October is National Principal’s Month, and we’re introducing you to each of our building principals with a short Q&A. Suzanne Paulson leads Catskill Academy and our district-based class at Ichabod Crane HS, as well as our art teacher, speech therapists and OT/PT staff.
Tell us about your “road to becoming a principal” – how did you end up in this role?
I have always loved working with students and people in general. After 17 years as a school counselor, I wanted to use some of the skills I had developed in that position and use them in an administrative role. The role of principal always seemed very daunting to me so I decided to take assistant principal positions at first, which gave me the training and confidence to move forward and become a principal.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Seeing students and staff get excited about their learning, and collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders to effect change. It is extremely rewarding for me to see the efforts of a team achieve positive results together.
How do you know that you are making an impact on your students?
So, when kids greet me and invite me to be a part of their lives, I know I’m doing something right. On my first day of school at Catskill, a former student gave me a big hug when he saw me and realized I would be his principal- that made my day! Also, when staff come to me with concerns or new ideas, I know I’m headed in the right direction- they wouldn’t seek me out otherwise.
What is one surprising thing about your job that most people wouldn’t expect?
I believed there was more solo work, before I went into administration. So, I was surprised (and guess that others would be too) to learn that effectively working with/learning from others, communicating consistently and clearly, and encouraging every member of the school community – students and staff- are far more important than “ being the boss.”
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I love to travel, downhill ski- I am an adaptive snow sports instructor with STRIDE, and I love live music. I enjoy singing too!