Dr. Paramo’s leadership focuses on providing Mat-Su families with innovation, choice, and customer service. Her mission is to help all of her students graduate with the skills and knowledge to prepare them for a successful career, military, or college experience after graduating from MSBSD.
Deena talks about her career, family, background, and some pretty exciting pastimes (2:07)
Deena’s career path from college to her present position in Alaska (6:24)
How substituting for absent admins led her to move from teaching to administration (9:05)
Some of the challenges and struggles that Deena had to deal with when she first got into administration (13:50)
Advice for keeping your priorities straight and your life balanced while still being a great administrator (17:00)
Deena looks back to her first year in administration and compares and contrasts it with her current year, and discusses how she’s grown and improved since then (20:35)
Deena shares a story about one of the times in her career where she made a powerful impact on a school system (25:50)
The best leadership advice Deena’s ever received – “Hire well” (35:18)
Understanding how kids learn makes leading teachers easy (35:30)
The business book that Deena recommends for Edu-leaders (35:49)
Deena’s advice for working with students (36:25)
Deena’s advice for working with teachers (36:47)
Deena’s advice for working with principals (38:55)
If Deena had a time machine and could back to the younger version of herself, when she was first starting on her education career, here’s the advice she would give herself. (40:00)
Books mentioned in this episode
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Educators Lead Ep. 30
Let Your Community Be A Part Of Something Great By Developing An Inspirational Culture In Your School District
Show notes: http://www.educatorslead.com/deenaparamo/
Welcome to Educators Lead where we interview leaders in education to offer inspiration and practical advice to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. I’m your host Jay Willis and I want to thank you for subscribing to our show.
Intro: Alright let’s do this! Dr, Deena Paramo has been an Alaskan educator since 1991 working as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent. In 2011 the Mat-Su Borough School board unanimously selected Dr. Paramo to serve in her current position as superintendent. Dr. Paramo’s leadership focuses on providing Mat-Su families with innovation, choice and customer service. Her mission is to help all of her students graduate with the skills and knowledge to prepare them for a successful career, military, or college experience after graduating from MSBSD. That’s just a brief introduction Deena but tell us a little more about yourself.
Deena Paramo: Sure, believe it or not I have actually started going to school myself; people in my position perhaps are school people. From the time I was 5 I’ve been in school. But I grew up in New Jersey initially and then moved to Texas for high school and College. My undergraduate was in Texas State University and found myself in Alaska in 1990 and started my first job as a 3rd grade teacher in a small little town with only about 750 students in the town and it was absolutely the best job I could probably ever have. It was really fun. After a couple of years I moved into a bigger town which I am currently in now. This was my 25th year in education and in the state of Alaska that’s a year that you could possibly retire but I think I have a lot more years ahead of me if you will. But I taught Math in middle school and as you said just moved into some leadership positions. I am a mom, I have 2 beautiful daughters, I have a junior who goes to college here in Anchorage at the University of Alaska and I have a senior who attend Cecilia High school in our town in Breaux and I am currently just newly engaged.
Jay Willis: Congratulations on that.
Deena Paramo: Thank you! Some hobbies, I love to run, I play sports … I play basketball, soccer in women’s league and I have an odd hobby I do like to paint, not some pictures or things like that – I actually am really good at painting rooms and walls inside and doing full finishes. I do those for my friends. I love it because sometimes in the job of education you do your best and then the students pass on and you never really see the end results but when you paint there always is a start and a finish and for me in my free time I paint and I also read. Kristin Hannah is my favorite fictional author.
Jay Willis: it’s probably nice to have some closure in the painting sometime
Deena Paramo: Absolutely … It’s done! You can look back and … look at, look at what I did
Jay Willis: so besides that is there anything else interesting that some people wouldn’t know about you?
Deena Paramo: I like to ski, I’ve learned how to surf, we have a surf boat so I surf behind a boat and last year I jumped out of a plane. I kind of like to do different things just to have the experiences and then I say I am done; check out my bucket list now. I don’t think I would be parachuting in a while.
Jay Willis: So was the plane on fire or what?
