When you think of accountability, what comes to mind?

For some, it may be a reprimand or negative consequence for falling short of an expectation or goal. For others, it may be viewed as a coaching opportunity. Either way, accountability is a good thing when creating a positive culture.

According to, accountability is an assurance that an individual or an organization will be evaluated on their performance or behavior related to something for which they are responsible. According to leadership coach and college professor Jack Slavinski, there are eight principles of accountability, so it’s a very complex skill to learn. Yes, accountability is a skill that is developed with consistent practice. The eight principles are:

I work in the Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical School District, and we have four core values:

Our leadership team constantly talks about and works hard to model our core values to ensure they are more than just words on a poster. We infuse them when developing new systems, some of our teachers use them to create shared expectations with students in classrooms, and our PBIS Team has designed lessons to teach them to students.

A few years ago, we collaboratively described what our values look like in action, but since then, we have several new leaders, teachers, and other staff members, so we are in the process of redefining each value to ensure organizational understanding and alignment. The more alignment, the stronger our culture will be.

Thinking about the importance of accountability reminds me of a video about a custodian at a middle school who had to find a way to solve a complex problem that cost him time and effort. As you watch the video, think about the eight principles of accountability and consider which ones he applied. Then, ask yourself, “Which of the principles am I strongest at, and which one is an area of improvement?” Then, decide what you will do about it to improve your classroom, department, or building culture.



Get your copy of Be GREAT: Five Principles to Improve School Culture From the Inside Out here!

“Sunday Seven”

In late July, I was featured in the Dave Burgess Consulting (DBC) Sunday Seven, a weekly series highlighting seven interesting facts about authors who publish with DBC, Inc or IMPress Books. Following are the Seven Sunday facts I shared on that website:

The Bowtie
The bowtie has become a signature look for me. It started when my wife asked me to wear a bowtie for my daughter’s first birthday party nine years ago. It took me about three weeks of practicing after watching a YouTube tutorial by Charles French. Hours before the party started, I still didn’t know how to do it. Panicking, with 30 minutes to spare, I gave it one more try and the rest, as they say, is history! I liked the look and joined in the #BowTieTuesday movement. Now I wear a bowtie every day to work. It’s a symbolic gesture of my love for my family!

Favorite GIFs
It brings me joy to celebrate others, so when someone tweets about something they’ve accomplished, I reply with one of my two favorite GIFs!

Life Changing Life-Hack
I was a two-sport collegiate athlete. After graduating, I thought I’d continue working out, but life seemed to get in the way. As I’ve gotten older, I want to improve my fitness to be active with my daughter. Nearly three years ago, I committed to working out every day after watching a TEDx Talk by Dr. Ogie Shaw called Winning the Mental Battle of Physical Fitness and Obesity.

Dr. Shaw makes these key points:
-“Eat for nutrition, never eat for weight loss.”
-“It’s easier to work out seven days a week than three days a week. Three days a week gives too many decisions.”

The day after I listened to Dr. Shaw, I worked out first thing in the morning and have done so every day since. If I can do it, you can do it. Get started today!

Favorite Podcasts
I listen to a podcast when I work out and drive to work. I love listening to others’ stories. I listen to their cadence and what they want the listener to gain from their story. Many podcasts are not related to education because it’s essential to gain perspectives from various professions to look for ways to innovate our work. I have about fifteen different podcasts in my library, but my favorites are:
The Moth
Hidden Brain
Snap Judgement

Character Strengths
Several years ago, I met a college professor and leadership coach named Jack Slavinski. I hired him to work with my leadership team, and he introduced us to the VIA Character Strength Assessment. This free assessment provides valuable information about our strengths and how we interact with others. I highly recommend you take the assessment to learn more about your signature strengths and how knowing them can impact how you interact and work with others.

Most Impactful Life Lesson
I wish I had learned this sooner, but I’m thankful the lesson came when it did. It’s pretty simple:

My Favorite Education Conference
It’s the Jostens Renaissance Global Conference! The #JRGC is the premier conference about school climate and culture for educators and students! It’s the one conference I MUST attend yearly because I return rejuvenated, energized, and equipped to start a new school year. I’ve met some of the most amazing educators through being a part of the Jostens Renaissance community, and I’m a much better educator because of Jostens Renaissance.



Get your copy of Be GREAT: Five Principles to Improve School Culture From the Inside Out here!

The Trusted Adult

I am the Director of Student Support Systems for the Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical School District. It’s my second year in this role, and I absolutely love my team, the work, and our focus on the whole child.

