I have fallen in love with comic books. With the ability of creators to tell complete stories using text and art, color and space. And, of course, with the superhero. The character that is always brave or strong, selfless and courageous, adaptable, driven, inquisitive. The appeal of the superhero is understandable. The motivations, the skill sets, the weaknesses. All on display. All for consumption, judgment, enjoyment. 

School leaders have their own skill sets. For me, coaching and bringing out the best in my team are essential to my role as a leader. Through empathy, I can show compassion and respect for the people I lead and families and students with whom I work. I place high value on deliberate planning and leading with stability and consistency day after day.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Sage B. Hobbs Coaching during the past three years in a principal leadership program. Communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence are three cornerstones of the program. My work in it is one way that I have come to understand my leadership strengths, and this knowledge will provide areas of focus as I transition from serving as an elementary school principal in Wyoming to a middle school principal in Montana. 

My emotional intelligence strengths as a leader include maintaining and fostering interpersonal relationships, empathy, and impulse control. These are three components of my leadership in the complex system of emotional intelligence. These are snapshots of the leader I am. 

But, of course, I am much more than this. I challenge myself to present authentically each day. 

Part of that authenticity includes identifying as a leader who happens to be in love with a person of the same sex, sharing my life with Maurina, who is also a woman. But I also identify as a leader who listens, relates well with others, and gets things done. 

So, what does Pride month mean to me? It reminds me that my love for Maurina does not define who I am; it is simply a part of who I am. Just as my leadership skills do not define who I am but are simply a part of who I am. Pride month reminds me that being real and authentic is important every day, month, and year. 

It reminds me that school leaders need to be fully present and truly themselves. It reminds me to continue to normalize quality leadership regardless of sexuality. It reminds me to be brave and courageous, which is a core component of high-quality communication. 

These reminders are essential as we stand before students each and every day, some of whom are looking for positive role models who reflect themselves, and as we stand before teachers and staff, some of whom crave realness and truth. 

Pride this year looks like every other year for an emotionally intelligent leader: being empathetic, offering compassion, and relating to people. Pride this year is a chance to be yourself. That is your superpower. 

About the Author

Tiffany L. Rehbein, EdD, is the principal of Washington Middle School in Missoula, MT. She is a member of NASSP’s LGBTQ+ School Leaders Network. 

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