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Love Thy Principal

May 8, 2009 | by Rabbi Noach Orlowek

Teachers are human too. A little bit of effort on your part can go a long way to helping your child in the classroom.

I have a secret to tell you: teachers are human. Even principals are human.

Each day, they guard your child's life and shape his or her future. When was the last time you thanked them?

I say a special prayer every morning: Thank God for not making me a principal!

I taught elementary school for a dozen years. I was even a principal. Tough jobs. During that time, the parent of one of the kids in my class taught me how to be a parent.

He used to come every Friday and ask me how his child was doing. I knew perfectly well that over the course of Shabbat, when he'd sit down with his kids and find out just what they'd learned during the course of the week, he'd find out if I knew what I was talking about or not. There were 25 children in the class, but you can be really sure that by Friday, I knew just where his child was.

Because he expended extra effort with me, I expended extra effort on his son.


I learned from his example. Once my kids were in school, I made a habit of stopping in to say hello to their teachers every few weeks. They got to know me and saw that I was committed to my child's education.

I always made sure, while I was there, to give them a compliment. I'd write a note every Sunday morning or after Shabbat (when I too would find out just what they'd done in school that week), telling them that it's evident how hard they work and how much I appreciate the effort they put into my child.

It's not easy to think of a new way each week to say the same thing, but I did it. And it's worth it.

If you invest enough time in advance, then you can go to your child's teacher and say, "Please, give my child some additional encouragement. Give him a smile. Show him you're happy with his work, with his efforts."

You can ask them for extra effort. Even if the teacher doesn't do it for everybody, they could do it for your child -- because you took the time to build a relationship and acknowledge their hard work.

Principals are more complicated. Generally, "fire fighter" is the best description of their job. They run around putting out fires -- taking care of the million different crises that pop up each day.

I say a special prayer every morning: Thank God for not making me a principal!


I've been in that position in junior high school and in elementary school. It's a hard job. Be patient with your principal and be aware that you are one of hundreds of parents to whom she or he is accountable.

Give as many sincere compliments as you can, and then you'll be able to call in your credit and ask them to give your child that special attention needed to address his or her needs.

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