The Principal Collaborative Event This Month Brought BBQ, Camaraderie, Saints Tickets, and a Surprise from Mayor Cantrell

Nationally, around 20% of principals leave their roles each year. Their role is critical and rewarding, but it can be challenging, and at times, isolating.

We are committed to addressing this in New Orleans – and one way we do so is by making sure our principals feel supported, connected, and cared for. So last week, we invited our city’s school leaders to join us at Central City Barbeque for some good food, drink, and fellowship with one another. It’s part of an initiative we launched last year called The Principal Collaborative – events and opportunities for school leaders to collaborate and come together. We find they’re eager for this type of event – on a busy week in November, over 40 principals joined us, representing roughly half of all principals citywide.

Together, they shared a good meal and started building and strengthening relationships. High school leaders mingled with middle and elementary school principals, and veteran educators sat with newer ones. They talked through common challenges they faced and offered each other solutions. They commiserated about all that’s been so tough over the past few years, and they also made one another laugh. It was incredible to watch – we’d planned to lead principals in a structured activity to get to know each other and trade ideas, but we didn’t need to. They were doing it powerfully and organically, so we just gave them the space and time.

We were joined that night by three special guests – Orleans Parish School Board President Ethan Ashley, Jeff Hundley, CEO of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell. They talked about how much they admired school leaders, and how they knew they were working so hard. They insisted to principals that they deserved to care for themselves just like they cared for others.

To facilitate some of that self-care, we were pleased to hand out some amazing raffle prizes to our principals, including tickets to a Saints game, a Pelicans game, a catered lunch and a 90-minute massage. Mayor Cantrell brought the biggest surprise of the night when she stepped in to offer her own great prize for two educators – VIP tickets to the Saenger theater for any shows the winners choose.

We were thrilled by the showing at this event, and we were pleased that as feedback started coming in, it seemed the message of appreciation and self-care had made a mark. Our principals wrote: 

My self-care is just as important as those I serve and there are others who care about my self-care and well-being.”

“You all have a lot of love for principals and educators. You believe in self-care and you care about us.”

“We have more support than I knew about.”

“Thank you all for creating space for school leaders to convene and converse in an informal manner. Perfect.”

“Citywide support – hearing from government and business leaders about their support for schools and school leaders was reassuring and inspiring.”

We know that supporting principals is an ongoing effort. We’ll bring this community together again in January for smaller-group meetings designed around sharing and developing best practices. We are hopeful about the potential of this meeting, and the collaborative as a whole. We believe that when principals collaborate, their work grows stronger and more manageable at once. We also believe that as they do that work, they deserve the same care and support they show others. We are grateful for the chance to help provide it. 

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