Reflections on first week of being a principal

29 July 2016

After several years of feeling that I had more to contribute in a strategic role than in a classroom, I found myself miserable in a paradise.  Our time in Los Cabos, Mexico, was a time of intense personal and professional growth, but hardly any of it was comfortable.  Most of the time, it was downright painful!  I realized a needed a change, and soon, so began apply for administration jobs in locales and schools that interested me.

We originally were trying to stay within the Spanish-speaking world for our kids’ sakes, but realized that they had progressed with their language skills more than we had expected.  We started looking in other places, and after not having much luck with various coordinator-type roles that I was more than qualified for, decided to apply for principal jobs in some smaller/growing schools.  A friend sent me an advertisement for a secondary principal position in Cambodia, a place we were fairly opposed to going, or really just hadn’t seriously considered, as it just didn’t fit our picture of where we were going next.  However, the school was exactly the type of school I was looking for: growing and young.  After some serious discussions as a couple, we decided to apply.  What could it hurt?

Long story short, I got hired as Secondary Principal.  I was a little surprised to get hired, but after having been here for a week, realize that it’s the perfect fit.  Cambodia, while still very much developing, is along the lines of what we were looking for.  The staff and management at my school are very supportive.  The workload and expectations are manageable and reasonable, yet there is much work to be done to grow the school.  Everyone is happy, positive, and energetic.  What’s not to like? Pretty much everyone at the school speaks English, so my lack of Khmer isn’t so much an issue for now, though I’m learning more every day. 

 A major benefit is something that I hadn’t even considered until after I arrived. My broad dissertation topic for my doctorate at this point is establishing or growing schools in war-torn regions.  Cambodia fits the bill, although it’s several decades past that point.  The effects are still easily seen, though, in too many ways to describe right now.  The obvious context for that dissertation topic is the Middle East, and that very likely will factor in at some point, and we did live in Guatemala for a couple of years after its civil war (what is the deal with so many wars in this world?!). 

We’re very fortunate to have this opportunity, and we plan to make the most of it.  Life is good.