Trish Douglas, Principal of Citrus Springs Elementary
Survive! That was her goal when Trish Douglas received her first appointment as Principal of Citrus Springs Elementary in 2007.
She faced significant challenges, in addition to being a brand new principal. The school was in a remote rural location in Citrus County where it was difficult to attract employees and business partners. In addition, there were 1100 students enrolled on a campus originally built for 750 students. There was a new AP. And on and on. “I kept telling myself, do your best for the students, and survive,” remembers Trish.
Mrs. Douglas and a team participated in the 2007 July Leadership Academy before school opened. It was a turning point.
She had attended an Academy in 2006 when she was an AP and was impressed by the weeklong learning experience and wealth of development activities and resources. This time, however, she was participating as a Principal and leader of her own team, a new start and opportunity.
“It was an extraordinary week for us,” she recalls. “It was intense--a lot to learn and absorb. But it was just what we needed—information, community–building, data training, skill development, and expert speakers who both enlightened and motivated. It gave us time—a precious commodity--to coalesce as a team and reflect on what we learned and how to apply it.”
The Academies are designed to empower and support the leadership of instructional teams—Principal, AP, and Teacher—from schools statewide. They are sponsored by the Florida Department of Education through their William C. Golden Professional Development Program . They are also supported by corporate donors whose generosity makes it possible to provide a first class learning experience.
“We came to the Academy as a fledgling team and we left a united, dynamic force, prepared and excited for the school year,” said Ms. Douglas. “We created a plan at the Academy, based on what we learned and with the help of our insightful and expert mentor, Dr. Pat Dixon. The mentor guidance was a unique and valuable feature.”
“When I walked through the doors on the first day of school, I knew we would do more than survive. We would thrive,” she said. “All year we used our plan as the blueprint for everything we do. I can’t thank the sponsors enough for providing such a meaningful development experience.”
The results? In 2007 Citrus Springs Elementary achieved an A grade, up from a B last year, met AYP and had some of the highest achievement gains in the district.
The Academy focus on leadership comes from the Council’s documented research showing that this characteristic is the defining factor in improving a school and raising achievement.