A local woman was having a very bad day recently when her car wouldn't start and she had to borrow her daughter's vehicle so she could get to work.
By RIMSIE McCONIGA
A local woman was having a very bad day recently when her car wouldn’t start and she had to borrow her daughter’s vehicle so she could get to work.
Her mood immediately changed however when she got to David Brewer Elementary School, where her daughter works, to pick up the car keys, heard music playing and saw Principal Craig Idacavage greeting the students with high fives, one by one.
For Craig, this was just another normal day of spreading good vibes and positive actions to set the tone of the day for all the school’s students.
His philosophy is simple. “Our students are in the care of their school setting for a majority of their young lives (eight hours a day, nine-10 months a year). How we treat them, what we teach, and the skills we teach them will impact them for the rest of their lives.”
Building positive relationships with students is a big part of the success of being a good principal and Craig makes this his priority when students are arriving at school each morning.
“We don’t know what their overnight or morning was like before they got to us, but we want to do everything we can to make sure their experience to start their school day is as positive as possible. If we are able to get a smile on our students faces and in the right state of mind, we are able to focus on other aspects of our job,” said Craig.
Making sure that each student feels noticed, appreciated and valued is very important to the principal because he thinks it shows that school staff care for them and are dedicated to maintaining a positive relationship with them.
Parents also are very important to Craig and his goal is to ensure that busy times during drop-offs and pick-ups run smoothly and relatively stress-free and that their children are coming to a positive and safe place.
The importance of positive actions toward kids in enhancing their attitude about school and learning is a major influence for Craig.
“I am sure there are those out there that may not be aware of how their words and actions can affect a child, but we are lucky with the enthusiastic and caring staff we have at David Brewer,” he said. “They are committed to making the eight hours that we have with our kiddos the best that it possibly can be, and doing everything they can to build positive and meaningful relationships with every student.”
Although he has seen a lot of students coming to school who have experienced emotional trauma in their lives which has affected them greatly and has had lasting effects, the staff at David Brewer works even harder with these kids to teach them self-regulation skills and how to be resilient.
They also reassure these children that they will be OK.
Craig has worked in the education field for 16 years and this is his third year as principal at David Brewer.
His initial plan was to be a high school art teacher, but while in college he observed some elementary schools and realized that it would be a much better fit.
He taught all subjects for sixth-graders for five years.
His high school art teacher/basketball coach had a big influence on him by teaching how important character is and the importance of doing the little things right.
“He also modeled how to treat others with dignity and respect,” said Craig.
For young educators just starting their careers, Craig would offer advice about how it all starts with relationships.
“You have to build positive relationships with your students, parents, and co-workers. Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and to try something new. It’s OK to fail, but fail forward – trying new things – and be better off than just continuing to do what you’ve always done in the past.”
For Craig, the greatest reward in education is watching both students and staff do things that at one time they thought were impossible, and to see them evolve and grow throughout the years.
The principal says the next year and a half will be spent totally redesigning the way David Brewer’s staff educates students.
“We will move away from the way school has traditionally looked and operated, and instead of making the students change for the system, change the system to best meet our students and prepare them for success,” said Craig.
His goal is to continue to explore ways to open up the world to more experiences for his students.
“David Brewer Elementary is a great place because of our staff,” said Craig. “We have a dedicated group of adults (not just teachers, but also our support staff), who are always willing to go above and beyond to do what is right for kids.
“They know how important building relationships is, and they are willing to push themselves professionally to do what is right for kids.”