1. Everyone does not sit around and sing “Amazing Grace”.
I thought it would be different working in a Christian school. I thought there would be less problems. But, like my then 12 year old told me, “If we really believe what we say we believe, that everyone has a sin nature, why do you expect there NOT to be problems?” The amazing part about being in a Christian school was that we could deal with it differently. We sought to be a vessel to grow kids’ hearts and when kids’ hearts and character are growing, they grow in every area of their life.
2. Pride is the basis for many decisions gone wrong.
I have personally found that where there is conflict, there is pride. Too much pride or too little pride tends to make decisions based on the wrong thing. I have made knee jerk decisions that were wrong and based on pride. I am aware of this and continue to seek to grow in this area. As I grow wiser and seek to understand people, I see that pride plays a major role in most conflicts. People that come to me and ask advice, I usually check where their pride and motives are at the time. When I mess up, it is usually because my pride is not in check.
3. There are 5 sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is what happened.
Everyone wants to know what happens behind closed doors. Most times, principals are acting like Judge Judy. Everyone has a different interpretation to what happens, teachers, students, and parents. The goal is to get to the heart of the matter and grow people. No matter what decision you make, people will not agree and continue to tell you that you are wrong. As a school leader, you have to be prudent and objective. I tried to operate on two premises: Is it best for kids? Does it honor God?
4. You will never be “Christian Enough” for anyone… but, God will still use you.
The names I have been called behind closed doors and in public have been eye opening. I have been cursed out by people, called “Satan’s Minion” and the “Devil’s Spawn”. My morals and values have been questioned. I have learned to “rise above the good opinions of others”…a saying my mentor says to me regularly. Everyone is human. In this day and age that everyone has a venue to gossip on social media, hide behind their computers, and tend to be “couch quarterbacks” and give advice on areas that they know nothing about…it is really fun to be a leader, let alone a Christian leader.(insert SARCASM) Nobody can make mistakes. We have forgotten what grace feels like. When we remember what it feels like, we have a tendency to give it more. Have you ever deserved a punishment so severe and somebody looked at you and said, “Don’t worry. Your debt has been paid.” I have had that happen to me several times and that is grace. We need to give more grace. I need to give more grace.
5. Politics Are Everywhere
Everyone has an angenda (which usually goes back to pride). It happens in the Christian world and secular world. I am not a great player at this because I have a tendency to speak my mind and my passion for kids gets the best of me. I struggle with people that have not been in the classroom trying to tell an educator how it should be done. I have tried to be a spectator of this kind of thing. But, it does exist…everywhere. Be aware.
6. Is your child learning?
Not, is your child getting straight A’s. Not, is your child passing standardized tests? Is your child learning to be a good reader, a good writer, a good mathematician, a good thinker, and a good problem solver? Do they enjoy learning? Are their teachers learning and excited about teaching? Are they given time to think, explore, wonder, and solve problems? If not, demand it. The one thing that we were able to do in private school was use what we knew worked, try new things, and we did not have to be a slave to data. We found that when we concentrated on the above skills, they did well naturally on the standardized tests that we gave once a year. And we also realized that the score was only part of a child. Growing children takes time. Our goal was always to show one year of growth. That is hard to measure in data when you are also growing more skills that can be measured on a test. We will never sit under the trees that we plant.
7. Relationship trumps everything.
The teacher/student relationship is at the heart of education. Relationships take time to build. Relationships build trust and respect. Our kids need mentors that care and listen. Our students need mentors that celebrate growth and guide them in pivotal developmental stages. Relationships are the springboard for everything we do in education. Relationships are not perfect, but with grace and humility can grow to be a life changing for the teacher and student.
Being a Christian school principal was the hardest job I ever had besides being a mom. We had over 80+ denominations represented in our school. Because it is a Christian school, people expect perfection. We did not have a huge budget. We DID have AMAZING teachers and a community that grew students. I was blessed to work with students from the age of 3 that sometimes would take naps in my office, to having young middle school girls in my office learning to “problem solve” their girl issues, to seeing students walk across the stage at graduation. I was honored to have held that life changing position. Although I may have not been “Christian Enough”, God has a way of growing you at the right time for the right things. The lessons I learned grew me into a better person mentally, spiritually, and professionally. I see the world differently and do things differently now, and that is a good thing.