Welcome to the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast. This is a weekly show for ruckus makers -- What is a ruckus maker? A leader who has found freedom from the status quo. A leader looking to escape the old routine. A leader who never, ever gives up.
Up next you can hear Daniel Bauer’s interview with Robert Palazzo. They discuss his role as a principal and building a new playground.
We hope you enjoy the podcast. All the highlights, resources, and next steps can be found below. Listen to the full episode here and learn more at betterleadersbetterschools.com
Robert grew up in Long Island, New York. He started his career as a school psychologist and became involved in developing a school-wide positive behavior program. Robert then decided to pursue his Master’s in Educational Administration and served as a k-3 principal. He then concentrated on trauma-informed practice and restorative discipline. In 2013, he opened a new playground at the school that did not have one for 10 years.
Outside of school, Robert enjoys time with his wife and 2-year-old and as a wedding DJ on the weekend.
Robert talks about how being with the kids is meaningful and checking in with all the departments are the highlights of his day. He likes meeting with the students at any time during the day and really building a relationship with them. Robert talks about meeting the students where they are at and making sure to be there at all times, such as lunch and recess.
“Early on as a school psychologist, I knew I wanted to be around them and know who they are. This is what’s helped me in my career and relationship building with the students.” - Robert Palazzo
Robert tells us that people before him wanted a playground, but it is a tough task to get done. He explains how the teachers did a great job of trying to fill time for the students and donating items so that the students could be happy. Robert was fortunate enough to hear that a grandparent was delighted to help to get the project done. He says that he got a lot of his drive from this and knew that it could be done.
“We raised 32,000 dollars from beginning of the 2017 school year to August 2018 which helped us pick who we really wanted to work with.” - Robert Palazzo
Robert talks about how they were able to do this from projects that the students could work on like a coin drive. He talks about how the community really got behind this project and worked hard to gain money. Having this support helped get the project done and was refreshing to see the community support it.
Robert tells us that meeting students where they are is essential and can only help the child be successful. He encourages his staff to listen to the students and really hear why something is going on.
“Actually listening to your students can help them grow and shows that you really do care for them.” - Robert Palazzo
Robert says that sometimes the staff has to call him in to talk with students and he is okay with this. He just asks that his staff reinforces their rules at school.
Robert says he comes from a small district and how leaders can be in isolation. He sometimes says that you need a soundboard to hear some discussions that helped him sustain himself in the work he does.
Robert also says that he has really enjoyed this service and how it’s kept him positive and excellent connections. He describes this as having a group of people that are there to champion you and support you on the not so good days.
“Listen to a child when they have something to say, those 5 minutes may change that whole child’s life.” - Robert Palazzo
Robert says that children have a lot to say, but they can always have something to share that has meaning to them.
I would continue to fill the school with people that love kids and care for them. Robert would then want to slow down the school process and allow teachers to dive deep into topics.
Power Of Moments by Chip Heath
Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney & Adam Welcome
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