MEMSPA: A Community of Principals

We are a community of principals dedicated to advocating, leading and learning. We recognize the evolving nature of the principal’s role and support those committed to this important work. All who share in our purpose are welcome to join. Find out more about MEMSPA here.


  • Bond, James Bond

    • Sunday, October 12, 2014
    • Jonathon Wennstrom

    You may not know this, but I'm a huge James Bond fan. I've watched each of the movies more times than I like to admit and occasionally throw out a Bond quote at home to fit the occasion (often to only my own amusement:).  One of my favorite things about the character is that he always knows just what to say and the right way to say other words, he's smooth.  At one of my professional development sessions last year, I had the opportunity to hear Debbie McFalone, an educational consultant, speak on the topic of having difficult conversations.  As a principal, I sometimes have to have difficult conversations with staff.  As a teacher, many of you often have to have difficult conversations with parents.  At the start of the session, she began with the most common ways that difficult conversations are guessed it, they are avoided!  When asked who has used this method, almost everyone (including myself) raised their hand.  We have all done it, whether at home or at work.  Sometimes it's easier to ignore or avoid and hope the issue goes away.  We know how that usually turns out.  Instead, she gave us a simple and direct approach to give constructive feedback through the SBI method. The S represents the Situation, B represents the Behavior, and I represents the Impact. The beauty of the process is that it takes emotions out of the conversation and focuses on a specific situation, the behavior that needs to be changed, and the impact the behavior had on others.  The root of these types of conversations is honesty, trust, and a desire to help (not punish).  This is quite different from the James Bond approach...nothing smooth or clever and you don't walk away after a glib remark.  You stay committed, you listen, and you lend a guiding hand to work together.  As much as I still love the idea of being as cool as Bond, I would rather tackle the difficult topics and engage in meaningful dialogue than stick to the smooth talk.  I would rather wear a staff shirt with pride than wear a tuxedo.  I would rather spend time on school buses then in my Aston Martin.  I'd never trade a single moment as an elementary principal for the intrigue of being a secret agent...but I can still order my martinis shaken, not stirred;)    by Jonathon Wennstrom Follow me on Twitter @JonWennstrom

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  • Starting a Positivity (Successory) Program

    • Friday, September 26, 2014
    • Shanna Spickard

    While we are using the "Successory" [Suhk-ses-uh-ree] program in the educational setting, it could/should be applied to any organization to promote positivity and recognize people.   During a John Draper's engaging presentation on public schools to county-wide educators (teachers, support staff, and administration), he mentioned that we need to work harder at sharing the positive word. Too many people are talking negatively about our teachers, students, and the institution of public education, and it is our job as public educators to not get sucked into that practice. While we may have difficult, burdensome jobs, we are in it to make a difference. Instead of talking about all the struggles (and we know that legislative reps have added to our burden), we need to focus on sharing the good, positive, and accomplishments that happen each and every day in our classrooms, buildings, and districts. Administrators have the job to be a positive ambassador of the schools/districts, but our teachers are the front men and women that the public find the most creditable.

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  • Positivity Blog

    • Friday, September 26, 2014
    • Shanna Spickard

    Shanna's Blog on Positivity 

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The thing I'm looking forward to the most about school starting is
Trying out a new idea
New school supplies
Seeing the excitement on my students' faces

Meetings & Events


Wednesday, December 3 - Friday, December 5, 2014  |  Traverse City, MI

National Experts  |  Michigan Practitioners  |  Professional Connections
Designed to offer elementary and middle level administrators a broad range of current topics necessary for continued professional growth, MEMSPA's Annual Conference is a national caliber event right here in Michigan.