Tag: @ilprincipals.org

Talking Leadership

If you type the word leadership into a Google search, you will find 13,570,000,000 results. So my conclusion from this activity is, everyone is “talking” leadership!

What I would like to offer is not only “ talking” leadership but also answering all of the why, how, what, when, and action steps to take. Leaders do not have time to search through all of this information to find the answers they seek. We needed information yesterday to deal with what is happening now.

Last week I was reminded of the place I always felt safe, comfortable to ask questions, and trusted all of the individuals in the organization no matter their position. The Illinois Principal Association became part of my life as I began my career in administration. My professional family!

Dr.Jason Leahy, Executive Director of IPA

I encourage all leaders to review their website and the offerings they have to those they serve. Each year it grows more robust because of the dedication of the staff who keep their vision, purpose, and mission at the core of what they do daily. I hope that every leader across our nation can connect to an organization like this during their leadership. One additional hope is to have a mentor and a coach.

Dr. Fred Singleton was my first Field Director and mentor at IPA. I had not seen him in years, but it was not long until we made eye contact. He had not changed one bit. He still made his rounds around the room, welcoming everyone and caring for their needs. I had asked a couple of people to come to sit at our table. We, of course, talked about leadership. Fred asked one of the leaders a question I had him ask me many years ago. “How do you know people are following you as a leader?” It was a great question 20 years ago and still today. He still knows what he is doing to push us as leaders. Don Hansen was my other Field Director and helped so much as I began coaching other leaders in the state. Don helped during some of my transitions and was always so encouraging. Don Dillion was another Field Director assigned to other areas, but always a caring man asking how I was doing. You see, these men, Fred and the Don’s, took a leader who fell all the way down and helped bring her back.

In 2010, a semi-truck hit our family vehicle, leaving all who saw the accident saying no one survived. Praise God, all did, leaving me with the most significant damages. I have a traumatic brain injury along with some other issues. They pushed, encouraged, and told me I could when I said I could not. They and the IPA are why I am where I am today. I am blessed, and so are all of those they serve.

It is exciting to see the new leaders, the determination, passion, and energy. The collaboration I saw in the rooms I was in charge of and watching the networking, I knew the growth would remain in IPA.

Dr. Marcus J Belin, President IPA
Hangs in the a hallway where everyone can see it daily! Great job Dr. Belin

The message is clear for leaders You Matter. However, it does not stop with you. It has to start with you! You have to understand the importance of your role, how to take care of yourself to serve others, and to spread this message to everyone. It is in the authenticity of our messaging, actions, and modeling that counts.

Many blessings to all leaders!

It takes Wisdom, Wit and Essential Skills to Lead

Leaders are essential to organizations now more than at any other time. The skills needed for leaders to help staff and students grow include: Organizing Cultivating Motivating Empowerment Encouragement Vision Commitment Dedication Balance Trust Collaborative Influence Inspiration Courage There are several more you could add … Continue reading It takes Wisdom, Wit and Essential Skills to Lead

You Matter

If you have never heard, you matter before, let me tell you if you listened to the President of Illinois Principal Association, Dr. Marcus J. Berlin, tell you how you do, you would know you do! This young leader from Huntley High School is influential and powerful in his ability to speak.

As Dr. Belin addressed the room full of school leaders, he wanted to inspire them to know what they do matters. He shared he wanted every child to know that they mattered as well. A picture appeared on the big screen from his school of encouraging phrases and words, including a large print of; You Matter! This sign hangs in a hall where everyone passes. “I wanted everyone to see these words every day!”

The energy, passion, and authenticity in his message brought the “why” to all of us. The “why” we all do what we do each day for those we serve and why it matters! The why we matter! Educational leadership matters! When you show up with everything you have to give, those who receive it become all they can be!

It is not easy! No way! Leaders are standing after being pushed as hard as they have ever been pushed before! You matter! So proud of all the leaders who are working so hard each day!


  • Stay true to your values and beliefs
  • Take care of your mind, body, and spirit
  • Always seek to understand, find solutions and take action
  • Make every minute, moment, and Monday matter!
  • With so many spreading hate so quickly, why not say I love you to others with ease.

How can you help others know they matter? Would you please share one thing you have done or did to let someone know they matter? #YouMatter #Bethesolutiondaily

Thank you for being the solution daily IPA! Excellent leaders, you will find at the IPA. I am looking forward to seeing responses to #YouMatter. So important to help others understand the value we see in them! We need more positives!

Solution Weekly

You Matter!

What a privilege I had this past week to help an organization that helped to instill in me the qualities of leadership needed for a successful career. For an organization to grow and to continue to thrive after 50 years is fantastic! The takeaways from the conference are many, but the most important one is, You Matter.

There has been no other time in history where leaders have had to do so many things, so fast, change again, and then change again. Oh wait, we have a few more things for you to do. COVID-19 brought illness, heartache, challenges, and heroes.

Tips and Techniques

Build a classroom for “working learners.”

