In this week’s podcast, Bill Daily, the dynamic principal of St. Mary Magdalen School in San Antonio, shared his simple explanation of “what he does” as principal. First, a side note. Principals are often challenged to explain what they do with their time. Students see them in their offices. Teachers wonder what they do all day. And parents wonder why they can’t answer their queries immediately.
“Smile and pray,” said Daily. That’s it. Sounds a little like the Madagascar penguins from the movies. But let’s break it down a bit.
Smiling is infectious. It sends the message that the leader is happy and hopeful. Coming into a challenging school situation, Daily was able to communicate hope in the future. And many principals get wrapped up in the daily challenges and administrivia. Often principals complain about their jobs. It’s difficult to do that when you’re smiling. Smiling communicates a mindset of hope as well as satisfaction. This reassurance is essential in times of uncertainty.
Praying also communicates a mindset of hope and of confidence. The school community can see that the school leader is not relying only on him/herself to solve all problems. It’s a collaborative effort. Praying also prioritizes faith as central to the Catholic school. Sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it?
However, I know principals who don’t stop when prayer comes over the intercom. If you’re too busy for prayer, what message does that send? I’ve also met principals who can’t make it to All-School Mass. Again, what message does that send?
Smile and pray.
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