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Principal Entry Plan

Donnell Cannon
Timeline: First three months
I will get a second chance for many things as a principal, but I will only have one chance to make a first impression.

1. Build RelationshipsData Gathering and Analysis
2. Begin the process of building constructive relationships with the members of our school community.
3. Build a leadership team and plan a two-day leadership retreat

Prior to the start of school, I will present my entry plan as a draft to my administration team for their feedback and
suggestions. I will implement these suggestions as necessary to improve this plan.

Principal Welcome Letter

Greetings North Edgecombe family,

It is with great pride and excitement that I come to you as your new principal. I have the pleasure, privilege, and challenge of
working alongside you this year. I count it an honor to serve with you this year as a partner in this noble and on-going pursuit
to ensure that every child in our school has access to a high quality education. It is my mission to work abreast of you to ensure
that North Edgecombe is a school that inspires academic excellence, leadership, and collaboration. As your leader I will
encourage students to push beyond that which comes easy, and commit to becoming can-do, will try individuals. I will
encourage our teachers to educate in ways that promote creativity, innovation, agility, adaptability, and a passion for learning
through demanding academic rigor, setting high expectations, culturally relevant pedagogy, and productive struggle.
My education experience has been shaped by four successful years as a social studies teacher in Weldon City Schools where I
served in various leadership roles, five years working with the Childrens Defense Fund as a fervent advocate for
disadvantaged youth, and as interim assistant principal at Southeast Halifax High School. Each of these experiences has
provided me with significant and useful insight for educating students.
In each role I fostered a love for learning and teaching and a deep commitment to providing opportunity to all children. As a
school leader, I hope that this year will provide me with unmatched opportunities to learn and grow from meaningful
interactions with each of you. I will do everything in my power to support you as we labor to maximize our impact on student
learning and achievement.
Again, let me emphasize how excited I am to join you this year as an educational partner. I am honored and delighted to serve
with you and I know that this year will be profoundly impactful for each of us! I sincerely believe that our greatest days are
ahead and I am privileged to play a small part in your story of success.
In peace and progress,
Donnell Cannon

Goal # 1: Listen, Learn, and then Lead. Data Collection & Analysis
Build a foundation for school improvement by establishing relationships through learning and listening to North Edgecombes staff
members, district leaders, as well as acquainting myself with the unique strengths and challenges of our school as quickly as possible.
Leverage relationships with staff and students to learn the evolution of the existing culture of the school (e.g. history, culture,
tradition) and unpack findings to guide recommendations for improvement.

Building background: Separating the forest from the trees: Understand the history as quickly as possible. Study and understand how
the school has evolved
Identify our strengths and areas of concern within our school community through listening, taking copious notes, and building

Clarifying Objective:

a) System for tracking findings

During my 3-month listening tour, I will be inundated with a myriad of new information. I will

Objective #1: Collect and

create an organization system to efficiently record my findings. The collected qualitative and
review information, learn
quantitative data will be used during a summer leadership data retreat for recommendations.
district systematic
processes and

Analyzing facts (Existing info)

Prior to my official entry date and until the end of the 2015-2016 academic school year, I will
methodically study and analyze all the information available regarding North Edgecombe High
School to gain a holistic understanding of how the school has evolved. This examination will

Review existing data

provide me with background knowledge about the school that I will need to achieve subsequent
objectives (e.g. guiding questions for individual interviews). During this fact-finding mission I

Set systems and

will study written documents regarding the school, take notes, clarify the information, and study

procedures in place to

my findings.

bolster our strengths and

make improvements
where necessary.

Important documents for review:

Review district calendar to gain a general idea of the time frame of district requirements
School Website
NELA Created NE Resource Binder
Yanisha Manns Google Folder
School Yearbook
2016 TWC Results
Schoolnet data
Accountability data

CNA data

b) Meeting with internal and external support persons.

Meet with key internal and external support persons in order to gage perceptions of NE High School.
After analyzing the existing information about NE High School, I will then attempt to combine my
findings with what others may know. This is an opportunity to create a nexus between the collected data
with the perceptions. Meeting with external support will reveal nuances that were not presented during
my review of existing documents. The meetings will offer more details concerning how issues developed
and how problems were solved.

