Compassion Over Compliance: Assistant Principal Shares His COVID-19 Advice

Tell us more about your role and your district.

I am currently the Assistant Principal at Chamblee Charter High School with the DeKalb County School District in the Atlanta metropolitan region.

What is your current situation like? How are you interacting with students at this time?

Like many schools across the nation, our school is currently engaged in remote learning. While remote learning looks different from school to school, at Chamblee we are working hard to provide students with equitable learning experiences. As an administrator, I rely on teachers to make daily contact with students. However, I am there to assist students who are having technical difficulties or reaching out to students who are not responding to teachers.

In addition, myself and other administrators personally reach out to students and their guardians when we notice a decline in their grades. We inquire about what supports we can provide them to ensure they finish the school year successfully.

How is your school stepping up for students at this time, to address issues beyond academic learning?

Our Chamblee Nation family has truly gone above and beyond to make sure our students have their basic needs met. DeKalb County Schools has designated sites for students across the district to receive free lunches and healthy snacks. Our school has worked hard to make sure that all students have Chromebook devices and mobile hot spots. I definitely feel my role has changed during this pandemic but my vision and passion for this work have remained strong.

What is a success or milestone that you feel like you’ve hit since schools have been closed?

One milestone that I am most proud of during this time is how our school faculty have rallied together for a common cause: student success. Right now, our school-wide motto is that our students need “compassion over compliance” during this time of uncertainty. It is a fine balance between accountability and empathy; our students’ mental and physical wellbeing are always a priority. Our administrative team has reminded our faculty that, as educators during this time, we can choose to focus on our students’ social emotional needs and understand that some students are going through physical and emotional distress.

What remains a challenge when it comes to meeting the needs of your students?

Right now, the challenge remains encouraging students who were already struggling prior to COVID-19. Unfortunately, this pandemic has only widened the feelings of disengagement and isolation. As I mentioned earlier, our administrative team has a plan in place to reach out directly to these students weekly to provide additional support.

What are some tips you’d give to someone in your position who is looking for ways to further support students?

I would tell anyone in an administrative position that their work will be cut out for them, but this unchartered situation also gives one an opportunity to reflect on their “WHY.” Why did you go into education? Why do you want to support students?

As an administrator, you are able to use your sphere of influence to not only impact but to motivate and encourage students and teachers to give their best every day. There is no time like the present to be an educator and to create a life-changing moment for a student or teacher. This is the season of making and sustaining memorable connections!

What do you most look forward to when you’re back at school?

At my school, I mentor a group of young men that I call my “school sons.” These young men don’t fit the traditional student mold, but I recognize in them amazing potential beyond their capacity in the classroom. When I’m back at CCHS, I am most excited about seeing my school sons and reminding them that they matter, and that the COVID-19 pandemic cannot stop them from reaching their greatness and full potential.

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