Deena Paramo: Oh no. we had an assistant principal here who for years… he runs in the summer a company where you can just take jumps on this beautiful Alaskan scenery and he had been bugging me for 10 years and finally rather than just ask me again he said “What are you doing Saturday? Come out” and then I had no other … I had told him I wasn’t doing anything, so I really … he caught me so I had to show up at his place and do the experience. I jumped but it was a pretty neat thing to do. If anybody wants to know, you don’t feel like falling it feels like you’re flying so it’s just wonderful but once is enough for me.
Jay Willis: Yeah, all because of inertia. I know I went tandem as well. I was just giving you a hard time about the, was it on fire because you know I went tandem skydiving probably it’s been 15 years ago or something but that was the question then, especially when my dad asked me, Was the plane on fire?
Deena Paramo: We were on fire
Jay Willis: Yeah, it was a great experience and I’m kind of like you I don’t know if I’d ever do it again but it was sure fun to mark it off the bucket list.
Deena Paramo: Absolutely
Jay Willis: Well that’s neat so I guess; tell us about your career path maybe from the point that you graduated college and to where you are now.
Deena Paramo: Sure. You know I think that I always had a little bit of just liking to organize things and teach and just be a part of good things if you will. So I went to elementary school to middle school and just because of my sports background I was asked to do some coaching. So I did a little volleyball coaching and basketball coaching at the school and had to test with it and again in middle school when I was in my smaller district I had some high school coaching and basketball and just some leadership opportunities that you get along with I guess doing sports and coaching… I would have the opportunity to work with assistant principals and principals more closely and really just some school wide supervision and just being able to affect more things and just being very positive. And it’s just a thing that I liked and there was an opportunity here at the local college and I cannot stress enough, when you have an opportunity to go to school, that education opens up doors, it absolutely does cause I didn’t really think that oh, I’m gonna be an assistant principal at this time, or a principal at this time and then I’m gonna be an assistant superintendent. Really I was just; I had the credentials and I had the credibility, education or having a degree to be able to become competitive and move into those roles. I love working with people and bringing out the best in them and with the experiences I had in education and just not only in my classroom but outside my classroom I kind of led to just more and more opportunities and working with other people whether it was teacher leadership working on curriculum or working with athletic directors in setting up tournaments and finally it was substituting in an assistant principal, principal and I would be pulled back in my classroom sometimes to do that an , you know what this has an effect on the school and to be able to make things better and you know. I went to school got my admin degree and immediately was hired and so I was glad I was a teacher and sometimes I think maybe I should have been a teacher a little longer.
Jay Willis: Yeah, so I guess at what point did you make the decision to move into school leadership and was it kind like a gradual realization or awakening or was there kind of a specific event like you know what this actually might be something I’d like pursue
Deena Paramo: you know I think I had the opportunity to substitute in leadership positions in schools in that middle school of about 800 and again I didn’t wake up 1 day and certainly I didn’t know other superintendent or my superintendent colleague that’d say you know what I woke up and say I always wanted to be a superintendent when I was a kid. It’s just that impact that you have on people and understanding of the…leaders have vision. They know how to inspire and of course you just have to resource things, getting it done and find the resources to make that vision happen but most of all to inspire. And I just love working with people and just really getting the best out of everyone and again having had the degree which would go along with the certification and job opening. I actually have been asked to apply for all the positions which I currently or previously have held and so it wasn’t necessarily this kind of rat race to go get a job and be better than somebody else it was just what value can I add and is it the right time you know with my family and things. And as for the jobs I took they were just great. Sometimes I’d move from a middle school which I love…. activities….love the high school secondary scene… and I just went back to elementary when my kids were little so that I could participate with them. I was a working mom but what better job than to be an educator and being a working mom right next to your kids so I became an elementary principal at that time and enjoyed that. Had a wonderful school and when my own kids matriculated that just offered more opportunity and just again being in the right place and always stepping out and stepping up and out of your comfort zone sometimes is what it takes. Ultimately if anyone has that dream and certainly feel they just want to do it , start putting yourself and stretch what you can do.
