Creating and sustaining a 21st Century teaching and learning culture that meets the diverse needs of each and every student at New Milford High School. I feel that it is essential that all learners in my school be cultivated into critical thinkers, problem solvers, and creationists while developing a sense of meaning and relevancy form the instruction that they receive. My passion for accomplishing these goals is fueled by the New Milford students, teachers, and community members that I am fortunate enough to work with every day. There is no better job in the world than that of Principal at NMHS!
The feedback I received one day from a parent in my District. It reaffirmed to me that my decision to embrace technology, especially the use social media, and use it as a tool to assist me as an educational leader was a wise choice.
My website functions as a digital portfolio by providing a variety of educational stakeholders a glimpse into my work as the Principal of New Milford High School. It has enabled me to become extremely transparent and assist in further establishing my vision of 21st Century leadership.
What has been the most rewarding experience so far? The most fun? The most entertaining?My most rewarding experience was at graduation after my first full year as Principal. To my complete surprise the students of the class of 2007 awarded me with a plaque that bears these words, “To Our Principal, Mr. Sheninger. Thank you for your constant positive outlook, your unwavering enthusiasm for what you do, and your never-ending determination to make New Milford High School the best it can be. We can only hope, many years from now, after all the successes you will undoubtedly achieve, you will look back with much fondness and sweet memories of your first graduating senior class, the Class of 2008. I literally had to choke back tears. My most fun and entertaining experience happened at the same time in June of 2007. In collaboration with OfficeMax, I staged a reality television show called “Schooled” at NMHS. Students in our music department were made to think that they were going to lose the entire program unless they all took this crazy text. With hidden cameras everywhere, they had to rehearse this impossible musical number in a short period of time and then perform it to judges. After they thought the program was doomed I informed them that the entire days was a prank. They were then treated to a private concert by the All American Rejects and received a bag from Office Max valued at $500. The show aired on the CW Network that August and I was able to get the school $60,000 for our participation.
My favorite posts are the ones that celebrate the work of NMHS students and staff. They truly symbolize the headway we are making in terms of changing the school culture and fostering innovative practices. Make no mistake about it, I like to brag and share these accomplishments any chance I get. These posts tend to attract the most attention in terms of viewership and comments because they are authentic, models of innovation, and provide a glimpse as to how we are preparing our students.
My website has been live for about a year. The idea came from a company called Allofek12 after they had read a blog post where I discussed branding in education. We formed a partnership and the end result was the creation of a website that assisted me in developing a brand presence for my institution and myself as an educational leader. My website is constantly evolving and I am forever thankful for the support that I still receive from Allofek12 in making sure that it reflects my vision of 21st Century leadership.
I joined Twitter in March of 2009 and have been engaged in social media to achieve professional goals for almost two years now. The way in which one uses these resources is all a matter of personal preference. In terms of the way in which I use it to establish a Personal Learning Network (PLN), the most effective ways to build a following are to share (resources, ideas, news), interact (answer questions, provide feedback), and have a complete profile (picture, bio), and not lock your tweets.
Any tips that you would give to someone who is looking to do something similar to you?Everyone is different and as a result professional goals vary. The first step is to establish a vision for your digital presence that reflects your role as an educator. Lurking and learning is the best way to get acclimated. See what other educators are doing in social media spaces and infuse those behaviors that best fit into your vision for a digital presence.
Don’t be afraid to take risks, try new ideas, and challenge the status quo in the best interests of kids.
I can see that you have a lot of speaking engagements . . . what topics do you cover?
- Change leadership
- Leading and Learning with Social Media
- Personal Learning Networks
- Harnessing the Power of Educational Technology (for teachers and administrators)
- Web 2.0 Apps for Teaching and Learning
- The Ins and Outs of Twitter for Educators
* For more information about Eric Sheninger, visit his website, www.ericsheninger.com