When I started as the new principal at Brookwood three years ago, my first goal was to get a sense of the school’s climate. With my leadership team, I looked at our students’ results from the Georgia health survey to see how kids were feeling about school. We also did a survey of the staff that asked them to name three things they loved about the school and three things they wished they could change.

Looking at those responses from students and teachers, the most conspicuous area of improvement was the school culture.

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As leaders, we needed to improve our relationships with our students and help them develop competencies such as social awareness, self-management, and responsibility. Identifying the need for building-wide change was the easy part. Getting everyone in the building to embrace a new school initiative in Year One was the real challenge.

About the Author:

Tracey Smith is the principal at Brookwood Elementary School in Forsyth County, Georgia. Follow her on Twitter: @tbsmith01.


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