We have a laser-like focus on creating the best conditions to engage, enrich, and equip students every day in every experience, and one of the best ways to do that is for each of us to be a trusted adult for at least one student.


Trusted adults provide psychological safety, so students feel safe, procedures as consistent, and routines and behavior are predictable. When that occurs. students thrive!

In the movie Man of Fire, Creasy (played by Denzel Washington) was a down and suffering officer who lost his purpose in life until he met Pita. Pita was a young girl who lacked confidence and was a bit timid. Together, they formed a bond that allowed Pita to improve her self-esteem, gain confidence, and improve her performance as a swimmer. One of my favorite scenes is Pita’s swim meet. To prepare Pita for the meet, Creasy identified what she needed and used specific strategies to help change what she experienced in the water and life.

Watch the video clip below and focus on what the nun says to Creasy and what you notice about the relationship between Creasy and Pita. We don’t have to be our students’ world to have an impact; we just have to show we care for them, believe in them, and want the best for them.

How will you establish trusting and positive relationships with your students this year? How will you do the same with your colleagues? Better relationships lead to a more profound commitment to the work and more positive outcomes.

I discuss the importance of positive relationships and other guiding principles in my latest book, Be GREAT: Five Principles to Improve School Culture From the Inside Out. Get your copy today!

Be Great,


The Worst Mistake I Made As Principal

Being a school principal is equally challenging and rewarding. It’s challenging because of the number of leadership and management decisions that must be made daily, shifting expectations and demands, and the relentless amount of information that is taken in and requested at such a rapid pace. These are just signs of hyper-change and the new normal.

The principalship is rewarding because of the countless opportunities to impact the lives of so many people on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. I’ve been reminded of this quite a bit the last couple of months in the form of seeing former students who share a memorable story or a kind word I may have spoken to them in passing. Or, from invitations to their graduation parties and other life moments such as weddings (Yes, I am at the stage in my life where I attend weddings of former students).

When I was a principal, I immersed myself in the work. I looked forward to attending sporting events, concerts, plays, awards ceremonies, and the like. However, when I became a father, I struggled internally with wanting to be at the multiple school events and being home with my daughter. I never really found the proper balance… What an ugly feeling.

I enjoyed preparing for parent and community events, staff meetings, and professional learning opportunities. I enjoyed discussing the work with my administrative team during our weekly team meetings, or during informal conversations throughout the day (and night). I especially enjoyed visiting classrooms and still regret not creating opportunities to get into classrooms more. It’s a demanding job and one that requires a great deal of emotional, mental, and physical stamina.

Being a principal is also a public position, and in today’s world of total transparency and desire for immediate information, nearly every decision is scrutinized, discussed, debated, and analyzed.

Professionally, my wife is also somewhat of a public figure. Over the years, she’s had several clients and coworkers who had children in the schools where I was the principal. Often times, she would be approached by a client or a coworker and asked about something that may have occurred at school or why I made a particular decision. I was always aware of this possibility and didn’t want to put her in a tough position where she had to respond to such questions. To protect her from such scrutiny, I decided that I would not talk to her about most things that happened at school. I’d either talk to a principal friend in another state, talk to my team about it, or simply not talk about it at all. My philosophy was ignorance is bliss.

For the most part, this strategy seemed to work. However, after being away from the principalship for a year and learning more about myself, I realize that the worst mistake I made as a principal is that I DIDN’T share my work with her; the good, the bad, the beautiful, or the ugly. I simply just didn’t talk about it, and I thought I was doing it to guard her against others who clambered for “insider” information, but it prevented us from connecting about an essential part of my life: my role as a principal. Since then, I’ve learned three key lessons about the importance of talking about the principalship with your spouse or significant other:

1. It creates opportunities connection. Studies show that, on average, we spend about a third of our lives at work. That’s A LOT of time creating shared experiences, celebrations, going through trials and disappointments, and making an impact. This world should be shared with your spouse or significant other.

2. It creates opportunities for compassion. The feeling of walking through a situation with someone creates closeness, understanding, and empathy.

3. It improves communication. The opportunity to share a significant part of your life without judgement, ridicule, and complaint can be comforting and is much needed. It reminds me of the video, It’s Not About the Nail. While funny, there is so much truth in the message.

I encourage you to share your work with your spouse or significant other. Be transparent about the exciting ideas or projects you’re working on, challenges you may be facing, or opportunities for growth that are on the horizon. You’ll be a better leader and spouse because of it. You need that, and they need it as well.

Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and celebrations in the comment section. Thanks!

Be Great,