I learned how to build relationships with my students and make the learning material relevant to them, make them excited about it, even students who necessarily didn’t love to learn French or love to learn Spanish. I made them excited about the culture or the food or whatever it was I could to find a connection for them, and most of my students ended up loving the classes. From there, I started to find professional development type things where I was leading professional development for my colleagues, and I realized that people respected the work that I did, they learn from my workshops or my seminars. So, I learned that my skill could be enhanced there and to move to the next level. Again, being an assistant principal, I was very involved with the students and their activities and their day-to-day lives and I loved being an assistant principal. I really really enjoyed that that job. However, the position as principal opened up, and I really wasn’t sure. I was very hesitant about whether I wanted to move into that role, because I love working with students and that’s why I went into teaching in the first place. And I had a mentor say to me that I can make the role as a principal as much about the students as I choose to do. So, I decided I would give it a go, and see if I liked it. And I think as a principal I’m very actively involved in the students’ lives. I know every single student in my school by first name, it’s a small school but I still know everyone by name, I’m very active in their activities: the plays, the sports, the musical events, performances. I spend all three lunches in the lunch room with students every day, I greet students at the front door every morning, I’m in the halls I’m in classrooms, and I’m able to still make the difference in the climate in the school while remaining involved with the students so I like what I do.
Tracey Hippert-Kenny is currently the principal of Leicester High School. She was born in Washington DC in 1972 and grew up in and attended high school in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Tracey moved to Worcester to attend Assumption College as an undergraduate, and then pursued her graduate degree at Worcester State. In this interview, Tracey highlights her evident leadership skills she embodied as a teacher and as the current principal at Leicester High School in Leicester MA. She also describes projects or initiatives that she is taking on in the school, including going one to one with Chromebook devices, and participating in cultural educational exchange programs such as the one in China. Tracey has made education to her daughters a main priority in her home due to her parents enforcing education in her life when she was younger. As a mother and a principal, she reflects on the challenges she has encountered on balancing work, family, and social life, and how she is able to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She also discusses her potential future plans to continue studying abroad in order to learn more about other foreign countries educational systems, as well as furthering her own education.