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Don Sternberg

About Don Sternberg, EdD

Recognized as New York State’s 2009 Principal of the Year by the National Association of Elementary Principals and by Redbook magazine for leading one of the 72 best elementary schools in the United States, Don Sternberg knows what it takes to walk the high-wire that an elementary school principal faces every day. His 42-plus year career in the public education, as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, college instructor, as well as recognition by peers for his outstanding performance gives Don expertise and credibility that few can match.  In The Principal: Traversing the High-Wire with No Net Below , he shares his insights about how to successfully lead within the public education arena keeping the most important constituency, the students, front and center in all he does.  

Don is adjunct lecturer in educational administration at Stony Brook University. His writing has appeared in Principal magazine as well as the School Administrators Association of New York State Journal. He is also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

From The Principal: Traversing the High-Wire with No Net Below

The minefield that is public school administration is littered with the bleached bones of both new and established principals who could not successfully traverse the period between their first day as a principal to their retirement party. During that time, you will be a high-wire aerialist, traversing the wire from the beginning of your career, as you step off the platform and onto the wire-high above the ground, until you step off the wire at the other end and onto the platform that is retirement. As you place one foot in front of another you are, in most cases and in most situations, alone. As you look at the long, thin strand of wire ahead of you, is that grease you see and who the hell put that there?  

Knowing where the high-wire can be potentially more dangerous is important! It is just as important to be mindful of how you could prevent adding grease to your own high-wire because obviously, you do not want to be your own worst enemy. Knowing where the high-wire is greased will allow you to successfully grow old on the high-wire. Success can simply mean making it to retirement. However, success can also mean (and should mean) facilitating the creation of a school that fully supports student learning and teacher growth. You choose. It is your career; it is your high-wire.