Hallway duty and transcendental meditation
School vice principal: 'Give me a hug'
I'm employed as a vice principal by the Prince George's County, Maryland, public schools. The school system's main offices are in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. My school, Kingsford Elementary, is located in Mitchellville.
Years in position
I've worked for the school system for 26 years. I have been a vice principal for four years. Prior to that, I taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades. I've also worked as a coordinator in the Extended Day Magnet Program and the Communication and Academic Studies Magnet Program.
I'm 47. And I'm a Leo!
I spent my elementary and high school years in a small town in upstate New York. I graduated with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland and a master of arts degree from George Washington University in Washington.
How did you get your current job?
I worked as a classroom teacher for 11 years, was promoted to the magnet coordinator's position and applied for, interviewed and received the vice principal position.
How many hours do you work per week?
Our school employees are on duty from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. I usually arrive about 6:30 a.m. and I try to leave between 4:30 and 5 p.m. but depending on the day it may be much later than that. I usually work between 50 and 60 hours per week.
What's the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?
My first responsibility in the morning is to make sure that all classes are covered. I open rooms for any substitute teachers I've secured for teachers who aren't in school on a particular day. I also need to make sure that the absent teachers have left adequate plans for their subs.
I then handle any parent or teacher concerns until the students begin to arrive at 7:40. At that time, I'm on hallway duty to greet students as they enter the building. From there I go to breakfast duty to monitor students who are eating breakfast in school.
What time do you have lunch? What do you usually eat?
I try to eat lunch sometime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. but that varies greatly depending on how the day is going. Most of the time I eat a school lunch (they're not as bad as everyone thinks). Sometimes my lunch consists of eating a sandwich while I'm walking down the school hallway. What time do things get tense? What makes it that way?
Things seem to be the most tense first thing in the morning and right before students leave. If there are parent or student concerns, they usually end up in my office first thing in the a.m. Sometimes the line of people waiting to talk to someone can get very long.
At bus call in the p.m., I have to make sure that any loose ends are tied up from the day. I want to make sure that I've dealt with any concerns before the students leave the building. With more than 1,000 students, that sometimes gets to be a very tense time.
If you're having a good day at work, what is it that makes it good?
Spending time working with students and teachers in classrooms and on special projects. Many times my job requires me to react to incidents in the school. I like it better when I'm able to be proactive and work with students and teachers.
How much work, if any, do you take home?
It depends on the day. I usually try to reserve my home time for my own two children. If it's around the beginning or the end of a marking period, I often work on schedules and reviewing report cards at home. I do spend a great deal of time at home calling substitute teachers to cover for staff members who won't be in school the next day.
What does your work contribute to society?
As our school motto says "We prepare students for success in life." Can it get any better than that?
Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?
I do. I love what I do (most days) and can't see myself doing anything else.
If you could have two more careers, what would they be?
I've always been fascinated by the law and even took a couple of law school courses. I'd like to try the law as another career. Teaching at the university level also appeals to me.
What's an unforgivable trait in a colleague?
Not putting the best interests of the students first. We all have to keep in mind why we're here.
What do you do to relieve stress?
I like all sports so I try to get involved. I also practice TM (transcendental meditation) and have since I was an undergraduate. Most people don't know that about me. I guess they will now!
What have you been reading lately?
Just finished "The Brethren" by John Grisham (Doubleday, 2000). I'm currently reading "Ghost Soldiers" by Hampton Sides (Doubleday, May). It's the story of the rescue mission for survivors of the Bataan Death March in World War II.
When you have one of those days on which you don't think you can face the job again, what is it that gets you out the door in the morning and off to work?
One student giving me a high-five as I leave, or rushing up to me to give me a hug and show me their success that day.
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Kingsford Elementary School
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