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Family and Community Engagement- Integral Part of School Improvement

Family and Community Engagement is essential.  It is important to involve the entire school in creating an environment that supports parents.  We can easily create a welcoming school atmosphere and plan activities throughout the year.  But it is more than that.  It is also about changing attitudes and beliefs.  The attitude and belief system encourages shared responsibility with both school and family.

 It is a collaborative partnership between all stakeholders.

All parents want the best for their children.  Parents and school staff should be equal partners in support their child's learning.  In order to build this parentership, it rests primarily with the school.  Recognizing and investing in family engagement is key to closing the achievement gap and supporting the success of all students.

The number one reason why schools should invest in family and community engagement:

Research shows us that students whose families are involved in their learning earn better grades, and are more likely to graduate from high school.

The number two reason why schools should invest in family and community engagement:

Families and teachers both benefit from the collaboration and support.  We cannot do this alone. 

Integral Part of School Improvement

Did you know the PTA organization has National Standards for Family-School Partnerships?

Take a look.

Standard 1: Welcoming all families into the school community—Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.

A family friendly school strives to forge partnerships with ALL families, not just those that are most involved.

Standard 2: Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.

Standard 3: Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Standard 4: Speaking up for every child—Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Standard 5: Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.

Standard 6: Collaborating with community—Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.

Are you interested in downloading the Family and Community Engagment Checklist?  

Engaging families is key to improving student achievement in school.- McConnell

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Classroom Observation Checklist-Digital Resources

I have some exciting news!  I have created the Classroom Observation Checklist in digital format.  After selling this in a hardcopy notepad for the last year, I have become overwhelmed with massive orders, printing supplies, and daily trips to the post office to ship.  Over the last month or so, I decided to not reprint the notepad and focus on creating a the electronic version.  Therefore, the digital version was born this week!

Many of you have requested this from me over the last year but I couldn't bring myself to creating it.  After all, I had a lot invested in the hard goods.



The digital format allows us as school leaders to use our digital devices (iPad, Smartphones, Laptops) in the classroom.  We can take notes during the observation and submit an email to the teacher at the end of the walkthrough or evaluation.  This is a huge time saving step in our very busy days.  


1.  Clickable Blue Boxes using Adobe Reader.
2.  Many background design choices.
3.  Digital Signature Section
4.  Email capability
5.  Use one page or two pages.


Go to https://principal-principles.myshopify.com and pick your favorite designs.
Open with Adobe to make all links blue.


If printing a copy, select "Actual Size" feature.  This makes the background go closer to the end of the paper.  


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Principal 90 Day Plan- Digital Resource

A first-year principal position can be an exciting time for you and, it can be a very daunting year.  I hope your very first year as a school leader is absolutely amazing and filled with great memories.  In order to tackle all the duties and responsibilities, I created this 90-day plan.

Feel free to download it and use it as your own guide or use it to tackle your own 90-day plan. We are all in this boat together so why not share our very best resources with each other.

Why a Principal Entry Plan?  

Think of this way.  Most every business has some kind of plan.  There are plans for airline pilots, servicemen, medical care teams, etc...   Plans give these individuals the tools/checklists they need to accomplish their duties.  This is the same for principals and other school leaders.  This Principal Entry Plan is your basic operating procedures manual or checklist.  As you accomplish each task, just check it off.  As you think of another task, just add it to your list.  The plan is editable via Google Docs.

Principal Entry Plan-First 90 Days

ACCESS TO THE PLAN- Right click on the link and save the document to your computer.  This will allow you to edit.


As you may know, I have a brief Principal Entry Plan too.  It is a shortened overview of the basics.
Sections- Introductions, Goals for the School, Professional Learning, School Culture and Climate.  You can grab this shortened version in the Interview Packet found here.

The shortened plan is perfect for interviews and committee handouts.

Shortened Principal Entry Plan for Interviews and Committee


The 90-Day Principal Plan is longer and more detailed.  This is a guide for when you land the position.  I made it in Google Docs which allows you to continue to add to the plan.  Since each school is unique, customizing it for your needs is essential.


  1. Go to the Link to Download the 90-Day Entry Plan; (Right Click it)
  2. Make a Copy of the Document; 
  3. Edit Your Copy


This allows you to customize your own covers.  There are 10 cover design choices.  You will need the FREE version of ADOBE Reader to edit the boxes.

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Easter Theme Scratch Off Tickets

Do you feel excitement every time you scratch off a lotto ticket?  The thrill of winning something is invigorating.  

Scratch off tickets- an easy motivating tool for students and staff.  The best part is that the scratch offs don't involve paint.  Can I get an Amen?  No mess, no fuss!  All you need to do is add your own text and cover the prize area with a scratch off sticker.

I found the scratch off stickers on Amazon.  You can locate them here for silver and here for gold.  You all know how much I love gold.

The packet has 100 stickers.  One set sells around $8.  They arrived in two days by mail.   

As you can see the stickers are about the size of a quarter.

I printed my tickets on cardstock and simply added the sticker over the prize area.  Hand them out to your teachers and students.  The prize area is editable.  This allows you to customize your prizes. You will need the FREE version of Adobe Reader to edit the cards.

Printing is easy for me since I now how the HP Instant Ink Service.  You can read here how I can print hundreds of pages using colored ink for less than $9 a month.  If you are not part of the service, I highly recommend it.   If not, I did make the cards as ink-friendly as possible.

