In this month’s questionnaire, Pam Salazar, who spent three decades in public schools in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV, and is the editor of the NASSP Bulletin, answers questions about principal mentoring, her book on leadership, and her favorite movie star. 

What’s your educational philosophy?

Every student can learn at high levels, and all students deserve opportunities to be successful and achieve their potential. Educators are key to students realizing this kind of success, and every student deserves the very best educator-both in the classroom and as head of the school-to make this happen.  

What do new principals need most in terms of mentoring and coaching?

New principals need support to understand cause and effect, specifically, the connection between their actions and teacher effectiveness and student achievement. They typically have strong skills in measuring and monitoring student outcomes, but sometimes more limited skills in measuring and monitoring outcomes related to faculty and administrators.

What’s the secret to creating a high-performing school? 

There are several key practices that are important to creating a high-performing school, but it all starts with beliefs, values, and purpose-principals cannot expect results if there is not a whole school commitment to every student’s success. 

What’s the basic message in your book, High-Impact Leadership for High-Impact Schools?

First, school leadership matters, as the ability of the principal to improve the effectiveness of the school becomes the critical element in determining the kind of impact the school will have on its students. This book is about five key actions principals can take to create powerful learning opportunities for both students and teachers.

What’s the biggest challenge facing principals today?

 The educational challenge of the 21st century is to achieve high levels of learning for each and every student. As increased accountability becomes the norm, leadership becomes more challenging and demanding.  

What is your favorite book and why? 

I love to read, and there are so many great books-twohave really resonated with me. The first is Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, and the second is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. Both reflect remarkable leadership qualities and incredible depths of courage to survive almost unbelievably challenging conditions. They truly reflect the resilience of the human spirit.

What is your favorite sports team and why?

 BMC Cycling—specifically, I follow Tejay Van Garderen—I love pro cycling and am an avid fan of Tour of California and Tour de France.  

Who is your favorite movie star and why? 

Tom Hanks. He is completely believable in all of his roles—he makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you care; he is just real. What’s your motto? Be better than yesterday.