cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by kevin dooley
Jimmy Casas is my hero.
I was able to sit back, and watch one of the most effective principals I have ever seen in my career. Seeing the pride that he had in every element of his school, whether it was in the displaying of student work throughout the school, ensuring that the floors were so clean that you could eat off of them, or treating every single person in his school like a family member (staff, students, visitors, everyone), I was so impressed with what he was to everyone, and what that led to in his school.
As he ensured that I was checked into my hotel, a former student that worked the front desk refused to shake his hand, because he HAD TO come around and hug him for all that he did to ensure that the kid was successful. The former student told me the story of how he was kicked out of school 3 times, and at 20, he came back and asked for another chance to get his degree and promised he wouldn’t screw up again. He didn’t, and he graduated. It takes a special kind of person to be able to kick someone out of school three times, yet have that same person come back to hug him, and that is the kind of person Jimmy emulates.
I saw this love and care in every interaction Jimmy had, but one moment stood out to me. As they have a “no-hat” policy in the school (which I had been brought up and taught as a sign of respect), Jimmy passed a student wearing one. As he looked at the student, the student smiled and Jimmy said, “If I had the hair you did, I would never wear a hat.” As the student smiled and took it off while surrounded by his friends, Jimmy acted in awe of the student’s beautiful hair and made him feel special in a time where he could have easily embarrassed him in front of his peers. He had the same end result if he would have scolded him, but this way was so much more effective.
As I sat and watched interactions like this over and over again, it reminded me of my parents and how they have always went out of their way to make everyone feel special. I likened Jimmy to my dad, as he acted like a successful restaurant owner that everyone loved because of how he made them feel. Although everyone felt special, they also knew Jimmy had extremely high expectations of them, which I am guessing they meet more often than not.
If every principal and leader carried themselves this way, schools would all be the places we dream of them being one day. Thank you Jimmy for the invitation, but more importantly, the inspiration. You are amazing to people, and that should not be the exception, but the norm.
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