Special seating, Lunch with the Principal, Treasure Box Reward, etc...

*Note- Not every card has to have a reward.  That is something you could explain to your students.  After all, it is a lotto ticket.   Sometimes you win...sometimes you try again.

Jean Day, Leave Early, Arrive Late, Skip Afternoon Duty, etc...

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Candy Buffet for Teachers and Staff

Spring is the perfect time of the year for a candy bar buffet at school.  However, any time of the year is perfect for candy, right?  We can never do too much to show our staff how much they are loved and appreciated.  During the spring semester, we are faced with state testing, as well as, many other pressures.  A simple candy bar buffet with a little extra sugar during our day can give us a little "pick-me-up" to lift our spirits.

Candy buffets are easy to prep.  Just print these coordinating candy labels and grab some jars or small baskets and fill with your favorite candies.

The candy bar sign, pennants, treat bags and treat bag tags were all found at Hobby Lobby.  I  wanted to create some labels and a sign that coordinates with the items I purchased from Hobby Lobby.  I think they turned out pretty cute and match perfectly.  If you want the labels and the Enjoy Some Treats sign, just download here.

If done right, a candy buffet becomes more than just a delicious treat for your staff; it becomes a great morale booster too.  Who doesn't love a little candy every now and then?


I couldn't just buy one for me and not get one for you.  I purchased an extra to give away!  In the giveaway, you will receive the Candy Bar Sign, Gift Bags, Gift Tags, and Pennants.  This is your Candy Bar Starter Kit!  All you need to do is enter to win below.  If you are the winner, I will email you and then mail you the starter kit.  I will even print the sign and the candy labels for you and ship those to you as well.  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

John Maxwell says, "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect."  I think this maybe a quote that will stick with me for a long time.  I loved it so much I created this cute little graphic to remind me to connect and not just communicate.

I love being an active learner.  Therefore, I am constantly reading and trying to grow as a leader.   I believe building positive relationships with one another is one of the most important pieces.  It is vital to connect to those around us- family, friends, coworkers.  It doesn't matter what profession or what we are called to do.  There's not a greater need in the world than the need to connect.

Why is it important?  

Being connected to one another will not only build a relationship, it will sustain a relationship.  When the school is functioning with disconnected leadership, there will be a lack of engagement.  Everyone will function individually instead of as a whole.  School leadership should be considered service leadership.  Our intentions should be to see and add value to the lives of those on our campus.

Every person on our campus is unique.  They all have their own style of teaching.  They may have their own classroom, office, or cubicle in the building, but he/she seldom works in isolation.  Even though it may seem isolated if, in their own space, everyone is connected through a common purpose. In school, that common purpose is to be a school that inspires academic excellence, leadership, collaboration and provide a world-class education for our students.

This year it has been my goal to not only communicate but to connect.  This goal has been an intentional effort aimed to strengthen the relationships around me.  It is really been just a mindset change.

Being a school leader and blogger has given me the opportunity to meet and learn from people all across the country.  It has provided me the opportunity to help current and future school leaders address some of the greatest school challenges- from school management, dealing with difficult situations, budgets, state mandates, and many other topics.

But this was not an opportunity I ever expected to have when I first began as an educator.  Actually, I never thought about college or a career my entire childhood.  For you see, I grew up in extreme poverty and with parents who both struggled with addictions.  This is not something I really share with the world.  However, I wouldn't change a thing about my life.  I was brought up in tough situations, but I learned so much about myself and my sisters along the way.  We are strong women who appreciate even the littlest of things.  We have a lot to be proud of.  Being a positive person, I can appreciate the lessons learned from my childhood.  The lesson and legacy of my life can be summed up in this quote: "People can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves."

There is one thing I hope for you today- to live a connected life and create connected schools.  I hope that these connections enrich your life and those you serve.  This is how we will build stronger schools.  We just don't communicate about it...we connect.

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Create An Administrator Binder- Principal, Assistant Principal, Director

I have shared my principal binder with you many times over the years.  Each year, I try and perfect the design and layout.  I think this may be right at perfection.  Take a look at the binders that have been recently updated.  I hope to have all my other binders updated very soon.

I surveyed over 100+ school leaders to see what they would like me to include or change.  Here are their responses:

  • make several pages editable 
  • make the pages ink-friendly
  • remove any dates to keep it from being printed year-after-year.


How to Edit:

You will need to download the FREE version of Adobe Reader.  Adobe allows you to add your own text to the forms.  However, if you do not prefer the digital format, the PDF's can be printed.  Simply print and write on each form.

Calendars - Two Layouts

Daily - Glance at Your Day (Week-by-Week)

Monthly - Glance at Your Month

 Here is a look at the printed calendar.  Since I love to focus on Staff/Student Morale, I made a section to plan each month's morale booster ideas!  There is a space for staff birthdays, Morale Booster Ideas, and Celebrations/Recognitions for Staff and Students!  Never miss an opportunity to celebrate all the great things you are doing.


The files come in a zipped folder.  Just unzip the folder and all the files are labeled so you can quickly locate what you need.

If the technology pieces worry you, no fear!  I even created a 5 page handout (included in the zipped folder) for your reference.

Ready to download?  Here's the link to my TpT Store

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