Grandt-Turke SDJEntering her first year as principal at Harrison Elementary School in the School District of Janesville (WI), Jessica Grandt-Turke thought it imperative that her staff get to know her “whats” or “what was important to her” so that they would have an understanding of her leadership style and vision for the school. During her welcome back speech with staff she shared what was important to her — including the things that she stands for, believes in, and which drive and motivate her.

In our work with teachers and leaders in the School District of Janesville, we introduce What’s Your “What”1 to leaders and teachers so that leaders can best work with teachers and visa versa, and teachers can best work with students and parents. According to the superintendent’s district blog, “staff members at Harrison Elementary were inspired as Principal Grandt-Turke shared her heart and passion, and they were encouraged to do the same by taking time to share their ‘what’ with other staff members.”

According to the blog, Principal Grandt’s shared:

Education is passion, the key to a child’s future. Principal Grandt is driven and is passionate about educating future generations because each child deserves a quality education. In fact, she stated, “It is our obligation to educate children; we are responsible for providing a quality education for each child here.”

Relationships are important. It is crucial to develop strong, positive relationships with co-workers, parents and students. We cannot do this alone, and it is only through relationships that we are able to successfully educate each child. “We need the staff, parents and students to know that we are all in this together.”

I am not only an educator, but also a mom. “It was important that my staff know that I have kids, and that I am a mom because that is the lens that I see things through. In each situation, I ask ‘Is this okay if my son were here? Would I want a situation handled this way if it involved my daughter?’ I’m not going to settle on treating these children differently than I would treat my own children” Principal Grandt-Turke.

I am organized. “If there are piles on my desk, I am probably stressed out.” This gave staff members a nonverbal cue to look for when approaching the principal during the day.

A positive attitude is key! “I wouldn’t want negative, crabby people working with my kids, and I want to provide the same care for other people’s children. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be days where someone needs to vent, but it is a about having a general positive attitude.”

The blog ended with a challenge for readers:

What is your “What?” What drives you as an educator inspires and motivates you every day? Why did you decide to invest in the lives of children…? I want to encourage you to share your “what” here on this blog [and] with your coworkers, encourage one another and remind one another why we are each doing what we do everyday.

We challenge you to do the same…

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What’s Right in Education blog. August 3, 2012. What’s Your “What”?

Principal Grandt-Turke arrived at Harrison School as the Principal in 2010, and in 2013 she was recognized by the School District of Janesville as Administrator of the Year. Harrison Elementary School in the School District of Janesville (SDJ), Wisconsin, believes that educational success for each child can be attained only through the cooperative efforts of school staff, parents, and students. Check out Harrison’s website here and Principal Grandt-Turke’s message here.

Blog focus suggested by Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent, and adapted from her superintendent’s blog at the School District of Janesville, Wisconsin.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we partner with school system leaders to create results-oriented school cultures that become great places to work and learn. Visit us online at to learn more about Studer Education Leader Development Institutes (LDIs) and Evidence-Based Leadership. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a Great Place to Work® and the recipient of a 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Filed under: Our Partners Tagged: Back to School, Education, Grandt-Turke, Harrison Elementary School, How to Lead Teachers to Become Great, Leadership, Principal, Studer Education, Team Development, Welcome Back Speech, What’s Your “What”?

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