The "Chosen" Profession
There are times in life when we revisit the past and come away with a clearer picture of the present and a greater appreciation of where we are in life.
I recently had the pleasure of reuniting with some of the players and coaches I worked with at Jacksonville State University where I coached in the early 90s. We gathered for the filming of a documentary on our 1992 National Championship team and one-by-one we were interviewed by the producer with the videographer capturing each participant’s response.
One of our former players who entered the coaching profession was asked “what’s it like” to be a coach. He caught me off guard when he described being a coach as a “chosen” profession. His response was eye-opening to me because I had never heard it put that way before.
He went on to explain that he believes a coach is chosen by God to enter the profession. He described it as a calling that many would fail at because they would be unwilling to do the “little things” necessary to succeed. In a nutshell, most would not be willing to make the sacrifices a coach must make to prevail in a difficult and demanding job.
On the drive home, I pondered his response, and it occurred to me that his assessment of coaches applied to my current position as a principal as well. Maybe more so.
As principals we make many of the same sacrifices that coaches make for our students, teachers and support staff. We are always on call no matter the hour or day. We are quick to be servant leaders, putting ourselves last so that everyone and everything else can be first. There are always people and situations that call for our help. A teacher or student’s problem becomes our problem because we have to be a positive influence in order to keep them moving in the right direction.
The average school in the state of Alabama has 500+ students and 50 or more employees. A principal at one of those schools will make more decisions affecting more people’s lives in one day than most other professionals will in a week’s time. Often times, those decisions will be to put out fires started by someone else; to extinguish a small blaze before it grows into a bigger problem. As the school’s leader it is necessary to be a master of triage in order to determine which fires have to be put out immediately and which ones can be simply contained until later.
It is a daunting task we face each day, trying to keep all the plates spinning at one time, attempting to be pleasant and thoughtful while doing so.
So why do I see the job of principal as deserving the label “chosen profession?” Well, like coaches, we must establish a trusting relationship with our “players” and teach and motivate them to reach their full potential each and every day. We must also pay careful attention to their needs knowing each one of them is a product of different circumstances.
We have to push the students we know can be successful if they will just apply themselves to their work a little more. We have to light fires inside the ones who can be great knowing that we may be the first in a position of authority that has ever truly believed in them. We must keep a close watch on the ones who come from a difficult background, the ones with little at home to eat making sure they stop by your office every Friday to pick up a backpack filled with enough non-perishable items to get them through another weekend. We must have the ability to recognize the teacher who is struggling with a crisis in their personal life but shows up for work each day. We have to extend a helping hand to them that says “I’m here and I care” by working with them in a difficult time.
These are just a few of the issues we as principals face each day. It is a stressful profession, but the rewards are worthy of our best efforts.
Remember the decisions we make and the lives we touch are numerous but to have one of our students or teachers become who God intended them to be makes the hard times we endure worthwhile. The road may get long, and the load may get heavy, but you are anointed and “chosen” to be in this place and time.
On behalf of everyone under your leadership, thank you for all you do!
Alabama Student Council Conference
Friday, April 29th, 6-8pm
655 U.S. 31
I hope that you have had a great year, and I hope that your year ends with a wonderful bang. To do that, you must stay focused until the end. Let us know how we can help you with a strong finish to a strong year. Until then, read below to get an update on the 2022 Alabama Legislative Session, some thoughts on the 2021-2022 school year, and some exciting updates on events to come.
The 2022 legislative session was a whirlwind of activity: some good; some bad. However, we did have several educational-related bills pass. The Literacy Act retention delay passed, and it will push the retention back to the end of the 2023-2024 school year. SB 170 passed and will exempt EL learners from the AAA report card for five years. Also, each LEA will receive a mental health service coordinator after HB 123 passed. The record $8.2 billion ETF budget passed both houses and is awaiting the signature of the governor. This bill contains a 4% raise for ALL school employees and a salary matrix increase in certain cells. You are asking, and many of you have called, “Do principals and administrators receive the salary matrix bump?” The answer is very simple: It depends. Great, thanks Vic! You have been a wealth of information on this subject. Seriously, we have 140 districts and about 100 different ways principals and administrators are compensated. Quite simply, if your salary is a multiplier of the teacher salary matrix, then you are in line for the salary matrix bump. If your salary is not tied to the teacher matrix, then the raise depends on your district.
Several other bills passed in the last week of the session. Grants will be available to provide feminine hygiene products in Title I schools. The ETF FY 2022 supplemental appropriations bill passed as well, and the FY 2022 A&T supplemental appropriations passed. A bill requiring students to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex listed on the birth certificate passed as well. An amendment was added to this bill that will prohibit the discussion of gender for grades pre k-5. Other bills that did not make it on the calendar include the kindergarten/first-grade readiness bill, three different bills that would have increased retirement pay, and the divisive concepts bill. All those bills died.
The Parent Choice/Voucher bill will come back next year. To be clear: this bill is not about choice; it is about accountability. Every dollar that comes from the ETF should have the same accountability measures tied to it. Never has your voice been heard louder than this year. Thank you all for the work you have done and continue to do in your communities to advocate for education. You have crafted the narrative, and because of that, we have a record budget that includes raises and unprecedented changes to the salary matrix. Thank you!
The 2021-2022 school year has been a tale of two years. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times, and it was the “should I stay or should I go” year. Because of the disconnect created by the pandemic, educational metrics will be uneven at best. Scores are down or flat in most places and are up in a few places. In the locations that saw increases, the students were in school for the majority, if not the entirety, of the school year.
