I was fortunate to have the unique opportunity to interview my Principal, Dr. Tim Anderson and Head of School, Dr. Julie Giardino. Since we are employed at a Christian school, I was interested in learning their personal teaching philosophies, views on education and personal beliefs on leadership. In regards to their teaching philosophies, both believe innately and unequivocally that all children have the ability and a right to learn. Together, they have over 30 years of educational experience and their passion for student learning and achievement is still evident. They surmise teachers are the authorities in the classroom, should be empowered to be creative and have the ability to adapt or change curriculum. However, they also conclude teachers should not supersede administration or affect policy. At the core or foundation of every decision they make is their relationship with Christ. This foundation drives how they interact, communicate and lead others.
Therefore transparency, truth, integrity and dignity for all people are moral truths and or ethical standards they reverence. Both individuals have a collaborative/servant leadership style and feels that the key to being an effective leader starts by being a good listener. Second, a good leader builds meaningful relationships by: a) modeling a servant’s attitude, b) collaborating with constituents, c) celebrating differences, d) recognizing accomplishments and e) fostering accountability via restorative correction. Since building relationships is one of the fundamental elements of their leadership style, both are prudent in utilizing e-mail and social media as a form of communication between themselves and their constituents. Dr. Anderson understands social media and e-mail is useful as a way to communicate facts (for example teacher duties, responsibilities or upcoming sporting events). However; Dr. Giardino expressed, she values one on one communication.
In her experience, e-mail can foster miscommunication due to the inability to read body language and tone. Dr. Anderson and Dr. Giardino cautioned that although their style is collaborative there are times they will adapt their style to a given situation. If there is an immediate threat in the building and or someone is being defiant in nature, their style will become directive to mitigate or resolve the conflict. In conclusion, they both agree the best part of the job is the people. Dr. Anderson elaborated, that as a principal, he has the ability to influence and impact more children. He also gets to be involved and interact with all constituents: the students, parents, teachers and community. However; Dr. Giardino cautioned being an effective leader is lonely. There are long hours involved and one needs to have a strong support system to balance work and family.