  • Begin with a blueprint for your workers
  • Provide them with the tools they need
  • Encourage them to look over the blueprints, ask “why” questions to get to the “what” and “ how” of the process
  • Workers need to take their work personally and need to have power in influencing the environment and control of their future.
  • Completing the work on one project can be applied to other projects. Helping workers understand and to see how their learned skills can transfer.
  • Collaboration and teaching each other build skills to strengthen understanding and deepen learning.
  • Looking for solutions, investigating, testing, and analyzing provides workers with opportunities to discover how to question rather than solve. Sometimes solving for a correct answer only misses out on additional learning opportunities.
  • An essential part of “building” is constantly checking to assess the effectiveness and performance, giving feedback, reflecting on work, and determining what works and does not.

Wisdom & Wit

While at the Illinois Principal Conference this past week, I had the honor of hearing from two excellent speakers! Gerry Brooks, author of Go See the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches, and Luis Cruz, co-author of Time for Change Essential Skills for Transformational School and District Leaders. If you have not watched any of Gerry Brooks’s videos, please do, and yes, he is that funny in person. Please grab a copy of his book as well. Luis Cruz was funny, but his story and dedication to the audience were touching to me. He personalized his talk with the principals and emphasized, “You Matter.” He gave many examples on how to change the description of your title to include many of the things these fantastic leaders do each day. Please pick up his book, get him to come to your school to speak, and follow him on social media.


Under the direction of Executive Director Dr. Jason Leahy, the Illinois Principals Association provides a wealth of resources. It supports leaders across the state and with others who have joined forces with them. Please feel free to check out their website. They provide space for school leaders to connect and share resources helping to keep collaboration and networking going. In addition, an Ed Leaders Network hosting 130+ courses, opportunities to post questions, share best practices, and engage with others.

The growth of this organization is because of outstanding leadership, clear vision, a definite purpose, and dedication to core values and beliefs. I am blessed to be a member of this Association since 2003 and proud of all the accomplishments.

Staying Motivated

Some days we may find it hard to stay motivated. Life can bring us an opportunity, a challenge, and adventures at times. As you look at the quote from Mother Tersesa and her look at life what can you connect with at this moment in time?

Have you had opportunities in life? Are you amid a chance right now, and you are looking at how to make the most out of it? Do you have a dream? What is keeping you from it?

Did you know that most of the time, it is ourselves that keep us from realizing our dreams and reaching success? Get motivated to take action today!

Will you be my friend? Finding Friends on Friday

“Childhood lies at the very heart of who we are and who we become.” Fred Rogers

Mister Rogers was not afraid to talk about difficult social issues, tackle them head on and make it a priority to support children in the best way he knew how! He talked about divorce, assassination, death, racial issues and talked honestly and openly about subjects adults were often afraid to speak about, but which children often silently wondered and worried about. He utilized his platform to help children, and adults too, know that there are some things no one can understand. “Some things I don’t understand.” However, with honest, open and continued conversations in positive, optimism for solutions are found. We are one nation working together to make a great neighborhood for all.

We are all friends! I want to thank my best friend in kindergarten, Tammy! We enjoyed many years growing up in a confusing time, but never for us! She helped to button my coat when I couldn’t and I can still remember her being crowned queen in high school. Children only see differences when they are taught to see them. I was never taught to see anything but friends.

Although children’s “outsides” may have changed a lot, their inner needs have remained very much the same. Society seems to be pushing children to grow faster, but their developmental tasks have remained constant. ~Fred Rogers

Children could turn on the television and find security in the voice and words from Fred Rogers. He could influence how they felt about themselves and others by the words of encouragement he had. Each time the child tuned in, he consistently shared the message of self-worth, hope, security, stability, and confidence, as he ensured trying is okay even if you fail. You are perfect just being you!

I want to pose this question: What resources do children have to turn to daily for this kind of reinforcement?

Next question: What are ways we can help children have this kind of reinforcement daily?

Finally: Children and adults are spending countless hours online in Zoom meetings/virtual classrooms, no real face-to-face interactions with others, and facing hours of negative news. How can we help address fears, calm emotions, reduce the negative effects?

People need people! We need to have opportunities to talk, engage in fun activities in real-time, and enjoy the company. Isolation from others is difficult. Think about all of the children who went from being gone every day involved in multiple activities to now sitting staring at a computer screen.

Do you know anyone who retired and then was miserable? If you do, then you know it is because they did not plan out how it would be when all of their “work friends” would still be busy in their work-life and they found themselves with nothing to keep themselves focused on or a purpose in life.

Stages in life provide us with the lessons to form our foundation. I focus a great deal on words and actions. Even when we believe no one is listening or watching, they are. I have gained this from my own experience and from the children I have served.

My hope is if you have chosen to read this blog, you will be my friend and provide me with your thoughts on how to create better neighborhoods for all children. How can we stop all of the negatives and replace them with positives? I promise together we can gain solutions!

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