Key Meetings
Meeting with Supervisor- Yanisha Mann
Meeting with Predecessors- Brian Hopkins, Mr. Batts & Tracy Barnes
Informal Discussion

d) Meeting with support staff

Meeting with support staff will provide an opportunity for me to build relationships with and learn
from individuals who have a very important and unique perspective, because they view the school
through a different lens than the other staff. This is also an opportunity to acknowledge the
importance of their work and to show each person that they are a constituent part of our school.
Meetings with support staff will also help to clarify nuances in my findings and reveal intangible
Send an invitation to each individual
Arrange monthly meetings with each subgroup
Individuals to meet with
Assistant Principal
Office Staff
Food Service Staff
Bus Drivers
School Resource Officers
Staff focus groups (Global Team and School Leadership Team)

Informal Discussion

e) Identify District Mentorship

As a first year principal, it is an imperative to begin quickly networking with other district leaders
to exchange ideas, evaluate the demands of the job, discuss how to induce change at our schools,
and seek collegial support. As I anticipate a steep learning curve within the first year of the
principalship, it is important that I identify an experienced school leader who may continuously
offer professional support and to guide me down a pathway to success. Moreover, a mentor will
provide me with the opportunity for reflective conversations, emotional and moral support, and a
guiding force.

Objective # 2:

Reach out via email to all Edgecombe County High School Principal (Batts-THS, Craig

Harris-SWEHS, and Matt Smith-EECHS)

Ask Supervisor about effective principals
NELA Cohort I, II, and III principals

a) Teacher Individual Interviews

Identify member of the school who have served in an advisory capacity to the principal. This

Conduct teacher and

group will comprise a cross-section of school leaders. I will first meet with these key individuals

student interviews:

to understanding the workings of the school and exhume viable insight regarding school history

Identify and become

(see individual interview questions). This group will help me to make critical connections between

acquainted with teacher

past practices and the direction I will take when leading the school for the first time. Subsequently,

leaders and other

I will meet with every teacher in the building for 20mins each. Meeting with teachers will begin

important members of

building trust, relationships, and to complete a deeper analysis of the internal culture. This is also

our school staff. Find out

an opportunity to gain an understanding of what each teacher believes and practices.

Ideas for building relationships:
I will host a happy hour for all staff, where we will have some time as a staff to socialize

what these individuals

need to do their best and

find out what areas of

and get to know each other in a more leisurely manner.

End of year staff retreat
Staff meeting team building exercise

concern they have for our


Things to do

Getting to know you email

Have teacher complete an expanded typical information card ( Google Forms)
Send letter home to teachers families

Teacher Focus Groups
PLC visits
Observations and Walk-Throughs
Informal discussion

b) Meet with School Improvement Team

Meet with School Improvement Team to discuss our school improvement plan. This meeting will
provide a pulse check to inform us about what our strengths and weaknesses are and aid in the
modification and fulfillment of our school improvement plan.

c) Student Interviews and Survey

As a school leader I understand the importance of visibility. Each day I will make an asserted
effort to build relationships with students by engaging students in colloquial dialogue to build
relationships and trust as expeditiously as possible.
During my interviews with teacher leaders, I will ask questions regarding student culture to
ascertain whom among the student body are seen as leaders. The students identified will be added
to my interview schedule, to be interviewed within the first month of school (see individual
interview questions). I will also select a focus group of seniors to interview regarding school
improvement and student culture.
At this meeting, I will introduce myself and have an open forum for discussion of the state of our
school. I will use the focus group questions (see interview section) that I have developed as a
template for this dialogue. I will also establish a means by which the students may underscore any

Form student focus groups to discuss the issues raised in the survey. Have a few students watch teacherled focus groups and have those students lead other focused groups.
Student surveys- SLC- student learning conditions. http://eval.fi.ncsu.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2013/06/2011-SLCS-with-Pilot-1.pdf
Tentative: Schedule grade level meetings for all students in the auditorium where I will introduce
myself as the schools new leader. I will use this opportunity to share my story of self, as well as
share my core values and beliefs. These meetings will be held during the week after my arrival by
cohort group.
Student Focus Groups
Classroom Visits
Informal Discussion
Goal # 2: Begin the process of building constructive relationships with the members of our school community.
Objective # 1: Meet the
a) Meet with key community stakeholders during my listening tour. At this meeting, I will introduce
parents, community

myself and have an open forum on the state of our school. I will use the focus group questions (see

stakeholders, teachers

interview section) that I have developed as a template for this dialogue.

