“I never intended to be principal, but the position became available during my internship and I had a major shift of perspective during that time, in which I realized a principal is a teacher with a much bigger classroom,” Taber said.
As a leader and educator, Taber’s years of interacting with young children have afforded valuable lessons, both serious and amusing.
“My first day, I was teaching fourth grade. I thought that if you show children respect, then they’ll show you respect, and I quickly found that they need kindly enforced boundaries,” Taber said, smiling. “Always be caring, compassionate, patient and calm, but hold fast to rules and be firm. Emotional stability is crucial.”
Though not always enjoyable, playing the role of kind disciplinarian has had its gems.
“Jefferson was the pilot pre-kindergarten school, and working with 4-year-olds was a whole new experience for us. One little boy just didn’t understand that rocks are supposed to stay on the ground. We instructed him many times, but he didn’t listen,” she said. “Finally he was in my office and I told him, ‘If you keep picking up rocks, we’ll have to call your mom.’ He crossed his arms, very indignant and said, ‘If you call my mom I’ll tell.’ ‘Tell who?’ ‘My mom.’”
Taber said that the opportunity to talk one-on-one with students has been an opportunity unique to her position to instruct and nurture children who especially need it.
“Kids can share things with me one-on-one that their teachers may be unable to address as they take care of the entire classroom. Establishing a relationship with students is so crucial and cannot be forced, but that’s where you’re truly able to make a difference in a child’s life,” Taber said.