our students and staff.” — Martin Casas, San Pasqual High School in Escondido Union High School District
“Always assume positive intent. In any given moment, I like to believe that everyone is doing the very best they can.” — Samantha Bartrom, Coastal Academy High School, The Classical Academies