from feeder school and

elementary school in
order to listen to their
concerns and build

Key Community Stakeholders

Big Jims staff members
Principal and 8th grade teachers of Phillips Middle School
Meeting with Coker-Wimbley administration
Local Church Elders
Law enforcement


b) Introduction to parents
Send out a ConnectEd message to parents introducing myself, my core values and beliefs, It is important
that parents are kept abreast in the transition of leadership. This will serve as an initial introduction until a
meet and greet date has been scheduled.
Parents will also receive a letter of introduction via email within the first few weeks of my entry. The
principal letter will also be posted on the schools website.
Bus ride home with students to see the community in which they dwell and to meet parents.
c) Parent Social
I will set a date for community and parent social which allow parents and other key stakeholders to meet
with administration and share what is working and areas of concerns. At this meeting, I will introduce
myself and have an open forum on the state of our school. I will use the focus group questions (see
interview section) that I have developed as a template for this dialogue.
Cookies and Coffee
Ice cream Social

Objective # 2: Build

a) I will identify the community partnerships that we have in place at our school.
b) Reach out to other local community members and businesses to increase our local partnerships.

connections and

c) Invite new and returning partners to leadership retreat (see goal) to discuss our vision for the school

relationships with our

year. At this meeting I will ask for the continued support from these community partners and establish a

greater community

means by which these members can communicate with the school.

members and supporters.

Goal # 3: Leadership Team and Retreat

Objective # 1: Create a
a) Identify a cross-section of school leaders to serve on the Leadership team. This may constitute a team
Leadership team and

that already functioned in that role during my predecessors term. This may be a group of school leaders

invite individuals to a

who represent other member of the staff (Department leaders).

Identify way to compensate the members for meeting with me. I will plan a full day to meet with the

summer leadership retreat

Leadership Team. I will also decide on a date that the leadership team will meet to discuss findings.
Provide Food
Small Token of appreciation
c) Call, email, and/or invite each to participate at the leadership retreat. I understand that everyone is not
always available to meet during the summer, so I will send out the invitation as far ahead as possible so
that members may adjust their calendars.
d) Create an agenda with specific time frames for discussion. This will be an opportunity to share all facts

as I found them. As part of the agenda, the team will agree on confidentiality. The items will be discussed
Objective # 2: Meet with

individually and team members will be asked for their perceptions of my findings.
a) Discuss perceptions I received from individual interviews, review test scores, school improvement plan,

Leadership Team to

and discuss philosophy of school irrespective of test scores. This is an opportunity to unpack all of my

review findings from

findings from the first 3months of observation.

c) The leadership team will be asked to brainstorm each of the issues that need immediate attention and

hard data, identify the

list them on a chart. Then we will identify the top three issues that the team and I agree need attention.
key issues to approach
during the coming school
year, and plan for the
beginning of school year.

We will then identify solutions and the people who could help with resolutions.
Minutes from the meeting will be emailed out to all staff. This informs staff on the decisions being
made, and describes proposed suggestions.
c) Discuss plan for first staff meetings and theme-driven preplanning days

*During each interview, I will take copious notes.

Persons to be interviewed within the first three months of school:



My predecessors

All teachers

Support Staff- Maintenance, Custodians, Security, bus drivers and Cafeteria workers

Each member of the administrative team, including assistant principals, and counselor.

Parent organization leaders (for any and all parent organizations established).

Each of the school leaders identified in my initial interviews of staff.

Each of the student leaders identified in my interviews of staff.

Head of Maintenance, Security, and Cafeteria.

Anyone else who I am advised to get to know.

Other district school principals

High School Director

Community Stakeholders

Focus groups to meet with and interview:

The administrative team.

The building leadership team (department coordinators, head librarian, etc.)

Each department within the school.

The parent organizations (including minority parent groups).

Pre-existing school teams.

First year and probationary teachers.

Clerical staff.

All athletic coaches.

Community Partners.

Interview Questions for Individuals:

Guiding questions for High School Director
1. What is your perception of the school as a whole?
2. Describe the areas within the school that you believe I should concentrate on.
3. I now I am new to the school and I have a lot to learn. As the new kid on the block, I trust will you view me as an eager
learner and indulge me as I ask a lot of questions?
4. What is the chain of command if I run into a problem at school?
5. I have a crabby parent. At what point in the process of handing this person do you want to be informed?
6. What is the relationship between school board members and principals and teachers?
7. Can you anticipate issues that could happen at the school and tell me what things I should be careful about?
8. What is the relationship of the school to the business community?
9. Could you recommend someone I can go to so that I dont always have to ask you so many questions?
10. What advice could you give me
Guiding questions for counselor

Is the placement of students in classrooms clearly defined

What are the criteria for placing students in class?
Who makes the decision on student placement
Who is in charge of the master schedule?