Jay Willis: Yeah and one thing that you said really stands out too and I’ve kind of heard this from other guests and that they didn’t necessarily set out in pursuit of a leadership position but they sort of got tapped so to speak where somebody just kind of came along and tapped them on the shoulder and say hey I really think that you ought to apply for this position or you might be a good fit in a leadership role and so I think that some of our listeners especially who are not in school administration yet but they are thinking you know what’s the golden key what’s the magic combination that’s gonna get me the job I want and so often from the guests that are on the show it’s not necessarily about this this magic interview process or application process it’s more just about you getting yourself to a position where you have these leadership qualities and of course the education to go along with it so you can apply for the position but if you just work on developing yourself that people notice that and recognize the leadership qualities that you already have.
Deena Paramo: That’s absolutely right and it’s and you know I think truly educational leadership is really a certain leadership and putting yourself out there to work with others that’s when you are noticed. You know as a teacher when you want to make your school better and well you know you decide, well let’s do this fund raiser, even those small little instances of leadership really continue to build and people’s capacity to envision and have a vision and inspire whether it’s your students you’re inspiring or your coworkers or your parent community. Both of the key experiences that you need to build that really that self-competence and confidence and competency if you will but it’s there and then of course having good mentors and I’ve worked for folks that really challenged me. Some of them I’d say I like these people, but some of my mentors I probably wouldn’t have been their friend growing up but they are the ones that have challenged me the most in retrospect, have taught me the most.
Jay Willis: Yeah I know that’s true of my college professors even though I never would’ve admitted it at that time. The people it’s so funny how often these people who challenge you the most are the one’s you’d learn and grow the most from.
Deena Paramo: Yeah
Jay Willis: So I guess tell us about the challenges, some of the biggest challenges that you’ve encountered along the journey to become a school administrator
Deena Paramo: Thinking about this question…there were a couple of concerns or issues that had arisen during my time and one of course is family and just finding the time to balance cause once you move into school leadership you don’t get to turn that off. When you’re leaving and going to your home you’re still the principal of the school or the director of a program or as I am now a superintendent of a school district so whether I stop and get gas on the way home or go to my own child’s ball game or just wanna be on my computer; you never leave the job. And so balancing that time with your family and my children was … you know something that we had to talk about. There are lots of things to think about if you’re an administrator, we can’t always talk about things and so there is a true battle of public opinion you know even with your own kids about what you can do and what you can’t do; really the home life balance and I’d say the balance of when you are a teacher and you work with others especially where I became an administrator in the school for which I work. I was a teacher and so taking that step up, it’s not about losing friends or not being friends anymore because certainly friends, your friends that are your friends understand the new roles that when you have a leadership role there’s some accountability and responsibility that comes with that and many times you have to deal with the situation in a valid neutral way and that became easier when you understand that it’s really about kids and your job is about the students first and not the adults. And then you can push that aside but it’s in your daily life with your personal relationship or your coworker relationships. They change. In my position now, I was principal for many years so i still have principals in the district here cause I’ve stayed in the district and that I was able to be a different person with and more social with that as you move out of that jobs into new ones there’s bigger responsibilities and differences of what you can and can’t do. So I would, this is what folks often thought as a challenge and you have to be kind enough every day because I am always a mom and always gonna be a mom and I’m also seen as always a superintendent.
