**In Honor of National Principals’ Month **
Maine’s Positive PRINCIPAL Story of the Day ~ Jennifer McGee, Atwood Primary Elementary in Oakland ~
Hello fellow administrators! My name is Jennifer McGee, and I have been a public educator for 37 fabulous years (perhaps minus the Covid19 dark phase)! This is my 23rd year as a school administrator, and for 14 years I was a middle school special education and English teacher. I’ve had the pleasure of working as an assistant for three years in both a middle school and a high school, and I have spent the remainder of my career as a junior high and primary school principal. Currently, I am the principal of Atwood Primary School in Oakland, Maine…part of the RSU 18 school district. In 2017 I had the honor of being named an NAESP National Distinguished Principal of the Year, and Maine’s Elementary School Principal of the Year.
In addition to working as a school administrator, I have worked as an adjunct professor for New Hampshire University and Thomas College. Currently, I teach educational leadership courses for Thomas College. For fun, I have authored two books of fiction: Walker Hill and Nine Minutes and Counting, and both are being sold on Amazon. In order to give back to my profession, I enjoy serving on the MPA Mentor/Protégé Program, I am a member of the MPA Board of Directors, and I co-teach the Great Beginnings Program with Chad Bell! My husband, Mike, and I have seven children and six grandchildren (and counting), and a little dog, Louie, who really runs the show! We live on China Lake and, when we can, we escape to our little home in New Port Richey, Florida.
If you LOVE children, this is the job for you. I would never want to work at a job where laughter isn’t a fixture, reverberating up and down the hallways. Serious work, such as ours, requires serious attempts to maintain levity. Since I began this work, I have always carried a tiny notebook with me and I jot down the funny things I hear children say, or the stories teachers recount to me. Each week, on my “Friday Memo”, I write a “quote of the week” which inspires all of us to capture the hilarious things our children say. I literally have thousands of examples!
A recent example came from a little first grade boy, a “frequent flier” who was being pretty difficult in my office. I spoke to him in a very calm, but firm, voice, and he paused, and looked at me with a furrowed brow. He spoke to me using slow, deliberate words, “Mrs. McGee, I am going to have to think LONG and HARD before coming to your office again if you treat me this poorly.”
You can even find hilarity during assessment season. During letter identification, a kindergarten teacher pointed to an upper case Y, and asked what the letter was. The child’s answer was definitive: “slingshot.”
Our art teacher asked her class if they remembered what needed to be mixed with the earth to make clay? The children were stumped, so she prompted, “…it begins with w…”. A hand immediately shot up, “WINE!”
Our work is hard. Our work is important. Find reasons to laugh, every day. The reasons are all there within the walls of your schoolhouses. Children are funny! Yesterday, a second grader informed me, “Just so you know, last night, my Mom and I looked all through your Facebook!” Yup, children are funny!