Partnering in leadership and learning

August 15, 2018 Staff Writer

Co-administrators are, by the very nature of the title, partners in leadership and learning. Assistant and vice principals provide support to the principal, staff, teachers and students, taking on critical projects and policies, managing sites, following trends and ensuring safe, equitable learning environments.

ACSA’s 2018 Elementary Co-Administrator of the Year, Shane Hulin, has proved himself to be well able to take on all that the role requires, and then some. After working for 15 years as an elementary school teacher and three as an instructional coach, Hulin has spent the last two years as assistant principal of Sinclear Elementary School in Ceres Unified School District. In 2018-19, he will be taking over as principal, replacing retiring principal Connie Stark.

For Hulin, the switch from teaching to administration was a deliberate one.

“I wanted to become a school administrator for multiple reasons,” he said. “I believe that teaching children is one of the most important jobs on the planet and we have an obligation to provide the best opportunities to our students. We need to equip our classrooms with the very best teachers, promote their practice, and protect their efforts to ensure high levels of academic and personal success for our students.

“Teaching is a difficult profession and I wanted to be a part of the force moving public education in a positive direction,” he continued. “I listened to the late Rick DuFour as he shared that what we do in education is a matter of life and death. I knew what we do is important, but it wasn’t until I heard the facts related to the differences between life as a high school dropout versus life as high school graduate prepared for college or career, how important our work really is.

“As an administrator, I have the privilege to share in the leadership of educators to have a profound impact on children.”

His commitment to supporting teachers in their work lies at the core of his approach to leadership. This has translated into effective achievements. He began working to implement the Professional Learning Communities model, with a focus on student data to drive instruction. At the core of this culture is student achievement supported by positive relationships, with effective high-quality collaborative instruction.

“The thing that I am most proud of accomplishing so far is bringing the process of Professional Learning Communities to Sinclear,” he said. “Last school year was spent building shared knowledge and a shared vocabulary about PLC. Our staff has embraced the three big ideas that drive the work of a PLC: A focus on Learning, A Collaborative Culture and Collective Responsibility, and A Results Orientation.”

“[Hulin] continually develops in-depth presentations and trainings, gathers professional materials for staff to use as resources, and he is passionate in his vision that high-quality instructional practices are the foundation for student achievement,” Ceres USD Superintendent Scott Siegel said.

Hulin isn’t one to rest on work accomplished, looking to continue the work on PLC as well as “building a strong Response to Intervention program in the coming few years. The 2018-19 school year will be our first step on the path to building an effective multi-tiered intervention system,” he said.

His day-to-day work ranges in scope from implementing transformational changes in school culture to working closely with custodians, groundskeepers and maintenance staff to providing a safe and efficient learning environment. He regularly visits classrooms, as well as spending time in the cafeteria at breakfast and lunch and being present at the end of the day to engage with students and parents.

Though a relative newcomer to ACSA, Hulin has already found value in his membership.

“This is my second year as an administrator and ACSA member. I have appreciated the support that is provided by ACSA through attending the ACSA Region 7 conference last year. There were presenters that were engaging and provided relevant and current information and strategies to assist other administrators.”

“I appreciate the relationships and connections I make from attending these events,” he added.

 The theme of the 2018 Leadership Summit is “Empowering Innovative Leadership.” For Hulin, this requires both clear communication of expectations, and the freedom to be creative and collaborative.

“Before I became the assistant principal at Sinclear Elementary, I was an instructional coach in the Sylvan Union School District. I was part of a group of eight newly hired instructional coaches charged with building a solid coaching program. Both Superintendent Debra Hendricks and Assistant Superintendent Laura Wharff embodied the idea of empowering innovative leadership. They had given our group of coaches certain expectations and then gave us the freedom to collaborate together and work toward creating a program that would positively impact student learning.

“Allowing our group to be creative and introduce new ideas to staff created an energy for work that was second to none.”

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