School Change Begins with Listening

How do leaders strive to move schools in a good direction, from whatever starting point?  That is the central question of school change, and that is the question that is occupying Deb Beaupre (UVEI Principal Intern Class of 2015), the new assistant principal at Hillsboro-Deering Elementary School.

Drawing on her long experience as a teacher and a teacher leader, and building on the ideas,  experiences, practice and feedback she gained at UVEI,  Deb has (at least) two starting answers:  listen and rely on evidence.

Deb understands that good leadership begins with listening. “I know that my job is to listen, and better understand where teachers are coming from,” she said. With this commitment in mind, she began her tenure by seeking to understand how teachers approach their work, the challenges they are wrestling with and the support they were looking for.

At the same time, Deb, who “spent the summer analyzing data,” is committed to using evidence to help surface challenges that the school community can tackle together. From her initial investigations, Deb concluded that teachers need to rediscover the joy in teaching.  “I’m hoping to establish some systems to help them remember why they became teachers.”

Is it working? Well, it’s September and too early to tell.  But Deb is confident she’s on the right track. After a recent staff meeting, Deb received a round of applause, which meant a lot to her. “That is unheard of in teaching,” she said with a smile.  "When does that happen?”

While the encouragement was appreciated, Deb is clear that she did not go into education or leadership for accolades.  She’s leading to make her school better -- for kids and for teachers. “That’s my goal,” she says.

Story by Debra Beaupre

Debra Beaupre is the new assistant principal at Hillsboro-Deering Elementary School.  She graduated from UVEI's Principal Intern Program in 2015.