Jay Willis: So kind of like a spotlight in some ways
Deena Paramo: Yeah
Jay Willis: Well so as you’re preparing for that role as a school administrator and even now once you have become a school administrator what are some things that you do to make sure you are keeping your priorities at the right pace
Deena Paramo: I really do focus on keeping a balance and I would have to; I know it’s absolutely true when I was just starting out I put in more hours than probably needed more and said yes to everything and just worked and just did a lot myself and part of that leadership as you grow is inspiring others and leading others and encouraging others to become the best leader that they can. Now that I’m in this position I am able to see how treatment of your people is really important and that keeps the balance as well but to be healthy I concentrated on 4 different aspects on my life. I always want to keep up academically and scholarly so I’ve read journals, I pay attention to what’s out there. I am a math teacher by trade so I am a bit of a nerd so betas really matters to me in decision making. So I certainly focus 25% of my time in building that capacity educationally continuing to learn but I also believe in those personal relationships so I focus on those personal relationships as well and make sure that those are also healthy and we say when you are an educator that the parents who are involved in their kids, they are the best students, so why wouldn’t I want every one of my teachers and every one of my employees to be the best parents first because that is going to help the school system and so I have to remember that myself that when there’s a big board meeting and my daughter has a volleyball game I’m gonna try to make it work and not let her down as well and be a superintendent and sometimes that means staying out till midnight to get something done, a report so that I can make that game at 5:00 the next day. Another part is spiritual or religious. Whatever anybody believes or does whether its’ meditating or going on a hike or actually belonging to a church, that part of you is still what keeps a healthy balance and then of course physical exercise. I make sure that I take time to keep myself healthy, eat healthy, I exercise, I like to run, but that 4 component to me is … now that I’ve worked for 25 years and I get it and I didn’t get it before and I think that there was hard lessons learned when you know spending too much time spending in one of those quadrants if you will. You really have to have balance and because we are people first and the healthiest people make the healthiest leaders.
Jay Willis: Yeah. What’s great is that you have a specific plan that’s what I love and it’s really; it’s true of pretty much most every guest that’s been up here, you just don’t fall into success by accident. You’re not effective as leading other people just accidently. And so I love you know the academics, personal relationships, spiritual and physical. That’s great.
Deena Paramo: yeah, you can’t expect other to be somebody or do something without first looking in the mirror yourself.
Jay Willis So what are some ways you feel as though or maybe compare and contrast your first year as an administrator to today and what are some ways you think you’ve done and become better.
Deena Paramo: I think whenever there is a concern or an issue with the teacher, I always move right to resolution. And now I spend a little bit more time just understanding situations probably and taking feedback and it really is about team. I am the furthest removed from … the real mission of our school district is to educate kids and maybe the school board is even more removed than I am, I at least am an employee of the district but I am many layers removed from the bottom line of the student learning and their educational experience being the best that they can be and so I need to build capacity and defer to others in continuity to mentor the leaders that … you know unless you work for me, I have assistant superintendents so I need to build capacity in them to do the very best that they can be to the people that they supervise who would then run schools and it’s really that … you know I can’t really talk about that but .. in our district we think about innovation, about renewing ourselves, If we don’t change we are going to be irrelevant from public education someday because 20% of what you are learning is here and now not something like oh, it’s gonna happen in the future and if we just look around us on what kids do every day the we need to focus on that about how to capture that and use it in school but I’m just focusing on helping other become the best that they can be rather than solving problems so people is probably the biggest change that I’ve made because we just have to have a whole true learning system it can’t be relied on one person and I hope that when I leave and retire or go to a different career path or who knows what I’m gonna do that this district is gonna be as healthy as ever because the people’s capacity to do the work and to understand the work is there because I spent time to train them and allowing the tough decision to be thought out to be made and decided rather than just top down decision and don’t get me wrong, I know where I have to go I have the vision but building capacity for us all to get there will ensure it has success rather than just saying this is what we are gonna do because you can’t force compliance, you really inspire compliance to be better. So that’s the difference. I really try to fix everything
Jay Willis: Yeah I know and I think that’s pretty common not just in school administration but lots of different positions where initially you just have all these ideas and things so you just jump in and you’re really enthusiastic and excited so you start making these changes without really first listening to the people that are already there and trying to learn what is already in place and why it is there and then getting input from other people which leads to buying from these people cause you feel like you’re listening to them. That’s great advice just helping and I kind of find myself doing all these as a parent often. It’s like I could do it so much faster if I could do it by myself you know, or that’s not the way want it done I want it done this way and they don’t learn anything when they do it that way also they do not have any buy in so it’s well … we could do it that way what do you think would be the best way, you know
