Principal Shoutout: Megan Kehr, Sor Juana Elementary
Alicia Torres is a first grade humanities teacher and Leah Stephens is a K-4 music teacher. They both teach at Sor Juana Elementary School, and are shouting out their principal, Megan Kehr, who founded the school in 2018.
Q: How would you describe your principal?
Mrs. Stephens: Our principal is super positive and respectful. She respects us as professionals and people, and she honors our time and our work. She considers everyone’s thoughts, and even though at the end of the day she has to make tough decisions, I always feel like I’m being heard and supported. Also, the fact that she just had a baby in April and that she still managed to keep up with everything is just incredible.
Ms. Torres: I agree: she is very positive, very energetic. I’m very grateful to work for a leader who considers all perspectives. So I’ve really felt like I am valued, and I get the opportunity to grow with her.
Q: If you could describe your principal in three words, what would they be and why?
Ms. Torres: It is definitely hard to stick to just three! But I would say visionary, realistic and human. Visionary and realistic because she wants us to be imaginative and creative about our teaching, but she’s still practical about how we get there. And she’s human; she understands that we are more than just teachers. We are community members, parents, family members. And so, whether it’s to benefit our professional growth or our personal wellbeing, she understands the human aspect of being a teacher as well.
Mrs. Stephens: I would say, realistic, optimist and intuitive. You have to be all those things to create a school from the ground up, right? She has big ideas and isn’t afraid to try things out, but she is very realistic about breaking things down to accomplish them piece by piece. She’s also very intuitive: she gets me and knows what type of worker I am. She knows how to support each person in the way that they need to be supported.
Q: What is your favorite memory with your principal?
Ms. Torres: We had a Spirit Day: animal day. And because I had come from a previous school that was quite strict, when kids told me about some of the ways that they were planning to dress, I told them: “This isn’t Halloween. Just wear a shirt that has your favorite animal; dress appropriately for school.”
But the next day, I came to school greeted by my principal in a full cow costume! At that moment, first, I felt guilty for telling my kids not to dress up, but second, I knew that I was in a new place. She made me realize that I could let go of what I had been restricted to do in the past, and that having a little fun on a spirit day was what is supposed to happen! That’s just who she is: she can be outrageous and fun but still make sure that we get done the work we need to get done.
Mrs. Stephens: We actually had a Walt Disney day later that week. And I had not participated on animal day, so I actually went to the store and bought a Cinderella fairy godmother costume. Principal Kehr decided to be Belle—and she actually did a costume change, too! She wore a regular Belle costume, and then in the middle of lunch, she changed into Belle’s fancy yellow dress! So, she is not afraid to have fun and to show her silly side. Another spirit day was fruits and vegetable day, and she was a piece of watermelon and our assistant principal was a carrot.
There’s just this atmosphere where we can have fun and still learn. She’s just as excited about planning for Spirit Days as she is for good test scores.
Q: What message, if any, do you have for your principal this year?
Mrs. Stephens: Because of remote learning, I miss seeing her every day. I miss being at school, period, but part of the reason I miss being at school is because I miss checking in with her. She always wants to hear about your teaching. She’s always in the classroom, so she’s super engaged and in tune with what’s going on. I miss our community, and she is so much a part of what makes it so fun and welcoming.
Ms. Torres: I agree. We used to have a big school community meeting in the morning—and she was always at the door, greeting not just us, but all of the kids as well. I miss seeing that connection: I just admired watching her being able to greet every kid and make them feel welcome, especially at the start of the school year. It’s just so nice to see a principal really engaged with the students.
We all miss her. We appreciate everything she’s trying to do remotely. It’s hard, and I appreciate that she has our backs. And at the same time, I hope she knows we have her back too.
Q: Is there anything else that you want to tell us about your principal?
Mrs. Stephens: I appreciate being hired. I appreciate the opportunity that she gave us to start a school with her and build a school culture from the ground up. I owe so much of my teaching ability to her support as a mentor.
Ms. Torres: I’m so grateful for this opportunity—that she saw something in me and wanted to bring me on board for growing a new school. I feel so fortunate she chose me to be a part of her vision, and have learned so much from her innovative leadership.
To learn more about #PrincipalPrideChi and Principal Appreciation Month, click here.