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Paying Gratitude When It Is Due

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday and begins a time of year where I continually stop and reflect about all of the things in my life for which I am grateful. As an elementary school principal of two buildings (@EpworthElem) and (@FESBobcats), I have the opportunity to work with a variety of people who provide a tremendous deal of support and make my job very rewarding. Within this post I will list some of the wonderful aspects of the elementary principalship at Epworth and Farley Elementary Schools for which I am grateful. Community Partnerships I am so fortunate to be part of a community where education is valued, celebrated, and where stakeholders go out of their way to support our schools. A prime example of this support became very clear a couple of weeks ago when Western Dubuque High School participated in the Celebrate My Drive competition powered by State Farm Insurance. This competition asked students and community members to take a daily pledge toward safe driving by logging onto a site for a two week period with the ultimate goal of increasing awareness of road safety. To make a long story short, the participating schools across the country ranked in the top 5 for number of safe driving commitments at the end of the competition would receive a check for $100,000 from State Farm and the Celebrate My Drive campaign. Western Dubuque High School has roughly 830 students and was placed into the large schools category (750 students or more) of this competition, basically making us one of the smallest schools to enter. The support from our community was absolutely unbelievable as we were able to go toe-to-toe with a high school in Connecticut and others across the country with enrollments of more than 3,000 students. Western Dubuque was not awarded the top prize which was a $100,000 check and personalized concert by Kelly Clarkson, but we were able to finish in the top 5 and given this enormous sum of money which will be dedicated to our new state-of-the-art auditorium! The fact that we were able to do this going against schools more than three times our size speaks volumes about our community and the relationships that we have established. The partnership between school and communities cannot be overlooked; it is so critical for forward movement.

Outstanding Educators Who Go Above and Beyond Over the past two weeks I have been completing a number of teacher observations and classroom walkthroughs which have led to excellent conversations. In a post-observation conference with one of our superstar teachers, I asked, "How do you continue to get it done year after year with every single kid." Her response was immediate, "Dan, I have a passion to make a difference with each student who comes into my classroom. It is my responsibility to love them, teach them, and take them to where they would not go on their own. Simply put, I do whatever it takes." She absolutely hit this one on the head and defined what teaching is all about. I am so incredibly blessed to work with teachers like this superstar, as we have many more with this mindset @EpworthElem and @FESBobcats.

Engaged Students and Supportive Parents One of the great things about being an elementary principal is having the chance to see students excited as they walk through our doors each morning and depart in the afternoon. I am grateful that our students have a passion for learning and are engaged in daily lessons/learning opportunities. We have great kids at our schools which makes our work extremely enjoyable. Our families and parents play a huge role in the success of our schools. They believe in what we are trying to accomplish and do all that they can to support us in the process. Family engagement is at an all-time high @EpworthElem and @FESBobcats, and we are extremely grateful for all of the support.

I cannot stress enough how fortunate I am to serve as a elementary school principal in public education. We are presented with many daily challenges, but also with many rewards that indicate we are making differences in the lives of young people. It's a great time to be in education, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

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