Beginning this year, the Edublog Awards includes a category for the “Best School Administrator Blog.” I think it is a great addition. Speaking from personal experience as an administrator, few things were as worth the time as blogging in terms of communication and being able to influence not only the direction of your own school, but to share with readers whom you may never meet. My nominee is a shining example of how a principal in a small town can use a blog to make a huge difference both to those in the community and to a world-wide readership.
Just shy of three years ago, Pattie Thomas became a brand new principal in the middle of the year at Raymond L. Young Elementary School. This K-6 school serves just over 300 students from Talladega, Alabama. I wrote this post to describe the impressions of what I saw in those first days.
Over the last three years, the school has improved in a every way imaginable. Not only are test scores and attendance up, but so is the feeling among the staff and the community that “a good place to learn and grow” is not just a motto, but reflects the child-centered approach at the heart of every decision made.
Through it all, Mrs. Thomas has used a blog to share the triumphs, the needs, and feeling of community at Raymond L. Young. Upon receiving her appointment as principal, she realized tardies, checkouts, and absences due to frivolous reasons were far too frequent. It was on the blog that she introduced the “Top Dog Club.” As the prestige of being a “Top Dog” caught steam and attendance improved, the blog was right there to celebrate that success.
Following a newspaper article where Mrs. Thomas was quoted on the subject of bullying, it was the blog that allowed a concerned parent to write a lengthy, yet thoughtful comment. It was on this blog that Mrs. Thomas was able to respond with an equally thoughtful response that communicated not just to one parent, but to anyone anywhere in the world who chose to tune in, the philosophy and warmth that permeates the school. You can read that exchange here.
Elementary schools are places where memories are made, and this blog captures every one of them, whether it be a celebration of the holiday season, the sights and sounds of “Forever Young” Field Day, or the words of a student serving as a guest blogger.
Maintaining an 80-year-old building is no easy task, and with funding being tight, the school relies on outside supporters. Whether the project is the restoration of an auditorium, the replacement of a “mud pit” with fresh sod, or providing laptop computers for students, this blog has used the power of technology to open the doors of this elementary school to friends both near and far.
Take a moment to meet Pattie Thomas through her Principal’s Message. Most of all, enjoy the blog, and see why they call Raymond L. Young Elementary School “a good place to learn and grow.”