Each year there is an overarching theme that is guided by our superintendent and trickles down into the administration. The different parts of this specific plan fall into four major themes: leadership, communication, curriculum, and student life. Some of the features of WTHS that are being implemented this year were prompted years before. When we look into new opportunities now, these are the ones that will most likely come about in two years. The administration is always looking for ways to improve and enhance opportunities for students!
Let’s Take On the Challenge of the New Year
Mr. Jones is the Assistant Principal for instructional services and Dr. Kirk is the Associate Principal for student services. Mr. Parrott happens to oversee both of these fields. Every academic year, there is a word that the administration puts forward. This year’s word is “challenge”. There is always a desire to take on innovation and be supportive while incorporating creative and ingenious strategies in the classroom. In turn, this word represents how the staff must challenge themselves to step out of their comfort zone in order to generate such change. Interacting with different people, creating new teams, and incorporating new perspectives into the work environment is an effective way to take risks. This in itself can be a challenge, and that is why it takes the collective interaction of instructional coaches and administration to lead activities and facilitate conversations as to how we as a community can challenge ourselves to create new things and accommodate to the changing education system. It is always important to utilize different practices and create more and more effective practices to enrich the learning environment.
Sometimes it can seem as though we are stuck in the 1970s. When trained as educators, Mr. Parrott emphasizes that teachers were taught to be independent and create lesson plans pertaining to personal comfort. However, today there is more of an incorporation of teamwork which allows for education to constantly grow and develop. The mind of collaboration allows for the best ideas to be put forward. Talking about empathy and working with people from different backgrounds and lifestyles is crucial. Having conversations about the relationship between being open to interaction and developing a stronger mindset is what is required in order to succeed past high school. Although each teacher has their individual strengths and preferences, it is important to come from a point of understanding and be receptive to new ideas which are different from our own. The diverse model that we seek to uphold in school also plays into all strands of society.
As a principal, it is important to facilitate the concept of change and throw everyone into it. Mr. Parrott highlights that the administration works within a larger community of over 4000 students from all different maturity levels and a staff of around 250-300 members with different training and levels of experience. This means that certain habits have to be broken, and relearning and improving should be readily accepted. It is important to get everyone on board with this notion in order to facilitate change. This is when the true element of taking on a challenge is required.
New With the Curriculum
Some of the new additions to the curriculum include dual credit opportunities, such as Honors Earth Science. These classes involve a partnership with CLC in which students are given the opportunity to complete college-level work while still in high school. Here at Warren, there is a lot of push for AP classes, but there is such a diverse array of universities and colleges from which students attend that it is not guaranteed that an AP score will transfer and give credit to a student. However, dual credit classes have been introduced as a new model from which students can earn college credit through classes taken during their high school career. This overlooks the expenses that come with AP exams and guarantees college credits which transfer from the College of Lake County. It is now in the works for a new English class which will allow for a Dual English Credit that will be offered next year to any Junior student who has a 3.1 GPA or above or a 470 on the PSAT Reading and Language section will qualify for the class. Potentially, that will be over 300 students who will be able to get college credit. Students will be able to receive around 3 credits, and it is a guaranteed transfer to the 28 schools that are connected through CLC. The class will be mostly composition skills that will be needed for writing and composition in any college major.
New With the Safety of WTHS
Mr. Parrott must ensure that, as a unit, we are shifting in the right direction. It is important to question why something is being done and consistently seek to improve and grow. For instance, there was a general conversation being had about student safety in the morning. Hence, it was important to talk through the transition of allowing only certain doors to be accessible before 7:20 am. However, students have been trained since the 1st Semester of 2018 that the B1 doors will be accessible. Therefore, it is crucial to ease communication with students as to why these changes are being implemented and what is expected from them.
Around a year ago, a safety audit came and made an official inspection of the features of safety at WTHS as well as offered recommendations on ways to improve school safety. Now the administration has worked to enhance numerous technology features. For instance, for the band room, weight room, black box theatre, and such, there is a “Panic Button” which will send an automatic notification to those areas automatically in case of an unknown emergency. In order to guarantee a safe environment, it is critical to consider every single possible situation. In a perfect world, it would easy to make a simple announcement and supervise every student in the building, but that is not always the case. The “what ifs” should always be brought to the surface. What if Mr. Parrott is out in the hallway handling the emergency? What if an announcement cannot be made in time? In this case, there is a draft email that automatically notifies the staff that there is an emergency. Building on layers such as these to ensure maximum security is what prepares the school for any postulated sequence of events.
The Many Tasks of a Principal
A Principal is an interesting job nowadays because there is essentially a responsibility that is shared in everything. Until you live the job, it is very different from simply studying for it. The experience goes a long way. A principal is responsible for hiring all the personnel in the building and evaluating the staff. He also must have constant conversations about the curriculum and monitor the level of enrollment. He must monitor the aspects of finances and budgeting as well as oversee any improvements being made to the facility. Major events in the school such as the “WTHS” annual picture and honoring student successes are also taken care of by Mr. Parrott. Depending on the structure of the school, there is nothing that a principal doesn’t have his hands in.
On the other hand, there must be a recognition of the fact that one person cannot do everything. As a team, there is a sense of dependence on one another. In this case, our team consists of all the administration: the Associate Principal, the Assistant Principal, the Deans of the students, the Counselors, the Special Education Supervisor, the Teaching staff, etc. It is important to let others lead and ease the responsibilities.
As a principal, it is paramount to listen and keep your eyes open. Although every situation cannot be fixed, it is important to be an active observer, a powerful leader, and a strong-spirited representative for the school. Training doesn’t always prepare you for those moments when you need to give a speech in front of thousands of people. Yet, as work progresses, there is always the opportunity to advance and discover what matches one’s aspirations and goals in life. Mr. Parrott knew he wanted to be a principal from the roots of simply refusing to stand back and observe; there was an unvarying desire to ask “how” and “why” and a courage to step forward and absorb.
The ‘A’ Team
The consistent message from which WTHS is founded upon is boiled down into five things: Attendance, A Great Attitude, A Focus on Academics, Open Acceptance of Others, and Engagement in Activities. Attending means being engaged. A recluse does not succeed; one must put their step forward and be involved in his or her education. A positive attitude is pivotal to the foundation of a working environment. Even a simple smile and the golden rule with go a long way. Focusing on academics and understanding the importance of education seeps into one’s future. Striving for excellence in school will reflect on how a student will one day function in the workforce. It is important to engage in activities. You do not need to be the star of the soccer team or president of every club. However, some of the most important lessons in life can be learned outside of the classroom. Engaging in outside activities and taking part in hobbies is what solidifies our diversity. We must enrich our talents and skills beyond the environment of a school. Finally, the crux of our education system is acceptance and the ability to be open and compassionate to others. Diversity is a characteristic of our school which should be readily embraced. The ability to understand and share emotions with the students around us is true power. If we follow these five things, we will have the capability to advance and soar beyond.
Parrott, Rob. Interview. 29 Aug. 2019
Paasch, Kim. Interview. 10 Sept. 2019