The Power of the Administrator by Lizzie Sider

Who I Am

You may be wondering why you are reading an article written by an 18-year-old who has yet to go to college or make a monthly payment on any major asset. I still have a lot of life to experience. However, I am already years into a professional music and acting career, I am the spokesperson for multiple organizations such as GWEN (Global Women’s Empowerment Network) and PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and I am a passionate advocate for bully prevention.

After years of enduring bullying in my early school years, the words of my dad, “Nobody has the power to ruin your day,” made me ultimately realize that the true power to overcome one’s own struggles comes from within oneself. Looking back now, it was a life lesson that I was lucky to learn early on, and I have made it my mission to share that with others through my “Nobody Has The Power To Ruin Your Day” tour. In the last few years, I have personally visited more than 350 elementary and middle schools nationwide, performing my original bully prevention assembly that combines my personal story of being bullied with positivity, encouragement and music.

I recently released a free, interactive, on-screen adaptation of my live assembly, and as of January 2017, the video is currently being used in 3,100 schools representing about 1.8 million children worldwide.

The Importance of a Positive School Culture

I have visited schools in well-to-do neighborhoods and low-income neighborhoods, with students and administrators of all backgrounds, races, religions, ethnicities and social norms, in many diverse corners of our country. One of the fundamental truths I have learned is that kids are kids, and once they are given the opportunity to do good and see that it’s “the cool thing to do,” they jump right on board. However, if a school environment is clouded with negativity and a lack of positive leadership, the whole school community suffers. Perhaps the most important thing that I have observed through my experiences is that the school administrators are the ones who set the tone for the school culture.

It All Starts With You As school administrators, you are in a uniquely powerful position. You have the ability to make ripples in your school, positive or negative, and to influence those around you, positively or negatively. Here are three ways I have seen administrators take advantage of their position, for the benefit of the whole school:

1. Be the example for everyone in your school. Your students and fellow administrators look up to you, so set a good example through the way you conduct yourself, your demeanor toward others and the way you talk about your work. If you are invested and purposeful, everyone else will be, too.

2. Establish mutual respect. Mutual respect is the key to opening all doors for communication and progress among teachers, students and parents. If another feels they are being talked down to, the potential to approach a conversation or any matter openly and respectfully is immediately shut down.

3. Make everyone feel a part of your team. Acknowledge work well done and get to know those around you, because they’re your teammates. Everyone will work best together when they all feel part of the team. This includes other administrators, teachers, students, parents and support staff alike.

Be the Change You Want to See

Your work is so important, and it’s not to be underestimated. As administrators, you set the bar for everyone in your school community with regard to how to act, how to speak, how to regard others and how to lead. Help everyone become the best of themselves. Be the change you want to see in your corner of the world, and inspire others to do the same.

AFSA will hold a bullying prevention webinar featuring Lizzie Sider on March 21 at 2 p.m. EDT. Register at AFSAadmin.org/bully-preventionwebinar/

This article was featured in the Volume 88, Winter/Spring 2017 issue of AFSA’s newsletter, The Leader. To read the newsletter in its entirety visithttp://bit.ly/2nJdsIN.