Simon Bailey is CEO of Simon T. Bailey International, an education company specializing in creative learning, and a Thought Leader at the National Principals Conference in July. In this month’s questionnaire, we asked about improvements in education, inspiring teachers, and his favorite movie star.

What are three key takeaways for secondary school principals on creative learning and development? 

#1: Understand the learning style of every student.

#2: Partner with teachers in different subjects to identify key strategies to personalizing learning. 

#3: Look at other industries for best practices that can be incorporated into the classroom experience that make learning fun, relevant, and engaging. 

Can you draw comparisons between helping schools and helping hospitality companies to succeed? 

Yes, schools and hospitality are all about one thing—creating an experience that is memorable. Every single day that the doors of a school are open, there is an emotional connection, and memories are being created on a daily basis. Hospitality is all about service; education is also about service, and when done properly, moments and memories are created that are cherished for a lifetime. 

What most needs improvement in today’s educational system? 

#1: Create a school culture where everyone thrives—principals, teachers, parents, and students.

#2: Ensure that parents and students are empowered to know what success looks like for the student.

Who is your favorite movie star?

 Anthony Hopkins, because he makes you think. He makes what he does seem effortless. 

Who was the most inspiring teacher you ever had?

My most inspiring teacher was Ms. Rita Lankes. She inspired me 32 years ago to write a speech and give it before the entire school assembly. Her imprint shaped the foundation for what I have been doing for the last 15 years. 

What is your favorite sports team? 

The Buffalo Bills, because they went to four straight Super Bowls; they will win another one in my lifetime. 

Who’s the best leader in the United States today?

The best leaders in the United States are parents who, every single day, take their kids to a school for education and follow up with their children to make sure they are engaged and become productive citizens. 

What is your favorite book? 

My favorite book right now is The End of Average by Todd Rose. The tagline is “How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness.” The takeaway is that for many decades, children have been graded and taught to be average, to not break out and become the most brilliant person they can possibly be. Rose provides tools to help all of us break free. 

What’s your motto? 

A paycheck is given to people who show up; opportunities are given to people who work beyond what they are paid to do.