Deena Paramo: And you want to inspire it that way because you need folks to take risks to not be afraid of that judgment … oh we did not do it Deena’s way. You know, they need to have the ability, the folks that I’ve worked with and the leaders in our school district that can some to me and we can … we used to sing in the taxi from Texas on the, well it was a Lyndon Johnson quote that he said that we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable and that’s kind of our motto that we need others who think differently to really help our thinking so we have built the relationships the capacity to do that and to work with each other and one of our mottos here is we do things with people and not to people and so it really engender each level of leaders and a spot away to challenge with others to come out with better solutions for kids
Jay Willis: so you’ve been in education for a while and administration for quite a while too so I’m sure you have some great stories of the impact that you had a chance to witness and be a part of but if you could just take us to one of your most meaningful and impactful stories you could share
Deena Paramo: I was talking to a friend … he’s a leader here at our district and he had just started at that time and we are in a town outside of a major city and we don’t really have major industry, we are really a bedroom community and very conservative community but we are school for kind of … we needed new schools we needed to really get a bond to add value to our economy and our city and just our schools and give it a face lift and we ended up taking all their needs form overtime and we have a family that didn’t necessarily, it wasn’t that they didn’t support education it was just that spending money on schools and that infrastructure came after some other things like roads and things like that. We put together a bond. I really think that there was some difficulty at the assembly level to get the bond on the ballot they had to pass it.
There were questions on this is too much money and this is this and you are just being hammered left and right and at that moment we started to talk about … and, you know, I respectfully challenged them, do you really think this or think this and I was able to act a as leader and I feel proud of this in my community now because I see such growth and … we are really not only just the way we think and we work here we are noted in the state as being leaders and innovators and doing good things for kids and I think it started it at that time with this capital improvement and it was the single largest bond passed in the state of Alaska at that time and it was $214 Million and at that time our state oil prices was well of $100 so the state paid 70% of it.
So it was basically a little over $60 Million investment on the part of our community for a return of 214 million in building and of course if we took the economists’ theory there is nine more dollars for every dollar that went into that bond that supports somebody buying gas or groceries or moving here because the work is here so we put a lot of people and that time our economy up here went a little south and that was the time about 5 years ago and the whole nation and the time of the stimulus of the president and we were just able to rebuild and rethink. At that point of time we were challenged and about to lose at the board and I was testifying and just challenged the assembly with passion and what do you want for your children. Because they said what you want, do you want this, it was like Oh boy, I shouldn’t be the one saying this. You represent the voters you have constituents what do you want for the education of our youth. Do you want them to learn this way or this way? You know I have more examples but you remember more of the moment than the specific details of what happened and you know that bond ended up passing and in the last 5 years we were able to build confidence and capacity in our community about the return on investment and so because we were able to do that I always go back to rotaries and chambers and share what kids are doing now and were bringing because of some of the upgrades their facilities we were able to bring state events to our borough.
Which means their hotel rooms are filled up; their restaurants. You know one time we have a story where the McDonalds ran out of fries and it is just about, I guess … that moment we became accountable to the greater community and a partner. That probably to me, well the way people thought about school and the way the school district and the board partnered with the assembly and we don’t always agree now but we start to think about our community together and probably, like, singly I know, I’ve educated lots of kids and taught lots of kids and taught them how to read or get the very best SAT scores all of those are wonderful but what this did was it changed our community to focus on kids for generations out. You know more than I could have done as a single teacher and that probably was one of the biggest moments that I could go back to think of. You know, where is the mark left from this school district to take care for kids and their future and I’m one to believe that kids should be the hardest workers in the system but we had to build this system to work for those kids and we did. And we have cyber sites and online learning and new schools and what’s happening, you know we are paid per pupil and just in one year where our state student enrollment has declined, our own borough has increased by 700 kids and so we are just a place … you know when I hear references in the legislature or references on the news about Mat-Su did this, Mat-Su did this that, you know it’s just neat because we empowered lots of good things and they’ve just grown from that.
Jay Willis: Yeah, Well I could have imagined that the parents, students, teachers and everybody in the community would have this sense of being part of something great.
