Project Description

A Conversation With

Raine Hackler

Principal, Meeting Street Academy, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Principal Raine Hackler develops high-performing students who rank in the 92nd percentile nationwide. Not unusual in some districts. But Hackler heads up Meeting Street Academy, a Title I elementary school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where the median household income is $9,800 a year and 46% of parents have not graduated from high school. How does he do it? “The piece that really leads it all, honest to God, is The Breakthrough Coach,” said Hackler. “It has transformed my life.”

To learn more, The Breakthrough Coach asked Principal Hackler to explain how. Here are his responses, edited for length.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What was your personal and work life like before you attended The Breakthrough Coach 2-Day Course?

RAINE HACKLER:

My professional life was the direct cause of personal life challenges, without exception. I came home most nights from Meeting Street very late in the evenings, looked my four disappointed sons in their eyes, and offered apologies for missing their basketball and football games, report card conferences, and field trips. I barely had the energy or time to cook, let alone find time for physical activity. On weekends I was never fully “present” at any social or family event.

I carried home my laptop, calendar and file-folders every single day. My mind stayed active most of the night, thinking through the next day’s issues and wondering how I was going to stretch time, human resources and daily operational efficiency. And while I succeeded in creating a happy work environment at school, most of that joy came from my enthusiasm for educating kids.

My office was cluttered with growing stacks of binders, file folders and paperwork. Both of my desktops (virtual and physical) were nesting grounds for volumes of color-coded files that never got filed. Instead, I wrote post-it notes reminding me to clear away a few files each day so I could make room for more.

I knew my teachers well, but not their instructional abilities. I knew my students well, but not their learning abilities. I knew my parents well, but not their specific needs and requests. Worst of all – I really didn’t know my sons all that much as they transitioned from teenagers to young adults.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What convinced you to register for the 2-Day Course and why have you attended multiple times?

RAINE HACKLER:

Knowing me and the details of my crazy life, my close friend, work-mate and supervisor recommended The Breakthrough Coach. She knew I was committed to building capacity in others, managing time effectively, and being a fantastic leader at work and at home. To that end, I’ve been to the 2-Day Course three times and I bring different school leaders with me each time I go, including my deans and assistant principals.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What’s the most important insight you gained from attending the 2-Day Course three times?

RAINE HACKLER:

What one dreams about does not have to remain a dream. Having a highly rewarding professional and personal life can happen with some changes and adjustments – all of which are free!

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

How have you altered your professional practices since the 2-Day Course?

RAINE HACKLER:

I could write a dissertation about this, but here is the condensed version. I have allowed my secretary to take control of, and overhaul, my entire calendar to ensure that I make efficient use of my time in the office, and that I am working far into the future. My secretary also sees to it that I no longer “chase after the bus” every single day. Instead, she has me focused on what really matters in education – the students and the quality of instruction they receive in classrooms.

I shifted my mindset from that of a former award-winning teacher to an award-winning principal and “school executive”. I then successfully infused my leadership team with this new perspective and cross-pollinated all of them with strong Breakthrough Coach practices.

I no longer give my work a free ride home in the car where it might sit all night or weekend. The work remains at school while I sleep peacefully, knowing that my secretary has designated time for me to complete it. Stress is non-existent for me now and my ability to focus and innovate has increased ten-fold.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What’s been the impact of The Breakthrough Coach on your employees?

RAINE HACKLER:

Our school culture and climate are at an all-time high because I make myself abundant in classrooms and available in the building throughout the week. I often laugh out-loud when I contemplate the ease with which I now “observe and give feedback,” knowing that the end result has no doubt been a high-performing team.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What’s been the impact of The Breakthrough Coach on your school’s results?

RAINE HACKLER:

Meeting Street Academy recently received the Palmetto Gold Schools of Excellence Award for the highest test scores and school environment in the state. One of our 4th grade students just received 100% on his state math test. Our students, on average, are two to three grade levels above their peers nationally, with many of our 5th grade students testing out on MAP in the post-12th grade/college levels in Math and Reading. 90-95% of our third, fourth, and fifth grade students are meeting and/or exceeding on their quarterly MAP assessments.

THE BREAKTHROUGH COACH:

What’s been the impact of The Breakthrough Coach on your personal life?

RAINE HACKLER:

I wish my sons were here to answer that question. I am in the best shape of my life! I sleep and eat well. I have ample time in the evenings and on weekends to be with my beloved family and friends. I experience more joy outside of work, which brings more joy into my work on a daily basis. I read books for fun and I no longer fall asleep in matinee movies.

I never asked to be a leader in life. Life just sort of directed me this way with very little choice at times. My inner critic used to gnaw at me: “Maybe you weren’t born to do this work?” Breakthrough Coach helped me shatter that useless, inner, belief system and launch myself into a whole new realm of functioning, thinking and success. I am forever grateful.

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