Mickey Reynolds, EdD, principal of Lake Mary High School in Florida, has become a bit of an overnight sensation. She has always been a superstar educator, but now she’s a YouTube hit after she joined the school’s dance team in a pep rally performance and the video later went viral. In this month’s questionnaire, we ask Reynolds about that video, her father, and her favorite movie.
Your video shows you performing with the step team, Unity Revolution, at a pep rally in the auditorium. Who came up with the idea? Were you nervous?
After witnessing an amazing performance by our step team during the first pep rally of the school year, I suggested to the coach that it would be fun for me to jump in and step with the team at a future pep rally. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but as the actual performance grew closer, I began to question the wisdom of my offer! I was getting very nervous that I might botch the performance.
The video has gone viral—really viral. Did you ever think it would be such a phenomenon?
I had absolutely no idea that a video of our step performance would go viral. Between the original video posted on Facebook and YouTube, and versions of the video posted on GMA, USA Today, The Today Show, A Plus, and other sites, the video has been viewed over 10 million times. That’s unbelievable to me.
You’re a principal at a school your father founded. What’s that like?
I feel honored and privileged to serve as principal of the school my father founded, and I attended, more than 30 years ago. He initiated a tradition of excellence in academics, athletics, and arts at Lake Mary High School, so I feel responsible for upholding, and even building upon, that tradition. Not only am I committed to my school and my community, but also, I would never want to let my father down.
What lessons did your father impart in terms of educating students?
My father taught me the importance of setting high expectations for all students, as well as the necessity of building programs and systems of support that create paths for all students to meet those expectations. He also emphasized the power of being visible and being personally involved with students, parents, staff, and the community. Finally, he taught me to hire good teachers, then trust them to do their jobs.
What’s your favorite movie?
In the spring of 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of “Gifted” with my niece, Susi, at Florida State University. This movie resonated with both of us, not only because of the unique challenges associated with educating a truly gifted child, but also because of the emotion associated with determining who best should care for a child who has lost her primary caregiver. Susi’s mom, my sister, was a teacher and single mom and was killed by a distracted driver when Susi was in sixth grade.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
For the past two months, I’ve engaged my administrative team in a book study of The Leadership Challenge Sixth Edition by [James M.] Kouzes and [Barry Z.] Posner. The leadership practices outlined in this book closely align with my personal leadership philosophy, and the discussions my team has enjoyed as a result of our book study have made us better school leaders.