School Administrator Interview
The interviewed person gains 22 years of the educational and administrative experience of working for the United Independent School District of Laredo, Texas. This person has the degrees of Master of Science in Administration, Texas A&M International University, and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Laredo State University. She is an Associate in Arts, Laredo Jr. College, in the certified mid-management, certified 1-8th Bil/ESL and 1-8th English. She has worked as Elementary Prior Assistance Principal at S. Garcia Middle School and later as a Prior Principal at R.C. Centeno and Kennedy-Zapata School. From 2011 to present, this person has been the Principal at Kazen Elementary School. Considering her vast practical experience in both educational and administration domains of elementary education and the insight that she demonstrates on the current issues of curriculum, leadership, a vision for teaching as well as the parental and community involvement with a school, she can be considered an outstanding educational leader. In the course of an interview, an interviewer applied a social-systems’ model framework in order to evaluate different areas of functioning of the Kazen Elementary School.
The Basic Mission of the School
As a principal, this person felt that she was in a good position to influence the culture of the school by creating a comfortable psychological environment for children. In such a way, they could better focus on their studies and strive for a better academic achievement. Thus, the creation of such environment was a focus of the principal’s and teachers’ efforts. This initiative was very much in line with Kazen Elementary School’s mission statement. It states, “The community of Kazen Elementary is committed to delivering an effective TEKS based instruction that provides a positive environment, aligned goals, and a strong collaboration of talents” (Kazen Elementary School, n. d.). TEKS stands for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. It is designed to provide for a local community of learners an enriched environment dedicated to high levels of attainment in academic endeavors. The interviewee believes that it is imperative for the staff of the school to create such environment where children feel cared, secure, and confident. One undertaken initiative has been an emphasis on the bully-free environment. Thereby children could share their feelings and concerns or report instances of bullying without disclosing their identity. The school has Border Patrol agents comprised of students. They monitor the school in order to discourage bullying. The premise behind efforts to create the environment where children feel secure is that happy and well-adjusted kids demonstrate a better behavior. Moreover, they achieve better comprehension and academic outcomes. The interviewee repeatedly referred to a School Improvement Plan for 2013-2014 that recommended establishing a supportive culture and climate within the school. This could be done via ensuring the personnel’s training and building the strong teachers’ morale. The same plan recommends initiating a mentoring club to build the student self-esteem, track pupils’ success and recognize their accomplishments.
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In regards to the structure of the school, the interview has allowed to obtain the following information. Kazen Elementary School is the one out of 26 elementary schools in the United Independent School District. It is a public school that serves 621 students (nearly all of them are Hispanic). It hires 37 full-time equivalent teachers with the average teaching experience of 11 years. The school has 16 students for each full-time teacher; while the average for Texas public schools is 15:1. Spending per student ($5,834) is the approximate average cost for the state.
The principal has explained that human resources and mission of the school as well as some environmental constraints create a shared orientation (i.e. a cultural system). The latter one presents the bureaucratic expectations interconnected with students’ behavior, motivation, and incentives.
The School’s Vision of Teaching and Learning
The politics of the school is aimed at facilitating the efforts of teachers, parents, and community. Building the each other’s strengths facilitates reaching a goal of enhancing the students’ achievement. The principal has said that the school politics are based on the school’s four goals. The first one is to continue improving the students’ achievements. For teachers, it means that they are responsible for accelerating this by utilizing some instructional technology programs based on a scientific research. Also, the principal together with teachers analyzes some measurements of the students’ progress to identify the pupils’ area of difficulty. According to the interviewee, Kazen Elementary School teachers utilize teacher assistants to include a small group and individualized instructions. Thus, they create the small group/individual intervention plans to address some areas of difficulty and implement the enriched curriculum to improve an academic achievement. The principal said that the second goal was to provide a nurturing and safe environment for students and staff. In regards to children’s safety, the principle has made sure that teachers and parents are aware of bullying/cyber bullying issues and act promptly to assure the prevention and minimize the spread of these problems. Motivation and incentives for students are essential for increasing their attendance and enhancing the participation. The school has established a system of rewards and incentives for a perfect attendance. Such ones include: movies, a free homework pass, and others. The school sets the clear and concise expectations for teachers and students. Expectations explain requirements for attendance, behavior, and academics.