As you disaggregate the data from the year, I hope you can build plans to move your school and system forward. It is critical for us to have clear action plans for learning in every school. Test scores, report cards, and other indicators should not define a school or system. The work you do to grow everyone under your care should be what defines us. Are we working to better those under our care? That is the question.
We have a great CLAS Convention in store for you! The 2022 CLAS Convention will be held June 13-15, 2022, at the BJCC. We have great keynote speakers, break-out speakers, and more. You will get to reconnect with friends and colleagues, and you will get to learn at high levels all while having a great time in Birmingham! We hope to see you there!
Dr. Larry Haynes Named Middle School Principal of the Year
Dr. Larry Haynes, principal of Oak Mountain Middle School in the Shelby County School System, has been named 2022 Alabama Middle School Principal of the Year by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP).
Haynes has served a total of 35 years in education with the last 20 years in administration. He earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Montevallo in 1986 and an education specialist degree in 1995. In 2017, Haynes received his doctorate in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The Middle School Principal of the Year award was presented to Haynes on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, at Oak Mountain Middle School during a schoolwide assembly. Shelby County Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks was in attendance for the presentation. Horace Mann sponsors this award annually and Interior Elements grants an office makeover to the winner.
Haynes has promoted a collaborative culture that finds ways to celebrate the positives and reflect upon lessons learned. As a school leader, he recognizes the need to reevaluate and implement change. Throughout his career, he has focused on providing responsive learning practices that promote learning across disciplines as well as through character education and exploratory programs.
In his doctoral research, Haynes focused on identifying intervention strategies that support middle school students as they transition to high school. Haynes considers these practices his greatest success as a middle school principal. Through this foundation, the school offers before- and after-school tutoring and intervention programs to give students the academic support they need to be successful.
Haynes was chosen from three district finalists. The finalists interviewed with a panel of judges at the AASSP/AAMSP Fall Conference in November where the winner was determined. The other finalists were Cicely Curtis of R.B. Hudson STEAM Academy in Selma City Schools and April McCutcheon of Buckhorn Middle School in Madison County Schools.
“I am extremely proud that this honor is being bestowed upon my long-time colleague and friend, Dr. Larry Haynes,” says Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks. “Dr. Haynes is a dedicated professional who is committed to serving his school and community. There is no one that I know of that has a bigger heart for people. Congratulations!”
“In addition to being recognized for this honor, Dr. Haynes has been an active leader through his work in the Alabama Association of Middle School Principals, the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, and other professional and community organizations” comments CLAS and AASSP Executive Director Dr. Vic Wilson. “He is wholeheartedly dedicated to his school and community.
The Alabama Middle School Principal of the Year Award is sponsored by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals and Horace Mann Companies. An office makeover is also provided by Interior Elements.
Haynes will be recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the CLAS Convention on June 14, 2022, at the BJCC in Birmingham. The CLAS Convention is the largest gathering of school leaders in the state of Alabama. He will also be recognized at the AASSP/AAMSP Fall Conference in November 2022. He will also represent Alabama as the Secondary Principal of the Year in the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) recognition later this year.
Kyle Futral Named High School Principal of the Year
Mr. Kyle Futral, principal of Holtville High School in the Elmore County School System, has been named 2022 Alabama High School Principal of the Year by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP).
Futral has served a total of 15 years in education with the last 7 years in administration. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College in 2007. In 2014, he received a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Auburn University.
The High School Principal of the Year award was presented to Futral on Friday, January 28, 2022, at Holtville High School at a schoolwide assembly. Elmore County Superintendent Richard Dennis was in attendance for the presentation. American Fidelity Assurance sponsors this award annually and Interior Elements grants an office makeover to the winner.
As principal of Holtville High School, Futral has transformed the school culture from that of a school struggling with low morale, achievement, and attendance, to a school that strives for excellence. By collaborating with staff, many of the school’s issues were identified and addressed. Futral’s leadership style of listening, encouraging, supporting, organizing, and challenging the staff and students, caused the school culture to shift in a positive direction. The school experienced a 62% decrease in discipline referrals, 50% decrease in chronic absenteeism, 7% increase in the graduation rate, 33% increase in CCR rate, and a 20% increase in ACT proficiency in the last 5 years.
Futral was chosen from three district finalists. The finalists interviewed with a panel of judges at the AASSP/AAMSP Fall Conference in November where the winner was determined. The other finalists were Terina Gantt of Demopolis High School in Demopolis City Schools and Seth Taylor of Pleasant Valley High School in Calhoun County Schools. An overall winner will be chosen from the High School and Middle School Principals of the Year and will be recognized as Alabama’s Principal of the Year.
“Kyle Futral is an exceptional principal and is very proactive and innovative in his thinking and approaches to managing his school,” comments Elmore County Schools Superintendent Richard Dennis.
“It is evident that Mr. Futral has honed his leadership skills for the betterment of the students, staff, and the school overall. I’m pleased that Mr. Futral’s accomplishments can be recognized and celebrated with this award,” says AASSP and CLAS Executive Director Dr. Vic Wilson.
The Alabama High School Principal of the Year Award is sponsored by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals and American Fidelity Assurance. An office makeover is also provided by Interior Elements.
Futral will be recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the CLAS Convention on June 14, 2022, at the BJCC in Birmingham. The CLAS Convention is the largest gathering of school leaders in the state of Alabama. He will also be recognized at the AASSP/AAMSP Fall Conference in November 2022.