Leading the Leaders | The Breakthrough Coach
A CONVERSATION WITH:
Trina Rich, Executive Director of Elementary Education,
Cherry Creek School District, Englewood, CO

Leading the Leaders

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

Have you always wanted to be an educator?

TRINA RICH:

I didn't originally intend to go into education, but was drawn into teaching because education was the "family business." My father is a retired middle-school principal and my brother is a deputy superintendent for a large district in Michigan. I now have an M.A. in Curriculum Leadership and have been with the Cherry Creek School District for 25 years.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

Was administration a career goal from the beginning?

TRINA RICH:

Initially, administrative work was not a professional goal. I taught elementary school for 6 years. When I was in meetings, I found myself enjoying the strategic planning and problem-solving that were specific to school-related issues. My colleagues encouraged me to go into administration. I began as an assistant principal, spent five years as principal of an elementary school (where I was the only administrator for 630 students and 70+ staff), and then moved on to another elementary school with over 500 students.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

Your first assignment as a principal presented a real challenge. How did you deal with it?

TRINA RICH: p>During the first two years, I managed everything in my head! My office felt chaotic - there was "stuff" everywhere. I needed at least six working days to get things done. No complaints though - I thought this just came with the job.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What brought you to TBC?

TRINA RICH:

During my third year as principal, the executive director of the Colorado Principals' Center (CPC) invited Malachi Pancoast to present an introductory session for the Center's board. I attended, was excited by Malachi's unique approach to educational administration, and enrolled in the 2-Day Program, along with my secretary.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

When did TBC's approach "click" for you?

TRINA RICH:

Right from the beginning. The things Malachi said about school management in his overview presentation just made perfect sense. When I took the two-day seminar, I really internalized the three basic principles of The Breakthrough Coach Management Methodology™:

  • Empower your secretary to run the front office - she's much better at it than you are;
  • Maintain your office impeccably - there should be nothing to distract from your priorities;
  • Keep your word; stick to your schedule, and do what you say you're going to do, no matter what; the ability to keep your word is fundamental to building trust with teachers and staff.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

How did your new approach work?

TRINA RICH:

It was unbelievable! By the time I was in my second principalship, I found I was able to spend on average 3 days each week in the classrooms and knew every one of the 500 kids in that school. When a principal becomes an instructional leader and focuses on instruction, the impact on student achievement is overwhelmingly positive.

  • I was able to head off issues before they arose;
  • I could interact effectively with parents, who were thrilled that I actually knew their child;
  • I was able to build respect and trust because I was out in the classrooms, knew what was going on, and knew all my students and teachers.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

Bring us up to date about where you are now.

TRINA RICH:

I am now in my second year as an Executive Director for the Cherry Creek School District, which is comprised of 40 schools. I supervise 13 elementary schools. It's different from being a site principal, certainly, but TBC's methodology is still invaluable to me. By applying it, I am able to get to each of my 13 schools on an average of twice a month.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

Do you refer to TBC when you work with the principals in the schools you supervise?

TRINA RICH:

Definitely! I emphasize the effectiveness of TBC principles and strategies particularly, as they relate to time management. I strongly encourage and support our new principals and secretaries to attend TBC's 2-Day Program. Principals cannot receive training like TBC offers anywhere else. Principal preparation programs just do not teach time management and its relationship to student achievement! New principals must learn that one cannot get everything done on his/her own; that training, developing and empowering others will produce an effective teaching staff; and effective time management enables the principal - who is the primary instructional leader - to be 'on the field' where the game is being played. In the case of school principals, that's in the classroom!pack