- Middle School
Heading to school on the last Tuesday in January, Grade 7 student, Nam, wore a pair of nicely pressed tan shorts and a dark blue polo shirt, not his ordinary school uniform. Because this was no ordinary day, this was the day that Nam would be middle school principal!
It all started last year during “Book Bingo.” Book Bingo is a competition in the middle school library, where students aim to get “bingo,” i.e., five in a row, on a bingo card comprised of various categories of books.
Some students, like Nam, set a goal to fill up all 24 squares, which would mean reading one book from each of the “Book Bingo” categories. Reaching that goal is called “Book Bingo Blackout.” As one of the students who achieved “Book Bingo Blackout,” Nam’s name was entered and selected in the drawing for the grand prize - becoming MS principal for a day!
And not only would Nam be principal for a day, but he would be trading places with Principal Burger, who would follow Nam’s schedule, getting an insightful opportunity to live the life of a student for a day.
Little did Nam know, that like any principal, he had a busy day ahead of him. Conferring with Dean of Students Roxanne Amor-Ross, they began the day by recording a video announcement for students. At the same time, new “student” Molly Burger was busy in her social studies class learning about the Middle Ages and looking forward to playing the drums in music class!
Principal Nam says that at first, his day didn’t seem too full. But as the day progressed, Nam learned just how busy a principal is.
“The most surprising thing about working as a principal is the [lack] of free time the principal gets. From the beginning, when I saw the calendar reminders, I thought that was it - that was all you had to do. But when I started to work, I saw that I really only had about 1 hour for relaxation or downtime,” Nam reflects.
And no wonder Principal Nam felt busy. From conducting a student interview in the admissions office and discussing the building expansion with the Head of School, Dr. Catriona Moran, to reviewing assessment policies with Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning, David Chadwell, and learning about student tardiness and absences from Ms. Thao, the middle school office assistant, Nam covered a lot of ground.
A Meaningful Experience
Principal Nam says he learned a lot during the day and that the experience was very meaningful to him. He particularly enjoyed “...having so much power and [that I] could decide almost anything since I'm the principal.” Principal Nam ensured his power was used for good, arranging for the entire middle school student body to have popcorn during their advisory time!
As Nam learned, being a principal sometimes involves many meetings and coordinating across offices and divisions, and having such a large campus can add additional challenges.
“The least favorite thing about being the principal is that I have to have meetings that are really far away. I had to go back and forth from the Admin Office about five times that day, and that’s really time-consuming, so you kind of have to plan ahead of time, so you are not late.”
Words of Wisdom from Principal Nam
In parting, Principal Nam shares some words of wisdom for anyone considering a career as a principal:
“I would advise them to always write down their schedule, so their time management is correct, and you make sure you don't come late or forget any meetings. If I didn't write down the schedule, I would be really off time.”
Thank you for your service, Principal Nam, and for sharing your insights with our community!