Mrs. McCormick, the new principal at El Cerrito High School, isn’t new to being a principal. Prior to ECHS, Mrs. McCormick was a principal in the San Francisco Unified School District, the Oakland Unified School District, and at a local elementary school.
Mrs. McCormick didn’t always want to be a principal though. “To be honest, I didn’t want to be a principal. I wanted to be a teacher.” Mrs. McCormick met a man named John Mayer when she was teaching at King Middle School. “He watched one of the classes I was teaching and he was like ‘you’re really good. You should consider leadership.’ He walked me through this whole process applying to UC Berkeley to the Principal Leadership Institute.” Mrs. McCormick graduated the institute in 2007 and has worked in administration ever since.
When asked what the best experience she had at a school, Mrs. McCormick stated, “There’s no such thing as the best experience. As a principal, I try to make everyday better than the day before.” Mrs. McCormick has three rules for being a principal: 1) she tries to make herself laugh really hard everyday at something, 2) she tries to have something touch her heart so much that she changes the way she thinks, and 3) she tries to make sure that someone knows everyday that she sees them and that they are a valuable person and that she really cares, whether it’s the staff, the teachers, or just a parent.
Mrs. McCormick didn’t apply to become the new principal at El Cerrito High School. She was actually applying for a job at a local elementary school. When she went to do the final interview, the administration told her that she had a job, however they wanted her to consider another school in El Cerrito. After thinking about it and talking to her husband, she went for it. Next thing she knows, she’s being interviewed and got offered the job. “So really, the job chose me and I do think that it was a perfect fit”, McCormick said, “I’m very happy to be here.”
When questioned about how she plans on building leadership, she answered, “Year one is a difficult year to build leadership because I have to do a lot of watching.” Mrs. McCormick says she tries her best to reach out to see what people want to do. Principal McCormick is open to teaching other people about principaling if that is what they want to do. She says the best way to build leadership is to do it by example. As a leader, Mrs. McCormick wants to “protect people from the things that would take their satisfaction away from their work and then try to teach them how not to get into those situations again. On the positive, when people want to take a risk, you encourage them to take a risk because without a risk, there is no reward.”
By the end of the year, Mrs. McCormick hopes to make people happy this school year. She hopes to make students and families and teachers proud participants of the El Cerrito High School experience. She plans on doing that by encouraging them to take care of themselves. “Number one priority to everybody is to put you first because you’re no good to anyone if you’re not taking care of you.” Mrs. McCormick encourages self-care.
With the students, Mrs. McCormick walks around the campus trying to make herself available and trying to make people smile, but also seeing who’s checked in and who’s checked out. With the adults, she tries to remind them to take care of themselves. Mrs. McCormick knows that during certain times in the school year, people tend to burn out, but she says, “Hopefully by the hundredth day, everyone will have invested something in themselves around self-care.”
Principal McCormick believes that having a friendly relationship with students is important because “…students are priority. It goes students, staff and then parents.” Mrs. McCormick has a triangular hierarchy with the students at the top and staff and parents at the bottom and she’s in the middle navigating student, staff, and parent needs. Mrs. McCormick said “the sky’s the limit” and that’s great words coming from our new principal.
So, the next time you see Mrs. McCormick, make sure you say hi and welcome her to El Cerrito High.