Embracing an Adventure: A Reflection from a First-Time Administrator

When I decided I wanted to become an assistant principal, I knew it would be a challenging position.  I had no idea what I was in for!  It has been the most amazing experience. I am grateful for this opportunity and wanted to share five things that I have learned on my journey so far.

1. Don’t treat others the way YOU want to be treated.  Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.

I have received many words of wisdom from my principal, family, friends and colleagues.  My sister shared this piece of advice with me as it pertains to building relationships.  It makes sense because we all enter situations with different needs, wants, ideas and preferences. Therefore, it is important to get to know people as individuals.  One of my favorite books, Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff, embeds the theme of building relationships throughout each of its chapters. It is a great resource and I intend to use many of the jewels provided by authors Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.

Take time to let people know you and, in turn, be passionately and compassionately interested in them.
Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf









2. When your spouse and children come knocking on your office window, it’s time to wrap it up for the evening.

I was working in my office one evening this summer, when these three inquisitive faces came knocking on my window.  Although they scared the life out of me, I realized at that moment that I had almost went an entire day and evening without connecting with my husband and kids.  I truly enjoy my work, so I have to remember to keep a balance.  My family understands that this is a learning year for me and thoroughly support my passions, ambitions and drive. We are committed to fulfilling our career and family goals as a unit without sacrificing our relationships.

Taking time from the daily grind is essential.

 3. Rely on the experts, but know your stuff.

I am tasked with overseeing many structures, processes and programs, but I do not have to do this work alone.  In fact, I could not do this work alone. I rely daily on specialists and points of contact to facilitate many facets of the school program.  Learning alongside my faculty and staff is one way I strive to stay in the know.

I have enjoyed learning alongside my faculty and staff.

4. Learn to be responsive not reactive.

I am learning that it is better to take a pause before committing to something I can not deliver. If I am unclear about something, I ask questions (point blank).

5. Stay connected.

Never underestimate the power of thought partners and the mentor/mentee relationship.  Tapping into the knowledge and experience of others is key for any new administrator. I am so grateful for the amount of support and guidance I have received from other administrators who have more experience.  In addition, I am connected with other brand new administrators. We proactively share ideas and resources so that in many cases we don’t have to reinvent the wheel…..and because I have good days…and sometimes even better days (wink wink), talking over issues and scenarios with others is invaluable.

Connecting with others on my leadership journey.

As an assistant principal, I have an opportunity to bring my own unique dose of joy to an educational setting. I am excited and invested. Someone once told me to find a reason to jump out of bed each morning. Well, I found a little over 400.


Taking the entire fifth grade class to the NAS Oceana Air Show was an amazing experience.

The adventure continues,

Dr. Joy

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One Thought to “Embracing an Adventure: A Reflection from a First-Time Administrator”

  1. Carol Reinagel

    So sad I didn’t get a chance to see you Friday. I know you are “rocking” the AP thing.

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