Audrey Blanchette - Cohort 5 Resident Principal

These past six months have been a great learning experience for me. I have found myself being able to problem solve on the spot and analyzing the best possible solutions to assist teachers, parents, and students during these tough times. 

In the section of faith, I found myself developing new ways to connect our school site families and students especially to our faith. Since we can not gather for mass, we were able to stream mass services at the Cathedral in Los Angeles and also had prayer services as a community for feast days. Families expressed they enjoyed being offered prayer services as a school community. It made them feel supported during these tough times. 

In the section of stewardship, which I felt was going to be my hardest section to learn to develop, since I lack experience. Once, I learned with the help of the bookkeeper and mentor principal. I was able to see how to analyze the budget. One thing, I was very nervous to do was call parents in regards to delinquency tuition payments. My mentor principal did the first two months so I can observe. I ended up calling the families early December. I focused on the families who were 3-4 months behind in payments along with sending a letter that my mentor principal has used in the past. This helped set up the conversation for payment arrangements when we return back to school. I was able to stay firm with negotiations with the families by giving them until January. It was very clear if a payment was not made and communication was not there, I would have to suspend the student’s distance learning access. I never thought I would be able to make that call or have these hard conversations, but after seeing the tuition income amount from the past month was half of what usually comes in was alarming. Even though we serve a very high poverty community, we do depend on those tuition payments coming in monthly to pay bills, pay staff, and stay in business.

 In the section of excellence, coming from a teaching position I thought I had all the answers. After this first term of grades, I saw with one of my colleagues that there needed to be a big shift in the way grades were being used for mastery. One thing was using the standardized testing  and programs diagnostic test aligned with the students current grades within math and ela. There needed to be an alignment there to show validity of the test and grades. But, like I said after term 1 grades. We saw so many NI grades, which was alarming. One some of the students we had no idea were failing since the teachers had no communication with administration. So we needed to set norms for overall communication with their grade level band teachers, parents, and also administration. So no one was left in the dark. Then, we used sampled assignments from multiple grade levels and subjects and asked the teachers to label them as an assignment where you can measure mastery or measure effort and participation. At first the staff gave us rolling eyes cause we are not the head principal for the school, but after this exercise it really made them look deep into how these students are being measured for mastery in the grade level. So this started the conversation to how grades were really going to be used and this will be able to help with transparent communication with the student and parents that would possibly need improvement in the subject content area. 

I feel that with all that I have learned from my mentor principal and colleagues and especially the directors has helped me grow into a strong, confident administrator. I know I have much to learn and wish I didn’t have to take a break due to maternity. But I know I will be able to adapt and catch up with the help of these extraordinary people who have helped me get to this place of a position I so much desire.