"The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority."Bill O'Brien speaking to the 6th graders at Camp Miniwanca
-Coach K as Retweeted by Bill O'Brien
I admit I do not know who Coach K is, but Bill O'Brien has been my principal for the last 3 years. Much research has been done in regards to the correlation between academic achievement and the relationship between a principal and school counselor. If this research is accurate, our students benfitted greatly from my respect for Bill. I will get a new principal soon and my greatest hope is that our new principal is as much an "actualarian" as Bill is. ( yes, I made that word up and my auto-correct seems quite unhappy about it) Here is my definition: An actualarian is someone who can see and encourage potential in each individual student and staff member and then work to make that potential grow. My new word is derived from "self-actualization". A leader however, can contribute to and influence actualization of others. I could give examples of encouragement that Bill gave our 8th grade science teacher to explore Antarctica and a Great Lakes stewardship, or the 6th grade team of teachers who found themselves actualizing an entire grade level through a camp partnership, or a 7th grade teacher trying project based learning for the first time. All of these undertakings inspired change in the building and also change in individuals. For me, Bill allowed me to concentrate more of my time on direct student services by encouraging me to become a WEB coordinator. He also understood that professional development throughout the year was very instructionally based, and so he paved the way for me to attend the ASCA conference in Philadelphia. I know that these changes in me impact our students and influence school culture. I appreciate his influence on my profession.
Bill is leaving our building this fall but has left what he encouraged our students to leave- a legacy. We will have another principal and I am confident that he/she will do a great job and begin to make his/her own mark on our school. I am hopeful that we will hire another actualarian. But now, as we wait to see who will be hired, I would like to say thank you Bill O'Brien. You have had a strong influence on our building and culture and by the way, I also follow Coach K on Twitter now.