Deena Paramo: that’s the way you put it it’s really … that’s just a good feeling. In our schools are different, and they can be different we want them to each have their own flavor. You know I talk about we are gonna standardize things and you guys customize it because you know even when we go to a restaurant you do it your way right? We have charter schools, we have special mission schools, and we have comprehensive neighborhood schools. When kids look in our high schools we can take something fibrous with the blend of learning from our teachers or in a classroom, so there is this full capacity of individualizing what they’d like but we do it the best we can with what we have and I think our community has responded with that in light to support schools.
Jay Willis: Yeah, I love that and i could see how … maybe your parents and community were fairly engaged beforehand but I can just imagine just the pride and the camaraderie and the feeling of belonging and all of that stuff just in being a part of something great and you know it really just starts with .. I mean you know the top down like your passion obviously other people kind of caught. And now you’ve had a chance to make an impact on the culture of the entire community so that’s really neat
Deena Paramo: Yeah, We also … which has grown from…there’s program, it’s actually out of Texas, the Flippen Group, called Capturing Kids’ Hearts. I don’t know if you know it but it’s really some kind of a training that we give our leaders…it’s called a leadership blueprint. But it also engenders and build capacity in people to understand their strength and their constraints because we all have strengths but the way that we will grow personally is that if we can understand our constraints…what is in us that keeps us from being our best so that we can move forward and we talk about those things openly and if I understand somebody else’s constraint then I’ll know when I’ll sit down on the table with them, this is what we have to talk about because this might be their fear.
But it’s moved to our schools where we have social contracts, we call them, how we behave, kids are good to each other. The data supports it through graduation rates, you know, more AP kids, more AP scores of 3, 4 and 5. Suspensions have been reduced. Kids just love their school and so it’s a good feeling. Our teachers every day, at secondary schools greet their students at the door with a handshake. It is important for us to see how they are first but also the second benefit is teaching kids how to give a good handshake. We literally say two pumps and a dump, I’ll look him in the eye and even if some cultures do not look you In the eye but we want to teach our kids kind of the business culture because all of us are gonna go out and have to sell ourselves. In our world to be able to provide for our families and so we respect each other’s culture but we also teach kid the areas of success. We start with each class … what are the good things. I start every meeting “Tell me some good things” so that happened for some to reengage people and I really think that all of this is just build capacity and people positive rather than and kids believe it.
Jay Willis: so I’m gonna run through same rapid fire questions if you’re ready for those.
Deena Paramo: Sure
Jay Willis: so first of all what’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received
Deena Paramo: Making exceptional people decisions, hire well.
Jay Willis: What would you say is your biggest strength as the schools administrator?
Deena Paramo: probably just knowledge of the constructs of teaching. Just understanding how kids learn and leading is easy that way because I really understand teachers and classrooms
Jay Willis: Is there a book or two that you’d recommend for other school leaders that have made an impact on you?
Deena Paramo: These are business books but I love reading them they do kind of apply to the private sector and the public sector as well. Any Lencioni book but my favorite one is the advantage
Jay Willis: That’s Pat Lencioni right?
Deena Paramo: Yeah, He has about 6 books
Jay Willis: I try to remember I’ve read I think one of them but I can’t remember off the top of my head
Deena Paramo: he has something like Death by Meeting, a funny one
Jay Willis: So what advice would you have for a school administrator working for the students that they serve?
Deena Paramo: be tuned in to them, know your students, walk your halls, talk to your kids, go to those football games, soccer games, band concerts … Be a part
Jay Willis: So kind of along those lines what one piece of advice do you have for working with the teachers
Deena Paramo: I would want teachers to be the best that they can be but understand if every teacher understood what really just by nature the power they have in the classroom and they influence; that they don’t really have to … use that to guide kids rather than … It’s hard to say. Really be … facilitated and guide learning rather than feeling that you have to be the boss. Kids already know that you are the boss. So you don’t have to have power over them if you will you already have that. You are the teacher and use that in the best way and the kindest way you can. Be good to the kids
Jay Willis: So is that kind of the same advice to give to working with the teachers too, just kind of remember that I shouldn’t lord over them but be collaborative
Deena Paramo: understand that they kind of feel our emotions. You know be the best that we can with kids and we have a rule in our school district … no sarcasm. Cause just talk and you say “I’m just joking” – no. You know the word sarcasm comes from the Latin word sarkam which means strip off the flesh and is that what you want? You know it’s really not, we just don’t want that but sometimes we get along in our day and we don’t realize the impact that we have as a teacher and want kids to come to us. Do they come to us from all different ways and so we just want to be sure and from all different families that we treat them the very best and build positive relationships with them while they’re at school cause people they love us teachers
Jay Willis: as a superintendent what advice do you have for working with principals?
