Written by:

Holly Macdonald


June 1, 2009

Last week, I attended a school function at our local middle school, where I sit on the Parent Advisory Council (PAC).  It was an orientation night for parents of kids entering the school in the fall.  Last year I attended as a parent and it was dull, dull, dull.  We listened to the principal drone on and show his numerous slides, although he did include my favorite video about the importance of language (for the French Immersion parents).  This year, we have a new principal and here’s how the evening went:

  • Warm up – we all had to meet a bunch of new people
  • We were given a scavenger hunt to complete (as a competition) in teams
  • We were then told that we would have to come up with a team “cheer” and perform it in front of the others
  • After judging of the cheer, we moved on to talking about the brain of a child in middle school (it is a scary thing, so I’ll spare you the details), and we were asked to contribute words to describe our kids in this phase of life. 
  • After a “formal presentation”, which consisted of images, not a lot of words, we had time for Q&A.

What lessons did I learn?

Start as you mean to go on – the principal set the tone for the relationship that these parents will forge with the school for the duration of their child’s middle years (at least 3 years if it is just one child, perhaps longer if they will have more than one child at the school)

Have fun – no matter how old you are, learning can be fun (try watching a bunch of middle-aged parents come up with a cheer), and leading is all about learning.

Leadership is not a spectator sport – the vice principal designed the session, but they were both in attendance for the entire evening.

Leadership isn’t a solo event – involving key stakeholders in your leadership makes you a stronger leader – members of the parent advisory council, staff and a few kids were involved in the design, delivery or both of the session and are involved in many aspects of the school.