When School & Family Decisions Collide

There have been many times when I have heard administrators talk passionately about their schools, then with conviction say, “Our families always have to come first.”  I wonder, as I have gone through an internal battle with a decision about my family & school over the summer, how many other Principals and educators have dealt with this similar “battle?”

When I came to my isolated rural school 3 years ago, I was questioned by many family members, friends, and colleagues as to whether my daughter, who was going into 2nd grade at the time would come to school with me, or attend school in our hometown (actually my husband’s hometown – where we live- which is a 40 minute commute from my school where I now work). My daughter had attended the school district I’d worked in with me K-1, and had wonderful experiences. There had been discussion about her remaining in our home district when she began in Kindergarten, but at the last minute, I couldn’t bear to have her away from me and brought her to school in the district where I worked, which then was a 25 minute commute.  This commute time with my daughter has always been sacred to me; I have loved every minute of it.

At the time when I took my current job three years ago, I NEVER even considered her not coming to my new school with me.   Many people couldn’t believe I would bring her to a “failing school” with looming concerns about academic distress, but ‘in my gut’ I just knew from day one, St. Paul Schools was going to be an amazing “turnaround” story, and it has been.

So what changed this summer? Why the sudden internal conflict?

Our son is entering Kindergarten this year.

Our 5 year old has attended the same PreSchool/Daycare in our town of residence since he was six weeks old. He is entrenched with a group of friends that he has not only attended ‘school’ with daily, he also plays multiple sports with them year round.  Quite frankly, my husband would like our son to attend his alma mater, a much larger school in the town where we live, my husband works, and we have a beautiful home. I am sure many of y’all are saying, why don’t I just go to work in the district where we live and make everyone happy; please don’t go there: if it were that simple…oh if it were that simple! 😉

There is a new work situation playing into the equation as well, at my school district we are in transition; leadership has changed, we have a new Superintendent and a New Teacher & Administrator Evaluation System statewide: so to say this is going to be a “High Stress Year” would be a little bit of an understatement.

SO WHAT IS BEST TO DO? I honestly don’t know. The one non-negotiable about the situation for my husband and I is that we will not separate our children. They will attend school together…but where?

I have agonized over this decision all summer; finally about two weeks ago I got up the courage to reach out to a Voxer group of administrators I really respect for their take. I cannot thank them enough for their candid replies, both in the group and those of you who took the time to personally give me your input and your own personal stories. This meant the world to me that you cared and understood how hard this decision was, as well as the emotions I was going through.

After weighing all things, both professionally, and personally, we have decided our children WILL BE GOING TO St. Paul Schools with me this year. It will most certainly be difficult at times. My daughter is going to have to step up and help with her brother after school when I am in trainings/meetings, and she understands and is willing to take on this challenge (she truly is amazing and mature beyond her 10 years).

I believe as Principal I must continue to step up and work to make our school not only what I want for MY CHILDREN, but what we want for ALL OF OUR STUDENTS. I know and I do agree that my family must be my priority, but I must factor in that I AM often the only family my students have and they need to know the education they are getting is good enough for my children too.  Perception should not matter, but when it comes to school/community culture in a poor, rural, isolated school it definitely does. I would never want anyone to believe I didn’t feel St. Paul Schools was “good enough” for my own children. IT IS! This school, our teachers and staff are absolutely amazing! My goal is for every school to bring a top quality education to every student; that is what we have done at St. Paul Schools, and I will work tirelessly to make sure we improve on this every single day.


A good friend told me I am here at my school this upcoming year for a reason; I believe bringing my children and being a role model of belief in our teachers, staff, & system is one of these reasons.

Sometimes professional decisions are personal, and personal decisions can be professional, I think this is one of those cases.


4 Responses to When School & Family Decisions Collide

  1. Daisy, I also dealt with a similar decision and it is such a difficult one! My decision was also the same – my children attend the school where I am the Principal. My daughter loves it. My son wouldn’t know the difference if he carried it in with him in a paper bag! I am glad to know that there are other “Principal Moms” who agonize over these things as well. I am so sorry I missed you tonight on PrincipalCast but I look forward to connecting very soon.

  2. Holly Sutherland said:

    Great decision! I always feel that I miss so much when your kids are with you!

  3. Greg said:

    Wonderful blog Daisy!

  4. Julie A Shultz-Bartlett said:

    I know this was a difficult decision for you and your family. I work 45 minutes away from where my children go to school (in our home district). My district is much lower SES than our home district. I love where I lead. I would send my kids to our schools. Taking our kids to school with us, especially when we teach/lead outside our residential district, is one that many teachers and principals struggle with. Each makes her/his own decisions. I’ve seen it done both ways with great success. I wish you and your family a wonderful new school year. I am jealous of your commute conversations! I miss those.

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