Leading With a Plan

Author: Amanda Hatton, Principal, Spurger JH/HS

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Failure to plan is planning to fail”?  This happens to be one of my favorite phrases.  Have you ever woken up and just by happenstance reached a weight loss goal?  Have you ever heard of a battle being won by accident with no battle plan?  Have you ever set off on a trip to a foreign destination with no plan and still arrived?  The answer is almost always a resounding NO!

All of these things take purposeful planning to achieve.  You have to state your goals.  You have to discover what roadblocks may come into play.  You then have to create a plan B in case your plan A doesn’t work.

Running a school is similar to all of this.  You must set goals, make checklists, plan calendars and think about all the obstacles and roadblocks to achieving your goals. When I was first hired at Spurger ISD, I immediately knew what I wanted our school’s mission to be!  We needed our students prepared for a postsecondary life.  See, what I realized quickly is that a rural school’s graduating class has many challenges that most larger districts don’t face.  Our students face challenges of location, isolation and visualization.  The closest school to us is 60 miles away and that counts for trade schools and junior colleges as well.  Many students don’t have means of transportation to get to these larger cities let alone be able to picture themselves living away in a city far from home.  So the question became how can we overcome these obstacles to help them be successful in their postsecondary endeavors.  Well, we had to PLAN!!

It starts with the goal: Graduate more students who are college, career or military ready.

Next, how do we do that?  What do they need to be successful?

For us, they needed IBC’s, so that they could work while going to school or start there and then continue their education.  They needed to be completers of programs of study.  They needed to get out and see these places and their options….they needed to be able to picture themselves being there.  They needed help in filling out forms, making resumes, understanding financial aid and to be able to know how many entry and exit points there are to get to their choice of career.

Then finally, strategically plan the course ahead to overcome barriers.  This takes calendars and checklists.

We made checklists to make sure we completed each thing we thought would help our students.  We added soft deadlines and hard deadlines to our calendar to make sure we were accountable to our school and students.  We made staffing changes and created new courses that would help our students achieve each of the goals.

See…we made plans…big, big plans.  We put it on paper, we envisioned it, we put it on calendars, we put it on bulletin boards…..and now, we have 100% of our graduating class completed with their FAFSA and have been accepted to a college.  Guys, that is huge, but it wouldn’t have happened without purposeful planning.  So if you want to succeed, don’t fail to plan, but rather….start planning.

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