After working as a teacher, Erin Roche felt that he could do more as an administrator to improve local school leadership. As Prescott Magnet Cluster School’s principal, he sees the school’s success as a direct result of great teachers. From there comes student achievement, a great culture of high expectations and collaboration. We sat down and talked to Erin about his experience as principal of Prescott for the past eight years.
The Fund: You said that you entered administration to facilitate teacher collaboration and to create a culture focused on kids. Have you succeeded in this mission as principal of Prescott Magnet Cluster School?
Erin Roche: Yes! It is a totally different school than eight years ago when I began. There are three really big differences. First is student achievement. According to 2012 Scantron, the school was in the 32nd percentile in reading and the 50th percentile in math. This past year, we’re at the 95th percentile in both reading and math. Second, the culture is totally different. The school is student-centered and teachers really care about kids. We do all sorts of fun projects and also have very high expectations. Finally, my teachers work really well together. There is deep collaboration and teachers are having conversations with each other, not just administrators
The Fund: What do you enjoy about being principal of an elementary school?
ER: I taught in elementary school and I had an opportunity to go back. I like being able to see kids grow over time. I can have kids here for up to 11 years. These are the most formative years of your life. We have the great opportunity to mold a kid for the rest of their life and we take that really seriously. Whatever your success is in high school or college it is because of what happened in elementary school.
The Fund: What does your community involvement look like at Prescott?
ER: There are many different facets to that. We have started a couple of new things with family education workshops and alumni relations. Universities do a good job with keeping up with alumni. High schools do somewhat of an okay job. Elementary schools do nothing. It is stunning to me that this is the longest time children will be in any school, yet there are very few long term relationships. So next year, we are going to start an alumni pizza party a couple of times during the school year to keep kids connected and to let them know that we are still behind you.
The Fund: What excites you about the future of education?
ER: Education is no longer a black box; we do not have to wonder what is in it or how it happens. We know how every kid can be successful. As long as there is a principal who is hiring well and making sure culture is all about kids, and there are high expectations and teachers who care about kids, then school is going to be successful. We know the ingredients to make a great school.