This week the National Association of Secondary School Principals selected their 2016 National Principal of the Year. Of the 50 Principals of the Year from each state three were selected as finalists for National Principal of the Year. All three cite a change in their school culture as an important aspect of their success. We had the opportunity to chat with all of them this past week.

Kyle Hoehner – Lexington High School in Lexington, NE

When he took over the school 6 years ago, his school had low graduation rates. Under Kyle’s leadership, the results speak for themselves. Now their graduation rate is 91-95%, higher than the state average. He credits school culture and a colloaborative approach as the key to Lexington High School’s success.

On his philosophy and school mantra:


Individual attention and Recognition are also a big part of Lexington’s culture:


When asked for tips to make a change in culture, Kyle noted the importance of getting buy-in from and listening to all stakeholders:



Patty Fry – Plymouth South High School in Plymouth, MA

When Patty became Principal at Plymouth South, the school was in a difficult situation. After a New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation process, the school was on warning for 5 of the 7 standards that are tested. Along with facility issues, Patty and her staff had many culture changes to make.

On her philosophy about school culture:


Patty also believes a culture of trust is necessary to get things done:


As a new Principal, getting buy-in isn’t always easy. Patty won her teachers over by keeping them in the loop with her Rumor Control Memos:


The results have been significant for Plymouth South High. In fact, the accreditation organization which put the school on warning a decade ago now refers to it as a model of culture for the state:



Alan Tenreiro – Cumberland High School in Cumberland, RI

This week Alan was named the 2016 National Principal of the Year. Mr. Tenreiro also credits a changing of culture and a growing of pride from within the school walls as a major tenet of his accomplishment.

On the changing of culture and building of pride:


From pep rallies and murals on the walls, to focusing on paying it forward, Alan elaborates on how his students show their pride:


The proud principal also notes that if you have high expectations for your students, they will often meet them:


Finally, the 2016 National Principal of the year offers a tip on changing the culture in your school:


Thanks and congratulations to all three finalists for National Principal of the Year. Their insights are valuable to all who are looking to renew school climate and culture.

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