A Message from our President:
Here we are! All the forces of nature that have been brewing over the past few years are converging upon us like the perfect storm. This is the year it happens for real in every district and every school in Georgia. All the mandates for high stakes accountability and performance expectations are being added to the numerous plates that principals continue to balance and keep spinning every day. You know all the acronyms. CCGPS and CCRPI welcome The Platform, TKES, LKES, SLO’s, Milestones, and SGP’s. Larry Lezotte said that “public schools are being asked to do more with less for an increasingly more needy clientele.” In Georgia, and across the nation, we face the challenge of educating an increasingly diverse population of children coming to us. Many of our students live in poverty, have distinctly different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and perhaps most importantly, a wide spectrum of pre-school nurturing experiences. I recently read that for the first time in our nation’s history the enrollment of minority children in our public schools exceeds that of the traditional majority. At the same time, educators are tasked with ensuring that each child attain increasingly rigorous levels of academic achievement.
I am reminded of a story Jamie Volmer tells in his book, ”Schools Can’t Do It Alone.” Jamie entered the public education arena through the business world door. As a successful manufacturing executive, Jamie held the silver bullet for making public schools an efficient operation. Run schools like a business organization. In front of a large gathering of educators, he threw out the concepts of Total Quality Management, Zero Defects, and big business as the way to drive efficiency and productivity in schools. Jamie proudly shared with his audience the secret of his success as a manufacturer of “the best ice cream in America.” Of course, the secret lay in accepting nothing less than quality Grade A ingredients for all of his products. A brave teacher in the audience stood and asked the question, “When you stand at the receiving dock and view a shipment of blueberries arriving and they do not meet your triple A standards, what do you do?” “Send them back,” he replied. The teacher’s response changed his traditional views on public education in an instant. She proudly responded that “schools can’t send their blueberries back and that is why it’s not a business, it’s a school.” Jamie is now one of the nation’s leaders in advocating for public school education. Your school takes each blueberry the supplier sends through the school doors. Georgia’s principals lead the best ice cream manufacturing operation in America. You use all the ingredients, no matter what race, religion, economic background or level of experience.
As school leaders, many times we stand alone in embracing the constancy of change that has become the norm in public schools. It is essential that The Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals continues to build the capacity of elementary school leaders to embrace change and lead the way in transforming schools to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners. Albert Einstein said that “What a person does on his own, without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of others is, even in the best of cases rather paltry and monotonous.” Together, as a team of elementary principals, we forge an incredible alliance of committed, caring, and visionary leaders. The opportunities for networking and professional learning offered through GAESP provides us with an opportunity to join with other leaders working every day to ensure that children in our great state are afforded the opportunity to be the best they can be.
We can all take a few lessons learned by Noah and his experience with the great Ark. The Ark was built to weather the perfect storm. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark. Keep yourself fit. When you are 600 years old you may be asked to do something very big. Don’t listen to the critics, do what’s right and what needs to be done. When weathering a storm, two heads are always better than one. If you can’t fight or flee, float. It is always better to have those who share a common purpose on the boat with you. Take care of your animals as if they are the last ones on earth. When the voyage is long and unpleasant stuff gets really deep, it’s nice to have helping hands manning the shovels. Don’t forget that we are all in the same boat. Remember, that the Ark was built by amateurs and Titanic was built by experts. When you have to start over, have friends by your side. Don’t put off an opportunity and miss the boat. No matter how bad the storm is, there is always a rainbow on the other side.
I can think of no better rationale for becoming an active member of the GAESP team. Join us on the voyage and take advantage of all that your professional association has to offer through networking and professional learning opportunities. We are all on the same ship and together we make an incredible team that will weather the storm and continue to nurture and grow the best blueberry crop anywhere. Elementary principals are the dream builders of Georgia’s future.
Dr. Rick Little
Georgia Achieves Excellence through Successful Principals
GAESP’s mission is to equip leaders with research based practices that advance student learning. Our organization will provide opportunities for networking, professional learning, and legislative advocacy.
- All children can and will learn.
- Elementary Schools provide the foundation for future education.
- The principal is the instructional leader.
- High expectations are essential.
- Education is a collaborative effort involving schools, families, and community.
- Communication is the key to success