I’ve been there—I know all the reasons principals can’t make time for themselves. And the current conditions only magnify those reasons. Our political climate is more polarized than ever. There is greater social unrest than ever. Our students, families, and staff are hurting more than ever. You just can’t step away.

But those conditions are precisely the reason why you must step away. Your community needs you at your best. Without taking time to reflect and recharge, you can give them only a shadow version of all you are. NASSP’s 2012 Digital Principal of the Year Eric Sheninger said it well on his A Principal’s Reflections blog (https://esheninger.blogspot.com) when the pandemic hit in March:

Self-care encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you can transmit the good feelings to others. You cannot give to others what you don’t have yourself. While some may misconstrue self-care as selfish, it’s far from that. You’re reinvigorating yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for the people around you.

Personal wellness is an essential condition for real learning to happen. Perhaps one of the greatest services you can provide your staff and students, then, is to model that personal wellness and speak openly about it. Share how you recharge—journaling, music, long drives, nature walks, whatever it might be—and how it makes you better. Your modeling will give others permission to do the same. And it just might reinforce the permission you give yourself.

As we remember all that we are thankful for this month, please know that all of us at NASSP are thankful for all of you. Yes, we value your participation in our organization. But we are also parents, citizens, and members of your community who observe and benefit from your amazing work. And we are honored to play a small part in your success.

JoAnn Bartoletti