“You’re going to the principal’s office.”

When I was in school – junior high and high school, mostly – I heard these words quite a bit. I wouldn’t say it scarred me for life, though. I don’t remember the reasons for any of my unwanted visits to the principal’s office, but I do remember quite a few positive things about growing up at Exeter Public School. I was blessed with some pretty awesome administrators growing up.

I remember Mr. Evans, our principal, helped organize a hobby show in the small gym for his students. I believe I sold five Bo Jackson baseball cards to Jimmy Mayfield for $10 and thought I hit the jackpot. Mr. Evans brought his model train set; the kids gathered around to see the elaborate setup it in action.

Fast-forward to well over a decade later. I was working at the library, and Mr. Evans came in. I hadn’t seen him in a very, very long time. I was thrilled – not just because of all the wonderful memories of him I have, but that he remembered me. “You were always really smart,” he told me. It made me feel so special.

We talked about Exeter history, and I remembered there was a box of old cassette tapes in the library’s closet. I dug the box out, and in it were bicentennial recordings of Exeter students interviewing local old-timers who have long since passed. What a treasure! Mr. Evans volunteered to take a few home and see if they still worked. He returned a few weeks later, both of us lamenting that the tapes hadn’t survived those decades in storage.

In high school, Mr. Schlueter watched over us. He often randomly called us into his office, just to chat and see if our classes were going well. Mr. Schlueter also routinely told us in cold weather: “Get your coats on.” He scolded us not to “hunt and peck” when we typed, but said it jokingly (which probably reached us better than otherwise). “Hunt and peck” is a term I use to this day.

Now that I’m a grownup (age-wise anyway), I’ve seen many excellent administrators – and several not-so-excellent. In my experience at the York News-Times, the community has been blessed. I was excited this morning when I heard the news that Dr. Bartholomew would be succeeding Dr. Lucas as YPS superintendent. I don’t know Dr. Lucas, but I like him. He’s done some amazing things for YPS, and I know the amazing things will keep coming as YPS shifts leadership roles.

Two things that stick out for me about Dr. Bartholomew are that as YHS principal he has provided me a steady stream of story ideas, and is my go-to man for “word bites.” If you spend any time at YHS, you’ll see his students adore him. (OK, I guess that’s three things.) Dr. Lucas will certainly be missed. My mom, a teacher, said she remembers Dr. Lucas from college, and that even then he displayed positivity and leadership. Dr. Bartholomew will continue bringing positive elements to YPS leadership – including caring about his students, staff and community.

Yes, the York area is lucky; there isn’t enough room in the paper to rattle off all of the York News-Times-area administrative awesomeness. I’ll never forget Ms. Friesen hugging and high-fiving every single elementary student after her NeAESP celebration. Mr. Loosvelt is a dependable fixture at many YPS events – not just YMS. I’ve witnessed area parochial school administrators show their students how much they care about them – all the while helping lead their schools to success.

I don’t know Exeter-Milligan superintendent Mr. Sheffield all that well, or principal Ms. Kroll. In my experiences, they seem delightful, and certainly have my respect. They’ve consistently shown their students how much they care and want them to succeed, and aren’t afraid to do so in their own unique – often innovative -- ways.

I graduated with a minor in Speech Communication, and in our schools see near-textbook examples of my college coursework every day. Brainstorming, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, small group communication… the list goes on. That said, maybe being an excellent administrator goes beyond caring for their students and staff. Maybe it’s about how their message of caring is conveyed.

My hope is that when a student gets told “You’re going to the principal’s office,” they leave that office feeling better than when they went in. If memory serves me, I certainly did – and still do.

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