Principals Set the Tone

As my son and I enter week two of the school year, I have been reflecting on his last three years at his elementary school. When my son began kindergarten, we met Principal Libby, who had been the principal at the school for over 12 years. From my perspective, Mr. Libby had his school culture established. Everything seemed to run at his pace with his agenda, I am assuming this is how schools typically run. There were a few assemblies throughout the year where parents were invited, parents were sent home the usual notices, and if there was a question or issue, the protocol was to contact your child’s teacher before or after school. All seemed pretty standard to me, nothing out of the ordinary. What I can say is that I didn’t feel fully connected to the school, even though I knew my son’s teachers and met Mr. Libby on a few occasions.

Mr. Libby retired at the end of the 2017 school year, along with several other teachers. I remember getting a letter with names of teachers who would be retiring, and my son was ecstatic when I read out the names, his exact words were, “those teachers are mean and grouchy all the time.” He didn’t feel that way about Mr. Libby, but he stated most of the teachers on that list didn’t seem happy. This was the perspective of a six year old at the time.

We met our new Principal, Dr. Guerra, at the beginning of 2018 school year. I kept an open mind. She seemed cheerful and happy to be there. Early in the school year she hosted coffee with the principal; I took an interest in what she would be sharing and I attended. She made announcements for the current quarter and introduced technology right away, on several occasions, parents were invited to download an app called Class Dojo. It’s an app all teachers use to communicate with parents, the principal and office staff also posts announcements, important date reminders, and local community activities. This new communication tool opened the door for me to feel a bit more engaged with the school.

Through the middle of the school year I got a Instagram invite from the school’s PTA. At first I felt a bit skeptical, I was unsure if I wanted the PTA knowing my social media business, but as I scanned my pictures, most of them are of my kiddos; it looks like their fan club for the most part. I saw nothing wrong with them following me, afterall I was seeking community from the school. I accepted the follow request and followed back. 

By the end Dr. Guerra’s school year, I definitely felt a shift in the school culture. Teacher appreciation week was full of thoughtful gestures, it was a big stride from the previous years. There were a few new fundraisers such as a Jog-A-Thon, and my son went on a couple of field trips for the first time. 

All of my Instagram posts of my son, resulted in being invited to be part of the PTA Board. I had been wanting to feel a sense of community and got more than I anticipated! 

I now realize this all happened due to the empowerment and support the PTA was receiving from Dr. Guerra; they were allowed to create a Instagram for the school and they found me. I hope to be an asset to the board and plan to do my best in my new role.  

I will tell you about my PTA journey in another blog. What I can tell you now, is to support your school’s PTA; they DO A LOT for the students and teachers! I encourage you to learn more about how much your membership dues do for your school, in addition you get discounts at Legoland, Aquarium of the Pacific, and many other places.

I know Dr. Guerra had big shoes to fill, not necessarily because someone had done a better job but because a culture had been established. Change can be difficult, but when our children and families benefit from the changes implemented, everyone should be on board. It doesn’t matter if a principal has been there for one year or ten. If parents come together and ask for innovation and change, the school leaders should support it.

I encourage you to get connected with your childrens’ school, go beyond back to school night, ask if they host coffee with the principal, ask about communication technology, ask if your school staff and PTA need volunteers. I guarantee you they will need you!

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Cindy Borbon

Cindy Borbon

Cindy Borbon is a Co-founder, Editorial Manager of LaComadre.org. and is also a licensed Financial Advisor. Cindy is a single mother of two children; her eldest attends the University of Merced and youngest attends elementary school. Cindy has 15 year experience in Auto Finance industry. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Business Business Administration.

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