The Community’s Role at School
Third goal is to promote the community engagement and parental involvement. The interviewee believes that one of the current needs of the school is to have a better connection and stronger ties with the local community. Some steps that the school takes to facilitate a stronger community involvement are as follows. The Kazen Elementary School tries to invite more community leaders and helpers for a visit. The latter ones give presentations to all grade levels. Also, community helpers and representatives are invited and encouraged to attend the events in recognition of the parents’ involvement, grade level achievements, community contribution activities award ceremonies, and Kazenville Community days. Moreover, the school involves organizations and clubs in order to get students involved in extra-curricular activities.
The interviewee has said that her years of experience confirm that the parental involvement and community partnership account for an improved student achievement during childhood. The principal has emphasized that the parental involvement and teacher-family collaboration have a significantly positive impact on the child’s behavior and academic achievement. She has stated that she is convinced in the effectiveness of parent-partnership programs during the school years. She believes that the lack in parental time investments attributes to a child’s poor academic performance. The principal has referred to the studies she has been familiar with. She has claimed that a strong parent-teacher relationship can compensate the lack of psychological and financial resources on the part of parents and contribute to a higher academic achievement. This is an important factor related to over 80 (%) of the Kazen Elementary School’s students receiving a free or discounted lunch. As a principal, while communicating with teachers, she has stressed on the importance of establishing a partnership with parents. Whereby their involvement is encouraged and becomes a positive trend at school. The interviewee’s three decades of experience in the field of education and elementary one, in particular, strongly suggest that the frequent teacher-parents communication improves the on-task behavior and class participation. It also increases the homework completion rates. The school holds the grade level parent sessions and Academic Carnivals aimed at emphasizing the academic learning among parents. Also, the school coordinates monthly with the local community agencies that provide parents with some topics of interest to help their children. The students’ achievement is the area that the principal and teachers feel could be improved. They try to enhance the parents’ cooperation for better results.
The Leadership of the Principal
The interviewee has shared that the principal plays a vital role in sending clear signals to employees, parents, students, and the community. It is related to how serious she is about upholding standards that the school sets forth. In the principal’s opinion, leadership plays a vital role in setting an example of adherence for high professional standards and an appropriate ethical guidance for employees. The leader has to demonstrate values that contribute to building a sustainable school culture and creating a positive climate within the school. In fact, most of employees look for their leaders for the ethical guidance and signals about what is acceptable in their educational practice and communication with children and parents and what is not. Importantly, the behavior of a leader and personnel has to align with the school and community values.
The principal’s goal is to form and maintain a team of qualified employees by facilitating the employees’ development and training initiatives. The principal accepts the effective communication as a critical factor for creating such an environment where teachers can work in a pleasant and enjoyable setting. A poor communication makes a teaching process more confusing and accounts for poorer students’ outcomes, mistakes, and lost opportunities. At the same time, an effective communication helps to prevent a burnout, the low morale, and stress as well as to find the ways for increasing the teachers’ motivation and job satisfaction.
The analysis of the principal’s interview indicates that the main strengths of the school are as follows.
- Firstly, it is a cohesive team of school teachers dedicated to high professional standards. They are committed to striving for the best possible outcomes in children’s academic, social, and emotional development. The school personnel encourage students’ creative thinking, curiosity, and active participation being vital for children’s development.
- The second main strength is a comfortable psychological environment that allows kids to more fully dedicate their attention and energy to studies and tasks, at hand. An area that could be improved is the students’ academic achievements.
The most striking thing about the school and its leader that has captured attention was a high level of enthusiasm, her passion for the job, a belief in the values of education, and love for her students. These things could be felt during the interview and the way in how the principal was talking about children, personnel, and the task of providing the quality education to pupils.