Your Most Precious Commodities

I am sitting at the kitchen table, thinking about the next two days. That’s all I have left of my summer “vacation”. I use the quotes because if you are  a principal like I am, you rarely take a full-fledged vacation. But that is another story for another time. I am thinking about the most precious and valuable commodity that we, as building leaders, have. Now, let me take a minute and explain something. I am not taking into account our kids. They are in an entirely different category, far beyond anything else that we can discuss here. Having said that, what I am thinking about are my people, the ones who make up my team, the ones who do the lion’s share of the work around my building. As I sit here, thinking about what a great staff I have, I feel it is important to clarify and give credit where credit is due. Take a minute and think about all the people who make a difference in your school. Want some help? Here is a list of the people I am thankful for.


We have a fantastic group of people who keep our building clean. But during this time of year they deserve an extra amount of kudos. Not only do they keep the building clean during the year, but our people are responsible for getting it ready to open during the summer. They pull desks out of classrooms so they can clean and wax the floors. They move desks and furniture and basically scrub everything from top to bottom to get it ready for the new school year. Have you done something nice for them this summer? It is not too late.

Cafeteria Staff

Talk about a thankless job. These people feed 1500 kids and staff every day. And they do it with a smile on their faces, a warm greeting for students and a hot meal, which might be their only one of the day. During the school year, make sure you thank them often.

Front Office Staff

Are you in the front office a lot? If you are like me, I spend very little time in the office. I am out and about quite a bit. While you might be the principal, you are not the face of the school. That title belongs to the people in the front who greet parents, help students, solve problems on the phone (and keep them off your desk) and basically run the day-to-day operations of the school. I know my people spend an inordinate amount of time keeping me straight. Make sure they know they are appreciated.


These are my heroes. The work they do, the caring they show, the dedication they have, it cannot be measured. Nor can it be appreciated enough. Teacher Appreciation week is in May, but every day provides you with opportunities to say thank you. Make sure you are taking advantage of these opportunities. Say thank you a lot. Write thank you notes. Recognize birthdays. There are a million different ways to show your appreciation. All we need to do is make the effort to do so.

Assistant Principals

I have been blessed with outstanding assistant principals. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but they all have one thing in common. They are consumed with making our school the best it can possibly be. They take so much off of my plate and allow me to focus on getting in classrooms and visible and present in the school. While many of their contributions are behind the scenes, their impact is unmistakable.

What kind of things do you do to show your people you appreciate them? Sounds like another blog post in the making.


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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