PMP300: Celebrating a Milestone & Lessons Learned with Dr. Jeff Springer

In December 2015, Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast began from my home on my laptop with a borrowed microphone during a Christmas Break when I had time to research how to start a podcast. Six years later, we have reached the milestone of 300 episodes with more than 750,000 downloads to date. 

In this special episode, Dr. Jeff Springer, education consultant and 2013 Texas Secondary Principal of the Year, joins me to walk down memory lane together. 

We discuss lessons learned from some of Jeff’s favorite PMP episodes. Plus, I fill-in-the gaps on stories behind the making of the show and the many guests who have shared over the years.

A special thank you to Principal Matters friends who send audio-messages to be included in this episode, including:

  • Eddie Trygar, Assistant Principal, North Chatham Elementary, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Paden Morris, Tyler Consolidated High School, Sistersville, West Virginia
  • Yolonda Dawson, Arlington Classics Academy, Arlington, Texas
  • Kyle Novak, Visions In Education Charter School, Sacramento, California
  • Jen Schwanke, author, Deputy Superintendent, Dublin City Schools, Dublin, Ohio and co-host of Principal Matters who sent in a special message for listeners.

You can see a complete archive of the show here:

Here is a short summary of some of the memories and lessons Dr. Springer and I explored in PMP300:

2015 Episodes Highlights

Jeff starts by highlighting takeaways from Episode 1: What are the steps you’re taking to make sure your school has its most successful school-year yet?

3 C’s for a Successful School Year: Communication, Conversations, and Culture

Lessons Learned…
1. Some students have lots of supports before they ever step into school.
2. Billy’s teacher made it easy for him to feel secure and oriented.
3. Jenny’s experience makes it difficult to have resources necessary to start successfully.
4. The lack of follow-through of a teacher to follow best practices makes Jenny’s experience even more difficult.

The more prepared we are to rally around common themes, the more opportunities our students have to be successful. Communication means creating a new consistent, friendly, helpful environment where students thrive. Conversations happen when educators steal ideas from one another and then act on them.Culture happens when an entire school is united around common expectations.*Adam Saenz research shows students need to know an adult is in control and to know they’re loved.  Conclusion: Mixing together the 3 C’s provides the perfect ingredients for a successful school year! 

Next, Jeff remembers lessons from Episode 2, including Diana Nyad’s incredible story of courage. Ingredients for leadership: courage & teamwork. Strong leaders achieve goals when they understand their goals, count the cost, run the race with endurance, and surround themselves with great teammates.

This episode includes and hour-by-hour, incident-by-incident summary of what a typical day may look like for a school principal, and the constant change and challenge that competes for the most important goals you need to be accomplishing.

The motivations that can keep you going: 

1. Creating a place of security, purpose, meaning and mission. 

2. Redeeming, repairing, rescuing or rebuilding what is broken or in need of improvement.

2016 Episode Highlights

Jeff highlights Episode 35: Are You Growing? 5 Questions To Ask Yourself

1. To whom do you read or listen to most?

2. To whom do you entrust most of your time?

3. Who has your best interest in mind?

4. Whom are you serving?

5. To whom are you accountable?

Next, we remember Episode 46: 5 Tips For Responding To Resistance

1. You are not alone.

2. Remember others on your team who can help carry the load.

3. Be patient with yourself. Experience is a great teacher.

4. Choose to find joy rather than becoming resentful.

5. Look for and celebrate the small successes.

2017 Episode Highlights

Including PMP048 through PMP095, this time period begin the series on Messaging Matters, which later became its own book. Plus, great guests like Marlena Gross Taylor, Jethro Jones, Justin Baeder, Andrew McPeak, and Jon Harper. Here’s one with Marlena Gross Taylor on PMP:090 Why You Should Brand Your School

2018 Episode Highlights

In episodes PMP096-PMP137, we remember content from the Messaging Matters series. This was also the start of content for Pause. Breathe. Flourish. with PMP115: ‘How is the air you breathe?’

Another great episode that stands out is PMP109: The Power of One Caring Adult with Josh Shipp

2019 Episode Highlights

Episodes PMP138-PMP178  included guests like John Wink, Kim Marshall, Jenn David Lang, Dave Sandowich, William Stubbs, Phyllis Faggell, Jesse Haynes, and Garth Larson.

The first show with Jen Schwanke, began with PMP140, and Jen soon became the most frequent guest and contributor to the podcast. Our first show together was PMP:140 Strategies and Solutions for New School Leaders – Interview with Jen Schwanke,

Other noteworthy moment in 2019 included:: 

Episode 158: Why Telling Your Own Story Matters

Episode 177: Cha Cha’s For Making Learning Stick With LeAnn Nickelsen

2020 Episode Highlights

This series included PMP225-PMP179. We brought in Dr. Jeff Springer on his research over P.L.A.Y., for PMP203: Cultivating PLAY in Leadership

This year also brought an ongoing episodes with Jen Schwanke. As the pandemic began, we also opened a Mastermind for Principals. In PMP204: We Are All Pioneers And Tweeners This School Year!, we learned what to expect in a hard climb.

  • Hard climbs require courage and determination.
  • They require planning for the knowns and expecting quick decisions when you face unknowns.
  • The climb is easier with strong teamwork and encouragement from one another. 
  • Hard climbs with teams require selfless moments and looking out for others.

We also highlighted Episode 222: A Fighter Pilot’s Lessons For Leaders, with Brad Ruttman from December 2020.

2021 Episode Highlights

Finally, we reminiscence about episodes PMP227-PMP275. The Pandemic series during this time  included leaders such as Andrew O’Farrell, Samantha Bartrom, Anne-Marie Maw, Loredana Borello, Toirldelbhack O’ Lionaird, Brittany Harris, Paul Wendler, Jessica Wee plus many others.

Again, the archive for all shows, can be found here:

Let’s Wrap This Up

As Dr. Springer and I wrapped up this episode, we took time to also say thank you to you – the listeners and many others who have influenced the lessons we have learned together the past six years. Thank you for doing what matters and for your ongoing and learning we experience together!

You can connect with Dr. Springer and his resources at

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker