What are the Most Important Things in Your Tool Chest?

No, no, no…not THAT tool chest. I am talking about something completely different than what you are thinking. We all have our Principal “tool chest”. Full of instructional strategies, motivation techniques, morale boosters, you know the one. That is NOT what I am talking about. I am talking about an actual tool chest. You have one. Don’t believe me? Open your desk drawers. Look through them. Do you see it? Do you see those tools that every Principal should have at a moment’s notice? No? Let me help you out. Here are some tools that I think every Principal should have. The list would make any boy scout (always be prepared) proud.

Eyeglass Repair Kit

I can’t count the number of times a student (or an adult) would come to me with a screw that had fallen out of his or her glasses. I have three eyeglass repair screwdrivers in my desk drawer. Make sure you have a flat head and a phillips head one. You can never be too prepared.

A Box of Tissues

And a travel pack in your pocket. Students, parents, staff…I have had to pull out tissues for all of them at some point each year. Make sure you have plenty handy. Especially during cold season.

Safety Pins

Like eyeglass repair kits, you won’t need one until you need one. These handy items are useful for all types of emergencies. Keep a stack of them in your desk drawer. They will get used.


I am a borderline hoarder, especially when it comes to these items. I pass them out like candy. Need a pen? What color? Pencil? Absolutely. Paper? College ruled? Here you go. I also keep a stack of new (or gently used) spiral notebooks and three ring binders on hand for kids who need them.


Like, real tools. We have a facilities coordinator in charge of general maintenance, but he is not always readily available. I have a tool bag in a closet, standard stuff. Hammer, screwdrivers, pliers. And I am particular about lending them out. They get used almost weekly for something.

A Set of Real Silverware

Hear me out on this one. This is purely selfish (you have to do that every now and again). I found an old fork, knife and spoon. They are pretty nice, and honestly I cannot remember how I came about having them. But I keep them in my desk drawer. When lunch time comes, I can use a real fork and knife, not a spork from the cafeteria. Now, normally this is while I am running from one fire to the next, but at least I can do it with a little bit of class. And a decent plastic plate helps as well. Some of the comforts of home.

A Smile and a Warm Greeting

While not something that you keep in your desk, this might be the most important item of all. As a Principal, we are always on. We cannot be the one who is moping, upset or down. No matter what is going on, a smile and a warm “hey there” are some of the best tools we can carry.

So what is in your desk drawer? Please add to my list. If there is something I don’t have I need to get my inner Boy Scout going and be prepared!


About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. 2018 Outstanding Virginia Middle School Principal of the Year 2018.
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