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Principals set goals at retreat

Last week, more than 40 Rowan-Salisbury principals and administrators set out for a principal’s retreat on the campus of Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
In a time when most textile companies are struggling and moving overseas, Milliken is thriving — a fact greatly credited toward the company’s unique company culture.
Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said there were two purposes for having the retreat at Milliken.
“One was to talk about culture and how to really get to an extraordinary culture,” she said, adding that the other reason was to “really get to know each other” and to develop teamwork.
Moody said although the Rowan-Salisbury School System isn’t a textile company, the district’s principals and leadership team can learn a lot from Milliken.
The company has undergone a number of changes throughout the years, she explained.
“Had they not transformed, they would have gone out of business,” she said.
“Milliken was absolutely amazing,” said Jennifer Lentz, principal of Southeast Middle School.
“They Made you feel like a million bucks,” she said, adding that she wants to make her students feel the same way.
The group of school administrators spent Wednesday and Thursday working on teamwork and collaboration and discussing innovation, transformational leadership, culture and structure.
The principals were given several pre-work assignments to prepare them for the retreat.
They were asked to describe what an extraordinary day at school would look like through a child’s eyes and to answer questions about Rowan-Salisbury’s culture and structure.
Principals discussed the assignments amongst themselves in pairs and groups, comparing answers and ideas.
“Then we got to hear about the Milliken experience,” Moody said, explaining that the group toured the company’s innovation gallery to learn about how they recognize excellent employees and do innovative work.
With so many principals within their first year in their position, team building was an especially important aspect of the retreat, so the group took part in a team cornhole tournament Wednesday night.
The principals spent the following day looking at and setting goals based on the district’s strategic plan and focus areas — literacy, problem based learning, digital conversion and collaboration and professional learning communities.
Moody said the group worked to define what the standards and expectations were in each of those areas, then how to personalize the focus areas for their schools, staff and students. Then, they discussed how they could go above and beyond in each area.
Before the group left, the principals all shared their takeaways and personal goals for themselves and their schools.
“Each person spoke about what they were going to do personally to change the culture in our schools,” Moody said.
“We’re working to change the culture of Southeast Middle,” Lentz said, adding that she wants to “create a school full of student leaders and teacher leaders. “
“I pledge to exude 110 percent energy and enthusiasm in everything we do. I am super excited about seeing where we go,” said Catherine Hinson, who’s been principal at Granite Quarry Elementary School for six months.
Moody said the retreat was a “powerful experience.”
“We left as a team,” she said.
“It was by far the most amazing professional development opportunity we’ve had since I’ve been in education,” said Kelly Withers.
Withers will become principal of South Rowan High School next year, after four years as principal at Carson.

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