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Catholic Schools Week 2018 - Lead

Written by Margie Marshall, Principal of St. Juliana School and member of the Center for Transformational Educational Leadership on Thursday, 01 February 2018.

Catholic Schools Week 2018 - Lead

To celebrate National Catholic Schools Week, we are sharing four reflections centered around the themes of "Learn, Serve, Lead, and Succeed." Today's reflection on "Lead" comes from Margie Marshall, the Principal at St. Juliana School in Chicago and a member of the Center for Transformational Educational Leadership.


During my first year as a Catholic school teacher, whenever I complained about a challenge at school, a close friend and fellow teacher used to say, “We didn’t sign up for easy.” As I lead a school, I am often reminded of this, as every day presents a new challenge. While I can rarely use the word “easy” to describe my profession, I don’t think I would want to, as there is so much good that comes from the challenges of school leadership. 

Each day I am lucky enough to interact with hundreds of smiling children who are truly happy to come to school. I am touched by the kindness and generosity they show to one another, day in and day out. I am inspired by their willingness to forgive and the ease with which they see Jesus in one another. As I visit classrooms, I witness students coming together to complete assignments, share ideas, and help each other learn. I see excitement and joy as they master a difficult concept, and I hear thought-provoking discussion and reflection as they consider new and different viewpoints. 

It can be easy to forget about these moments as I go through my endless to-do list each day: responding to emails, completing paperwork, and managing the many parents, staff members, and stakeholders who ask for a minute of my time. However, these moments with the students are why I do this work; they are the motivation behind all I do. 

With these students in mind, I strive to view obstacles in light of the opportunities they bring, rather than the difficulties they present. Balancing the budget can be a chance to use every dollar available to improve our curriculum and provide our students with the resources they deserve. Discussing a classroom observation with a teacher is a way to share a new strategy that will improve student learning. Conversing with an angry parent is an occasion for collaboration for the good of that particular child. None of this work is easy, but I do believe it is a privilege and a blessing. I am rewarded daily as I share in the joys and successes of my students, and their smiling faces make it all worthwhile. They are the reason that I do this work and that I love leading a Catholic school.


Learn more about the Center for Transformational Educational Leadership at ace.nd.edu/transform

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