Summary: The next step is the panel will deliberate immediately and make an announcement soon. Box is the only candidate the panel is currently considering.
What are some questions you have for the panel?
Box: What are some areas that I can improve and what do people see the direction Harbor View is taking. What at Harbor View needs to be improved and what can I do?
A panel member suggests there should be a way to put that question out to the community.
We have a lot of things already in place and keeping the momentum going with all those things. We, parents, students, staff, feel like we’re moving forward together.
We have very diverse spacial education programs, I feel like you’ve been doing a good job coming and asking questions, so I’d like to see you continue to pursue those questions.
Continuing to help encourage kids to know that this (the school) is theirs also and that’s something they should be aware of.
Box: Is there anything else your curious about or something we didn’t address here today?
I think you’re being interim, you’re already familiar with a lot of the issues.
How do you measure your success as a educational leader?
Student data is an important tool to see how you’re making a difference. Also being open to hearing criticism and giving people opportunity to share their perspectives of your job.
The morale of the building is a good indicator. I think we have good morale but it’s a hard job and I think we need to check in with teachers and staff.
I think being open to people, letting people know they can talk to me. Knowing that staff and families feel safe and happy and like they’re a part of this community.
There are occasionally behavioral issues that interfere with learning, how do you balance the need to maintain a healthy learning environment with a duty to help students?
We have very intentional strategic ways to address the needs of kids when it comes to their behavior. I think restorative practices are a really good way for students to reflect.
You have to address it and you can’t ignore it. Having really clear expectations and having kids stay on track.
When things are really bad, for me it’s the need to address it. Consistency is a really big thing, it’s huge. Teachings those expectations clearly, modeling them, and the follow through. Kids want to know that when we say this is going to happen, this is going to happen.
It doesn’t have to be a punitive thing but there needs to be consistency between staff and faculty.
A principal’s job involves many different roles. How much time would you ideally allocate to each of those roles each week?
Ideally there would be zero time for discipline, but obviously that’s not a reality, but ideally. I do like working with students on that though.
I think it would mostly be instructional leadership, if I had the perfect week it would be supporting teachers.
What’s an initiative that can work towards closing the achievement gap?
Box: I’m going to focus on behavior. We have a lot of children coming to school with trauma, and not necessarily that school skill-set. Sometimes behavior issues are interfering with instruction.
Because the behavior issues have increased they seem more extreme. Figuring out how we can address those and the needs of kids.
I feel like if we could eliminate that, we have all that we need to eliminate the gap but there’s so many other things and factors that we need to address.
What can you personally do to ensure learning outcomes in the classroom?
Box: Time. Time is probably one of the best things I can personally do. Sometimes I feel like we kind of leave our new teachers on their own. Teachers are naturally helpful people and we have lots of helpful people in the building but it’s important to check in.
Being in classrooms. When I come into a classroom I’m going to talk to students and ask, “what are you doing? What is the importance of this?” It doesn’t have to be a formal observation.
Having curriculum and having conversations around that curriculum is really important. We have great programs but sometimes they have missing components and we’ve had some great conversations about how we can improve certain elements of those programs.
Looking at data. We have lots of great data but we don’t always give each other time to look at an analyze that data.
How do you handle disagreements between parents and staff or between students?
Box: Letting people talk things through, hoping some kind of conversation as already happened before it’s come to my phone or door
When kids have differences, involve the school counselor, having kids reflect on their own what was the conflict.
Most effective way parents can support is by checking in with their student and asking what their experience at school was. We have a newsletter that includes what kind of learning is taking place which I think is a great resource.
Has your perspective changed as an educational leader since you took the job as an interim principal?
Box: I don’t think my perspective has changed but once your in it, there’s challenges but my overall perspective hasn’t changed.
I have specific goals that I want to achieve as an educational leader but how I want to lead hasn’t changed. I want to be engaged and I want to be a great listener. It’s hard, it’s not that I didn’t know it would be a big job but to do a really effective job you need to be in the trenches.
I hope that I have an open door policy with my stakeholders, both my staff and parents. I want to be approachable and a good listener.
Box: In my career I’ve enjoyed taking leadership roles, whether in the classroom or as a team leader. This position is very close to heart because my children went here.
Originally it wasn’t on my radar but stepping into the role has been exhilarating, I feel lucky to just glide into the position, being able to come in with that knowledge. One of my biggest skills is relationship skills.
Assistant principal role was a great stepping stone to this, part of why I didn’t stay in that role was because I didn’t feel like I was the educational leader I wanted to be. Long hours and I had small children at the time.
Representatives from the Juneau School District, Site Councils and parent representatives are interviewing Harbor View Elementary School interim principal Molly Box for the position of principal.
Posts written here are a summary of Ms. Box’s answers to the panel’s questions and are not her verbatim responses.