What do you believe about the schools practice?

What percentage of the students is assigned to special programs?
Where do the students typically go when they transfer?
What are the demographics surrounding the school?
Typically, where do the students go after school?

Guiding questions for predecessors

1. What issues have haunted the school forever?
2. How long were you at the school?
3. Why did you leave?
4. If you had to remain at the school, what would your priorities include?
5. What are the greatest strengths in the school?
6. What are the greatest challenges in the school?
7. How have the demographics of the community changed I the last 5 years?
8. Were you planning to dismiss any staff member this year? Who? Why?
9. Where is the documentation that I can use to continue this process?
10. Are there any staff members who gave you a particular amount of grief?
11. Who were they, and what were the circumstances?
12. Who were the curriculum leaders in the school?
13. Describe the EC program?
14. Whom did you count on as the schools cheerleaders?
15. What is the schools claim to fame?
16. Talk to me about the staff in the front office, including their strengths and concerns.
17. In whom can I confide and know they will not break confidence?
18. What could cause me to get into trouble?
19. How much support can I expect from my supervisor?
20. Did you select any programs for low-performing students?
21. What specific tasks were assigned to the AP?
22. Overall, what advice can you give me?

Assistant Principal
1. What jobs have you been assigned?
2. Are these jobs the same ones you want to continue for this coming year? Why or why not?
3. What are your career goals?
4. Where do you see yourself in two years?
5. What are your strengths? Are those talents utilized at the school? Could they be used? How?
6. In what areas do you face the greatest challenges? Why?
7. Describe a typical day.
8. In your perfect world would you change anything about this school? What? Why?
9. What things would you not change? Why?
10. Are there any staff members we need to worry about? Who are they?
11. What is the problem? What were the plans to help them?

Administrative Secretary

How long have you been in this position?

What jobs were you assigned?
Who ask you to perform other tasks or jobs besides the principal? What are those jobs?
If there is a need to contact someone to fix a maintenance problem that the custodian cant, who usually does that?


What is the procedure for making that contact?

Explain how fire drills are conducted. Who keeps track of them?
Help me understand the office operations? Are you considered the office manager as well?
Do you feel that the office staff is a cohesive team? If not, why not?
I am going to meet with others on the office staff. What can I expect may be the concerns that they share?
What advice would you give me about working at the school?

Universal Questions/Getting to know you guiding questions:

1. What are your favorite hobbies or activities outside of school?
2. What is your favorite part of your job?

3. What is the distance from your home to the school?

4. Tell me about your family.
5. How long have you been at the school? If more than five years, what keeps you here?
6. What motivated you to teach your current grade or subject?
7. What is the philosophy of the school?
8. What is the greatest challenge in your classroom?
9. What is the greatest strength of this school?
10. Describe your team for me. What are the team strengths?
11. In what areas would you like to see improvement?
12. Do you have a particular role on your team? Are you the cheerleader, the organizer, thinker, what?
13. How many times did my predecessor visit your classroom on an informal, learning walk?

Additional getting to know you questions:

1. How are you? How long have you been a part of our school community?
2. Do you have any children in our school/ system?
3. What makes our school great?
4. What is holding our school back from being better?
5. Who inspires you here?
6. Who can you count on here to get things done?
7. What are your expectations of me? How can I help support you to be your best?
8. What basic beliefs and values do you have that drive the work that you do?
9. What role does race play in our school/ how are racial differences viewed here?
10. How would you like us to communicate this year?

11. What else should I know? /What advice do you have for me?
12. I want you to know that my job is to support you. What does that mean to you? In other words, what can I do that
would make you feel supported?

Three or 4 (or 5) questions you should ask each person:

1. Whats working? Going well? (Things we should keep doing). Our strengths.

What needs to be changed? Improved?


What do you expect from me as your principal?


Is there anything else you think I should know?

An additional (riskier) question you could ask but it would need to come before #3, is the following:
If there were no restrictions (on money, time, talent) what three changes would you make in the school right now that you
believe would make a positive impact on student achievement?