My interview with Kevin Richard, Kennett Middle School Principle and most recently, hired as the SAU 9 Assistant Superintendent.
We spoke on the phone and agreed that I would email him my interview questions, so that he could answer them in writing. Kevin has graciously said that he would love to visit the school and continue our discussion in person. I have invited him to a Walk Through The Grades at the Waldorf School, which is to be scheduled on a Tuesday morning – most likely after February vacation.
I really enjoyed asking him the following Leadership type of questions. Being an Administrator of a school, and new at it, I feel that I would love to talk with Kevin for hours, especially about communication with staff and parents. I also related to the “hard part of the job” the budget, where if the numbers don’t work, some hard decisions need to follow.
I’m looking forward to talking more with Kevin in the future and I’m really glad I chose him to interview.
- How would you motivate others, listen to you, follow you and to accomplish the goals of your department? Getting staff to buy in to the common mission and vision is first and foremost important. Once the mission and vision have been committed to, the establishment of meaningful goals comes next. I think that it is also important to recognize and celebrate the achievement of goals while having fun! I think that I model the behaviors that I want to see in my staff. The goals are usually a collaborative effort with clear benchmarks for evaluation.
- How do you motivate yourself? I treat every day like I have to prove myself as if I may not have a continuing contract. I like to think that I am treating the students of Kennett Middle School just as I would want my own children to be treated (I have seen my four children through Kennett!). I am probably my own worst critic, and reflect upon what I could do better all the time. I want to improve on my abilities and constantly keep up with what the research says about education.
- How did you come to learn leadership styles that you use daily? I have been fortunate to work with some good leaders in my career. I also think that people have a “natural” ability to lead and often times people have recognized this in me and put me in positions of leadership. I have earned a masters degree in educational leadership and continue to take post-graduate classes as we speak. I have been lucky to bring some of my experiences to these courses which give me the opportunity to exam my own practices. I also enjoy the study of some of the great leaders and read their biographies.
- Please describe a situation when you successfully led someone, and were able to see the results of your leadership. Probably some of the most gratifying experiences that I can have as a Principal is when I can give feedback to a new teacher and they can use that feedback to improve. When they come back and tell me “it worked!” with a smile on their face, I feel like I am making a difference. I have also been able to help mentor teachers into some administrative jobs and they have been very successful. Any time I see a former student who comes up to me and thanks me for helping them become who they are, I am reminded about why I work as hard as I do!
- What was the toughest decision you had to make in your role? Unfortunately, budget season forces decisions to be made that may impact the organization. As a Principal I can’t make decisions based upon personalities, but on the positions. I have had to tell some great teachers that there would not be a position for them due to budget cuts. It is easy to say goodbye to staff who just “don’t cut it”, but very difficult to say goodbye to good teachers.
- Based on your point of view, what characterize a good leader today? A good leader is someone who doesn’t waiver on their own values. Too often you can see leaders change over time. I feel like I am reading Animal Farm when I watch some people manipulate the rules to fit their own interests or needs. In today’s world a good leader has to be cautious not to get caught up in the pressures of the media presentation. It takes a great deal of courage and conviction to put up with the personal attacks of the vocal minority and special interest groups.