For parents, teachers, and everyone who remembers being a student, an unforgettable glimpse into the inner workings of school, from a life-long educator.
Children spend most of their waking hours in school, exploring boundaries, forming important relationships, and of course, learning. But as you step into the unique vantage of the principal’s office, you experience first-hand the wide range of characters, efforts, and decisions that ensure all students thrive.
Kristin Phillips takes us through a school year, from the excitement of fall, through the long days of winter, and into the renewed energy that comes with spring. Through her eyes, we experience the increasingly complex education system: students with unique learning needs, teachers bringing their practice into the 21st century, and the parent-partners who have entrusted their children to the school system.
Myles, a precocious five-year-old, introduces himself by swearing a blue streak on the first day of school. He finds solace in a paper box rocket ship in Phillips’s office. Rafi, a grade 8 boy oozing with attitude, makes a very uncool choice to lunch with the principal. And Harriet, a struggling teacher, is oblivious to the fact her students are bored to tears. Throughout the story, Phillips develops caring relationships with the people who need her the most, as she works with colleagues to create an environment where everyone succeeds.
But principals are people, too, and Phillips also recounts the demands on her as a single mother with three teenagers, one of whom suffers from significant mental health issues. As an educator, she tries to help students coping with similar problems and reveals a heartfelt story of dealing with the system, from both sides.
With honesty and compassion, Phillips gives a human face to the joys of school, and the very real difficulties educators work to overcome, one year and one student at a time.
About the author
Kristin Phillips is an educator and retired elementary school principal with a passion for educational change. She has worked closely with teachers and administrators at the school and board levels to bring about pedagogical reforms based on current research and practices. Her blog, Edubits, is read internationally. A TEDx talk, Spiraling the Curriculum, presented in 2016 in Kitchener, Ontario, engages the audience in learning how to develop curriculum that “sticks.” She is close to her three adult children and they still enjoy pizza on Friday nights. She lives in Toronto, Ontario. Visit her online at KristinPhillipsAuthor.com.
“Phillips reveals, from the perspective of a principal, the complex human network of a grade school. She sprints from problem to opportunity, displaying compassion, common sense, and leadership. The varied roles she plays as a school principal include coach, consoler, co-parent, monitor, mediator, and mentor. . . . For people with children in elementary school (or who recall their own time there), this is an illuminating and moving account of the place where those children spend the majority of their waking hours.”
— DAVID GOLDBLOOM, MD, bestselling author and senior medical advisor at CAMH
“Phillips writes with humour, insight, compassion, and full-on authenticity as she takes the reader into the world of education through her journey as an elementary school principal. Her stories are rich with multilayered complexity and humanity. Phillips’ writing is so engaging, I felt I was by her side as she interacted with students, parents, and staff. Anyone who has attended school, has a child who has attended school, or who has worked in the school system, will relate to Phillips’ stories. This book put a smile in my heart.”
— BARBARA ARROWSMITH-YOUNG, author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain
“Phillips understands story, pace, and when a story should end. To find all three in a writer is rare. Some of the chapters, about the daily life of a middle and high school principal, finish so perfectly, and with such ability, that one always wants more while reflecting on all the connective tissue holding the metanarrative together. . . . There is a human connection and mentoring element to this book that will save lives and teaching careers . . . I wish I had a Mrs. Phillips back when I was a young rapscallion.”
— JESSE THISTLE, #1 bestselling author of From the Ashes
“I highly recommend this book. As a parent of school-age children, I gained a much greater understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in our education system. A fascinating look at student and teacher relationships and the many challenges within the system. I was absorbed until the very last page!”
— CEA SUNRISE PERSON, bestselling author of North of Normal
“Before I was a writer, I worked as a public high school teacher for nearly twenty years. . . . Where some might perceive shorter workdays and summers off, the reality is that teaching is a deeply difficult, demanding, all-encompassing, and rewarding job. In her book For the Love of Learning, retired educator Kristin Phillips does remarkable work in capturing the complexities of a career in education. . . . A deeply engaging and validating book. It’s a must-read for educators, parents, politicians, and everyone in between.”
— AMY STUART, bestselling author of the Still Mine series