PMP233: Multiplying Excellence in Your School with Emily Paschall

This week I have the privilege of interviewing Emily Paschall about her new book, Eyes on Culture: Multiply Excellence in Your School.

As you know, culture drives the outcomes of your school, and Emily unpacks ways to not only live your own excellence, but to multiply excellence in others. In her book, you will learn:

  • How to use your lived experiences to help someone else
  • How to unlock the key to connecting with all kids, even those who seem unreachable
  • How to build partnerships with families so that they desire to work with you
  • How to make difficult conversations not so difficult
  • How to help every student, parent, and colleague achieve excellence…and more!

Meet Emily Paschall

Image result for emily paschall

Emily A. Paschall has served as a teacher, district coach, school administrator, professional learning trainer, and motivational speaker. Currently, she serves as assistant principal at Cedar Hill Elementary in Ardmore, Alabama.A fellow ConnectEdd author, her passions lie in teaching, learning, and serving others. She leads a nation wide group of administrators through supportive social media sites with shared ideas, information, and motivation. She is best known for founding the ElemAPNetwork where she offers various opportunities for administrators to experience a live exchange of best practices and fresh ideas.  Her work is recognized around the world from educators who desire to learn how to create a climate and culture that promotes excellence.

Emily’s innovative methods for driving student engagement, promoting academic rigor, and stimulating excitement about school has created a ripple effect in others across the country.

Multiplying Your Excellence

Listen to the entire episode for even more takeaways! The following is a short summary of the conversation:

WDP: Emily, welcome to Principal Matters podcast. Can you fill in the gaps on that intro and tell listeners something they may be surprised to know about you?

Emily: I almost didn’t become a teacher. But Mr. Wade, one of my education professors in college was so inspiring, he had me hooked on the decision to become an educator. 

WDP: Let’s talk about your new book. What is the overall message you want educators to know in ‘Eyes on Culture: Multiply Excellence in Your School’’?

Emily: I have always worked in high poverty schools. I didn’t grow up in that type of environment. I quickly realized that in order to reach my kids, I had to get in the trenches and learn their experiences. As a teacher, math specialist, and administrator, I realized we have to do whatever it takes. Relationships are the foundation of everything we do, but it is not just about relationships. The two most important qualities are compassion and grit. We are rooted in relationships, but we must also be committed to helping them reach learning goals. 

WDP: Why is ‘being a champion’ for students so important for education leaders?

Emily: Some kids do have a champion, but many don’t have anyone rooting for them at home. How are we going to motivate them to become better? Kids must know we believe in them. One of my favorite ways to champion for kids is by riding the bus with them. With 600 kids in my building, I have to be very intentional about knowing them. Every Friday, I ride a different bus – it’s a great way to know students and bus drivers. 

One student, Michael, for instance, was a student who I was only having negative interactions with at school. One Friday morning, I rode Michael’s bus. He was the first rider that morning, and we he saw me, he was stunned. I noticed he lived in a difficult home environment, his shirt was inside out, no one was waiting with him when he got on the bus. I realized I was probably the first person he would talk to that morning. 

I invited him to sit by me, and before long he said, “Ms. Paschall. Do you see that red bike over there? That’s mine.” From that moment on, Michael and I had a new connection and I was able help him in ways I never had before. This was a turnaround moment for his learning and entire his school experience.

WDP: You also talk about celebrating student success. Why is that important to you – especially as educators manage during a pandemic?

Emily: If we celebrate the positives with our students, they are more likely to want to come to school. When I first became an administrator, I realized kids were only coming to my office for negative reasons. So we began recognizing students through positive phone calls home. As a school, we developed a Cub Award. Momentum is the greatest of change agents. By recognizing the positive things kids are doing, we call parents on speaker phone to celebrate what they are doing. For so many parents, it’s a great learning experience for them as well. It’s a wonderful way to connect with students and parents. I love to video those moments to share on social media because it’s so heartfelt to see students share with parents something great they have been doing.

WDP: How have you been able to held onto culture even during a pandemic?

Emily: When you’re faced with tough circumstances, it doesn’t make or break your culture, it reveals your culture. Last March when we had to shut down, we had to decide how we could stay connected to relationships with our students. I have always been a fan of home visits. Our teachers decided to do home visits – from the porch or yard – and our teachers did more than 1,000 home visits from March to May – reading them books or bringing them surprises. When we started back in the fall, we were so discouraged about not having parent nights. So, we decided to home visits again to meet them. The majority of staff met their kids this way. They knew our kids circumstances and knew all their parents before school ever began. December was the hardest month this year because of quarantines. We didn’t want to close, but it has been very hard as we’ve tried to cover staff. I’m so proud of our school, though, that we had the highest percentage of our students back in our building this year. More than 90% of our students have been able to return to in-person learning.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Emily’s book is packed full of ideas like the ones she has shared in the interview and more! One of the lessons Emily conveys in her book is that one of the most powerful things you can do is carry the banner for your school. It is easy to go silent when you’re discouraged. But that is one of them most dangerous things you can do right now when students need to know we want them in our buildings. Are you portraying your school in a way that makes people want to be a part of it?

Now It’s Your Turn

It is a responsibility and a privilege to tell the story of your school. How are you capturing the moments of excellence happening with your students and teachers – even during a pandemic? How can you share those ideas out and ‘carry the banner’ for your school?

Connect with Emily

To book future speaking engagements, contact her at EmilyAPaschall@gmail com. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Voxer via @EmilyAPaschall.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker