Educator Spotlight: Reflection from a First Year Principal (Steven Pesek)

This past year, I had the wonderful opportunity to move to the elementary level from middle school as an assistant principal. It was a privilege to work with an administrator I previously worked with and it was his first year as a a principal. I hope to one day have the experience of being a first year principal and I was curious to know what his big takeaways were from the year. Thankfully, Steven Pesek was happy to sit down and share a little about himself and his reflections from the past year.

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Shiner, Texas in 1980 to Lawrence and Beverly Pesek.  My father was 1 of 11 children and grew up farming and picking cotton.  My grandparents worked to make sure that all of their kids had a good education and instilled an attitude of service and dedication.  From the eleven kids three went to college one of those being my father.  My father and mother both went into education.  This attitude from my grandparents trickled down to the grandkids as well.  Out of my 46 cousins 36 went to college.  Some of this could be due to the fact that in the summers my brothers and I worked for roofing companies, construction sites, and farming.  We loved the work but also enjoy air conditioning.  

  • Share with us some of your professional experiences that you have found the most useful in your first year as a principal?

I was able to move within the district to several schools when I was an assistant principal.  This put me at three different buildings in four years.  With this movement I was able to work for three strong administrators with different leadership styles which helped me define what my style was.  The hardest part of this was that I felt like I was unable to build any sustainable programs due to moving.   

  • What has been the greatest lesson you have learned over the past year?
Surround yourself with amazing people.  This job is much too big to take on by yourself if you want to keep your sanity.  I have an amazing team of people that can say no to ideas, change plans for the better, and that take on responsibilities without hesitation.  

  • What would be one word to describe your leadership style?
Collaboration- We have worked to make sure that teachers and students have a voice on campus.  This is a culture that we would like to instill in everyone on the campus.  I would tell you that I have been told in the past not to ask for feedback because you can’t make everyone happy.  While it is true that we are not going to make everyone happy,  we can be open and honest about what we are working on and why.  

  • What advice would you share with a new administrator (assistant principal or principal)?

Schedule your time to be an instructional leader in your calendar and be diligent about keeping those times.  You will lose your day if you allow other things to take priority.  This is by far the hardest thing for my first year.  We even put it on our schedule, but we still let other issues take priority.  So this is something I will continue to work on for year 2.  

  • As you reflect on this past year, what is the one thing you hope your students and staff have gained this past year under your leadership?

Trust.  I hope that the teachers, parents and students feel that they can work with me on an issue.  I want them to know that we are going to listen and that we are going to make decisions in the best interest of the kids.  I want them to be able to tell me when something is not working and be open and honest about problems and solutions.  

Thank you so much, Steven, for sharing your reflections from this past year. It sounds like having a collaborative approach, a growth mindset, and the desire to include teacher and student voice are all vital aspects for success.

We hope you are all having a wonderful summer and have some time to unwind and relax before the most exciting time of year! Don't forget you can follow us on Twitter @meganandmel and  @megangist and @melroseacker


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