Middle school. It’s not for the faint of heart. But where many fear to tread, Bob Salladino, Ed.D., ’93, G’97, principal of Owen J. Roberts Middle School in Pottstown, Pa., is excited about where he has spent his career.
“Admittedly, it’s not for everyone,” he says. “People frequently groan when I tell them that I work in a middle school. I have spent my entire career in education – now beginning my 18th year – working with students at this age level. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Salladino’s exuberance for education in general and for his school in particular is fueled, in part, by the energy he draws from the teachers and staff with whom he works.
“I am fortunate to work in a school where I am surrounded by teachers and staff members who thrive on working with students at this level,” he says. “These teachers understand that middle school students are exploring new levels of independence but are still in need of and welcome the structure and guidance that is available from their teachers.”
Drawing on his teaching experience has made Salladino effective as a principal, he says. “I have worked in three great schools in three great school districts. Being a teacher was a wonderful time in my career; however, now I am in a position where I can share my ideas, passion, and energy in a broader scope.”
Reflecting on his experience, Salladino concludes that being a principal today is both challenging and exciting.
“With each year, all educators are being held more and more accountable for the progress of each and every student,” he says. “The principal must wear many, many hats – not just managing the school, but leading in a way that promotes the growth of all students and teachers. No Child Left Behind [NCLB] has dramatically altered the ‘rules of the game’ for all schools and leaders. Funding and budget pressures have also placed new restrictions and barriers on the work of school leaders. With all of that said, I love my job and I accept the challenge and excitement that it offers.”
One of the challenges Salladino took on was improving the health and wellness of his students. With receipt of an Active Schools Grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Salladino’s school delivered more opportunities for its students to be physically active last year: additional after- and before- school activities, power walks during team time, and exercise with the HOPSports multimedia physical fitness system.
“I had the opportunity to address the Pennsylvania State Board of Education in May to discuss the importance of this initiative in our school,” says Salladino. “We are planning to expand our program this year and to continue our work in helping students to be active and fit.”
Salladino is a graduate of Cabrini College, where he received bachelor’s degrees in history and mathematics, a master of education and secondary principal certification. He received a doctor of education from Immaculata University and is currently an adjunct faculty member in Cabrini’s Graduate Education Program, teaching a course on education and social policy.
“The Cabrini faculty modeled for me many of the qualities that I have come to understand are the hallmarks of outstanding educators – knowledge of subject, passion for teaching and learning, and concern and compassion for students.
“Truly, I am a proud Cabrini graduate and I am sure to tell anyone who will listen about the fabulous education that I have received. My wife is also a Cabrini graduate (Karen Moffett Salladino ’93, G’00), so the College holds a special place in the Salladino household.”
A follow-up to a 1980s research study to gauge the effect of early childhood education on future academic success has discovered that those who learned more in kindergarten were more likely to earn more money as adults.
Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, followed up on nearly 12,000 children who participated in the 1980 Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) Project. He wanted to measure the quality of their lives in terms of their kindergarten experience. He found that being in a good kindergarten class had a relatively constant effect on earnings across income levels. For poor, middle-class and high-income children, being in a standout class – one that, in technical terms, made an extra standard deviation of progress over the course of the year – led to about a 7 percent increase in annual earnings at age 27.
In addition, students who had a good kindergarten teacher learned more, were less likely to be teenage parents, were less likely to die young, and more likely to have gone to college. The research suggests that a good kindergarten education can help hedge against downswings in societal economics.
Babies and young children are driven by curiosity. But as children progress through school, it can seem as if their passion for learning shrinks. We’ve all stood in front of a class that, by and large, seems to be physically but not mentally present. How can we reignite our students’ passion and curiosity and reinvigorate the classroom?
Consider these “educate by engagement” techniques offered by veteran teachers to help you connect with students and facilitate better learning dynamics:
Sources: Brophy, J. (1986). “Classroom Management Techniques.” Education and Urban Society.Hayden, Kellie. (March 2010 ). “Top Five Classroom Management Strategies.” www.brighthub.com
Chances are, you are juggling your education with work, home, and possibly a few moments of social activity. Writing your research paper while balancing the rigors of family and work life can be a major challenge. An effective strategy will help mitigate the pitfalls that typically trip up graduate education research efforts.
Choose wisely. It is critical that you seriously consider your research topic, and select one for which you have a passion. Writing your paper is tantamount to a job. If you don’t have a vested interest in this job, you will soon become miserable. Select a research topic that complements your interests and goals.
Embrace your learning style. You’re an adult; therefore your work habits and learning style are part of who you are. Work with that style, not against it. For example, if you work efficiently in large segments of time, you may find it more effective to block out an entire weekend every six weeks to write. If you work better at night, staying late at the office a couple of nights a week may be the better option for you. It’s important to understand what works best for you, and then commit to that regular regime.
Network. If you don’t come by this skill naturally, it is important to develop it. Tell people, especially those who are educators, about your research. They may be able to provide reference material or resources that would support your efforts. Early in the process, tell friends and family what you are doing. Explain that it’s important to you and that by devoting time over the next period of months, you plan to complete your research by a specific date. This will help establish the reason why you will be spending less time with them and accepting fewer social invitations.
Maintain the status quo. Try to refrain from big lifestyle changes while working on your research. Now is not the time to begin house hunting or planning your six-week cross-country camping trip. But, life does include unexpected events like illness or family crises. Should those occur, talk to your advisor as quickly as possible to get advice and direction on managing your education obligations through the event.
Sources: Gleason, Jessica. (2008). “Guide to Writing a Master’s Thesis.” www.suite1010.com “Juggling Your Thesis and Your Family Life.”www.gradschools.com
Darlene Boyd ’67, presented her paper, “Coming of Age in the Modern Community: Women of Legend and Sustainability of Worth,” at the 2010 Singapore Management University’s annual international conference. She is director of the Gifted Students Academy at the University of California, Irvine. Joyce Mundy ’90, principal of New-Hope Solebury Middle School in New Hope, Pa., was named the 2010 Pennsylvania Middle School Principal of the Year. Terry Rotolo Niemann ’99 was named Co-Teacher of the Year at Rupert Elementary School in Pottstown, Pa., for the second consecutive year. Shawn Wright ’09, has been named assistant principal of Graystone Academy Charter School in Coatesville, Pa. Graduate Education graduates may submit career news online or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.