Deena Paramo: With principals I … build their capacity for working with their teachers, build their teams and also want their principals to; we all as leadership learn humility. I think humility is something most people overlook sometimes cause we feel like we have to be powerful or we have to be the boss, but sometime in a leadership servant role, having humility and understanding situations and leading and buying people is the best and so I want to have our principals – and I like competition don’t get me wrong; we are competitive with each other we have fun but we also, when we all succeed, that’s when we’ve done well. When all our kids in our district succeed. Understanding the power, the team, for principals. And then principals should say more at schools build the capacity in your teachers as a team
Jay Willis: Yeah, I like that – competition for the sake of building everyone up and causing all of you to rise to a higher level. Not competition just for the purpose of destroying someone else.
So last question, If you had a time machine and you could hop on this time machine and go back to the point in time when you had just made the decision to go into school leadership or maybe the point at which you decided to go into education and you could give yourself advice, what advice would you give to the younger version of your self
Deena Paramo: Probably go back to that same constraint that I had, that I talked about. I would listen more; listen first rather than trying to solve thing so fast. Don’t go so fast Deena. Just work with people, don’t go too fast, and bring him into it because people solve problems better than one person can. You know like I would solve it for a day but they’ll solve it for the year. Yeah, probably going too fast
Jay Willis: Yeah, that’s good. I could actually heed that advice for myself.
Deena Paramo: It’s probably part of our personality types but that’s why you are learning your constraints
Jay Willis: Especially leaders, you know, you are ambitious and you’re wanting to accomplish a lot it’s easy to kind of, not stop and say, OK, let me just slow down for a minute .
Deena Paramo: Yeah and I just always remember slow down cause if I make others better around me then they’re gonna … then there’s … cause I mean Education is a human resource business and my budget if i had $240 million budget, 83% is spent on human resources whether that’s from a custodian to a lunch person or a bus driver to a teacher / administrator. And we cannot get better as a school system and I don’t think any school system whether it’s public, private cannot get better as a human resource organization unless you build the capacity of the human in the organization and I focus on people, I focus on kids because it’s the teachers that’s doing the work with the kids not me up here.
Jay Willis: That’s great, the company I used to work for had a mission statement, we build people and those people build our company.
Deena Paramo: Correct. And I share this all the time you know with the principals that whatever we say the people might not remember, what we do some people will remember, but no one will forget the way you made them feel so we when we go about our business we’re going to do things with dignity and respect because that’s what people remember.
Jay Willis: Edu Leaders, this has been a great interview today for the show notes of today’s show and other resources, visit educatorslead.com and type the word “Deena” into the search to find more information about this episode. Deena thank you for sharing our journey with us today
Deena Paramo: Thank you! For the invite. It’s good
Jay Willis: And that wraps up another episode of educators lead.
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Edu-leaders, thank you for joining us on Educators Lead. Visit us at EducatorsLead.com for everything we talked about today, free resources and much, much more!
Educators Lead is a podcast created to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. This show is for you if you are interested in educational leadership as an assistant principal, principal, superintendent, teacher or someone who hopes to be a school leader one day. Educators Lead offers inspiration and practical advice to help you lead more effectively. Jay Willis interviews school leaders three days a week to discuss why and when these educators made the decision to move into school leadership, challenges along the journey, and stories that made it all worthwhile. Educators Lead is a great resource for any educator looking to make a greater impact.
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