Casas is in his 20th year as a school administrator, and offered several tips to help school principals instill the same excellence in their schools as he has in his 1,450-student school.

Select for excellence during the hiring process

Casas said that first impressions matter, and school principals should ensure that, as a building leader, they come across  as passionate, enthusiastic, and proud of the school community.

Setting up interview candidates for success is important. Some interview questions are designed to trick candidates, but Casas said he wants to set up potential educators to succeed, because in turn, those educators should put their students in the position to be successful in class.

“When a candidate leaves the school after an interview, I want them to say, ‘I wish I could work for that principal,’” he said. “You want people talking about your school as if that was the best experience they had. …Effective leaders share their passion.”

Build a community of leaders

School principals who are wise during the hiring process have already started off on the right foot by hiring educators who model excellence and who are committed to helping students and maintaining a positive school culture.

But how, exactly, do you hire for excellence? Looking for attributes such as strong relationship-building, being student-centered, collaborating with students and colleagues, being problem-solvers, having empathy, and being service-minded are all positive attributes.

The next step is to build a community of student and teacher leaders.

Letting teachers take risks is important, Casas said, because it puts educators in positions to be successful if those risks pay off.

Laura Ascione

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