Each year as a secondary principal brings about new challenges, experiences, and opportunities, and this year in particular is very personal for me. My eldest daughter is a senior, and as cliched as it sounds, time has flown by. Just yesterday, my little girl was a month old as I took my first teaching job. Today, she is a senior walking the hallways on a countdown to graduation. It’s personal because while I need to be a principal for the 335 students at Milford High School, I also want to be a dad and enjoy all of the experiences that come with having a senior.

With the demands of principalship, I believe our own children often take a back seat at times to the needs of other students and their families. From early morning meetings, community groups, conferences and daily responsibilities to late-night activities, there are days where the only time we see our own kids is walking out the door in the morning and kissing them goodnight when they are already sleeping. You learn to take advantage of the moments that you do have together.

Nothing beats getting to be in the same building each and every day and live the experience of high school with your own kids. It may be a short hello as they come in the building in the morning, a “Hey dad, can I have a few dollars for a snack?” between classes, or a conversation during lunch with her and her friends as they wait for the bell to ring, but I treasure these moments. I know it won’t be long,

and she will be off to college and into the world we have tried to prepare her for over the past 18 years. I cherish each of these moments as much as I can.

Educators often talk about the need for positive and encouraging relationships with our students and staff, yet when it comes to the most important relationships of all, our families, we sometimes neglect to put the same effort into them as we spend on our jobs. We can’t forget to take care of ourselves and those that matter the most to us.

So when it comes to making it personal, please do! If you are fortunate enough to get to be in the same building as your own kids, nieces, nephews, or family friends, enjoy those small moments that matter the most. Find a system that works for you and your family, because before you know it your kids will be grown-ups and writing stories of their own.

How can you maximize and prioritize your time with your own families? What family traditions or customs do you value? Do you set aside time each week or month that is strictly meant for connecting and bonding with your family? It’s personal.

Brandon Mowinkel is the principal at Milford Jr/Sr High School in Milford, NE, where he has spent his entire career, having previously served as the industrial technology teacher and an assistant principal. He is the 2017 Nebraska High School Principal of the Year. Follow him on Twitter (@bmowinkel).


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