National Principals Month: DeSoto ISD Principals Leading Amid the Pandemic

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DeSoto ISD Honors Their Principals

DESOTO– In honor of National Principals Month, DeSoto ISD is honoring its principals who are key to the success of its school system. During this month, the district will celebrate its principals’ innovative leadership and tireless pursuit of successful outcomes for students.

DeSoto ISD, like school districts across the world, faced a myriad of new challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic and school principals came through when it mattered most to ensure that students and teachers remained engaged and that learning continued with as much normalcy as possible.

In the spring, principals helped with the swift transition to virtual learning, orchestrating creative community drive-by parades, drive-through award ceremonies, and surprise curbside home visits. This summer and fall, there remains an intense commitment to academic continuity, student achievement, and engagement. Principals have participated in extended hours of planning and preparation for virtual learning and hybrid instruction. Many are leading online parent information and training sessions while constantly reviewing and retooling their campus strategies to mold their campus community and keep everyone well.

Focused on Education

Both DeSoto High School Principal Shon Joseph and Interim DeSoto West Middle School Principal Mevlyn Lowe shared the word “Focus” as their leadership emphasis approach for this school year.

“With all that is going on in the world and the community around us, we must not get derailed. We must focus on the task at hand and make sure that learning is happening,” said Lowe. “We must keep the main thing, the MAIN thing.”

DHS Principal Shon Joseph agreed and detailed his meaning of focus for students and staff.

“This year, we are asking our students and staff to remain focused on education as an opportunity. We believe that we must prepare hard to finish easy,” said Joseph. “When we are focused, we can reach our goals. As a learning organization, it is critical we remain laser-focused on high-quality instruction and student achievement.”

With the increased use of instructional technology, the management of virtual learning, parents supporting at-home instruction, and some district teachers instructing both their classroom of students while managing the virtual learning of their own children, a new dynamic is brought into the campus instructional arena this year. However, district principals are still committing to excellence as the standard of the day for their campuses.

Taking A Team Approach

Cockrell Hill Elementary Principal Angela Robinson is taking a team approach to achieve excellence and support her teachers through these new challenges.

“As we navigate this “Whole New World” of virtual learning, we intentionally implement systems to ensure that our students are learning at high levels. Our teachers and campus leaders have embraced technology and are learning and growing,” said Robinson as she mentioned the value of maintaining an open and collaborative learning environment between all stakeholders. “We identify, attend, and create excellent professional development sessions to guide our work as a team and yield great dividends. We take ownership of our school community and we depend on our community, support staff and teachers for their feedback, support, and execution of the plan. Our parents are also available to support us in developing and growing children. We are in this together”

Excellence As An Intentional Habit

Ruby Young Elementary Principal Shaunta Duren also spoke to the concept of excellence as an intentional habit in this new era.

“It is imperative that as a school community we remain focused on carrying out every action in a more excellent way. Excellence is not perfection. However, everyone can feel a sense of appreciation, belonging and worth when excellence becomes an individual and collective habit,” said Duren.

“As a hybrid leader, I now find myself reinventing my strategies and approaches for supporting the needs of staff, students and families within my school community. I am continuously evolving to meet the needs of those whom I serve by working to do common things in an uncommon way.”

District Alternative Education Program Principal Homer D. Webb spoke to the necessity of maintaining and leading with hope. Webb leads the non-traditional programs in the district and often deals with students and circumstances that thrive from this approach.

Leading With Hope

“The belief that things can and will change for the better is critical. You can’t win the race if you stop before the finish line,” said Webb. “I try to create environments that will one day benefit those I come into contact with, in a positive way. Some days it’s planting seeds. Other days, it may be watering or providing light. Although it may not seem like any growth is occurring at the moment, given the right conditions what was planted will grow.”

National Principals Month is celebrated throughout the entire month of October by the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)—as well as district leaders, policymakers, parents, students, teachers, and school leaders across the nation.

DeSoto ISD will celebrate campus principals using the social media hashtag #ThankAPrincipal to recognize and celebrate our campus leaders.

DeSoto ISD staff are also welcome to celebrate a campus principal by using their Employee V.O.I.C.E. and the Community can share a comment on the district’s Facebook post.

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