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I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What?


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments About the Author Chapter 1. Building a Positive Culture Chapter 2. Structured Visibility Chapter 3. From Delegation to Collaboration Chapter 4. From Collaboration to Change Chapter 5. Supporting Students at Risk Chapter 6. Let's Celebrate Chapter 7. Coaching Strategies at Work Chapter 8. Parents Welcome Chapter 9. Where We Are Now References Index

About the Author

Learn more about Allan Bonilla's PD offerings Dr. Allan R. Bonilla was born in Orlando, FL, a bit before Disney, and was raised in NYC, where he graduated from Forest Hills High School. After a brief stint at Hofstra College in NY, as well as a year and a half at Cal Poly in Pomona, CA, Allan returned to his home state of Florida where he earned his B.A from the University of Miami. Not knowing what career direction to take, he was told that Miami was in great need of teachers, and so there he began a career in education which lasted 40 years. Teaching both English and Spanish at the middle and high school levels, led this educator to a role as a counselor, after earning a Master's at Barry University, and then to an assistant principal position in a half dozen middle schools. Feeling that he had the ideas and beliefs that could lead to creating successful schools, Allan pursued his doctorate in education at Nova University and was appointed principal of one of the largest and most troubled middle schools in the 4th largest school district in the nation. Dr. Bonilla was indeed a "turnaround principal" and was recognized for his school's accomplishments by being selected Principal of the Year out of a field of over 300 K-12 principals. Upon retiring from the Miami-Dade School System, Allan became a mentor to principals in the district and also a trainer with Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Upon relocating to Austin, TX, Allan became one of the first educators in the state to be trained through Region X111 Education Service Center as a Leadership Coach. He has worked with some 50 educators in assisting them to work through difficult situations, to achieve goals, and to celebrate their accomplishments. In addition to Coaching, Allan is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences including ASCD, NAESP, NASSP, High Schools That Work, National Charters, Texas Charters, and Florida Charters. He is also a faculty member of the National Principals Leadership Institute in NYC. Allan's family includes his wife, two sons and their wives, and three genius grandchildren. Spare time, if any, is taken with reading to keep current with the changes and latest developments in the world of education.


"The theme of visibility presented has already challenged my thinking and provoked reflection on my current and previous practice. It has helped me to see gaps and holes that may have been there. This text would support my work with principals in helping them to see these as key traits/practices." -- Arnna Graham, Leadership Coach
"As a professor in the graduate school of education, these strategies would be an excellent addition to teacher education courses, school operations, and management." -- Steven Roth, Professor
"The how-to guide, coupled with practical experience, adds authority to the author's voice. With essential questions at the end of the chapters, this work will provide a thoughtful and compelling read for new and veteran administrators alike." -- Rick Yee, Principal
"I am taken by Allan's approach to learning and leadership. He recognizes that culture matters - a lot - and he offers specific strategies to help everyone in a school learn and grow." -- Thomas R. Hoerr, Author, Columnist, and Head of the New City School
"I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What? provides a practical guide for building a school on the vision that each student matters. Given the right organizational structure and climate, teachers will take ownership of problems, will implement proven, practical solutions and will grow from good to great when they are supported by their principals. Middle grades and high school principals serving in low-performing, challenging schools will gain great wisdom and insight for creating a high-touch, high-performance culture for students and teachers that will result in improved outcomes in attendance, performance, and student engagement. This book provides a vision for making parents a partner in the process, celebrating student and faculty growth experiences, and building healthy competition." -- Dr. Gene Bottoms, Founder/Director
"I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What? by Dr. Allan Bonilla is the kind of book that appears once in a decade. Bonilla became the principal of a large, failing school in Dade County, Florida, succeeded in turning the school into an exemplary school, remained in that school for fourteen years, and tells his story through evidence-based examples of team building, school culture, principal visibility and so much more. This book will appeal to any school administrator interested in leadership and practical options for helping a failing school become better to making a gifted school better and anything in between. It is destined to become a landmark book." -- Mark F. Goldberg, Ph.D., Education Writer and Education Book Editor
"I am taken by Allan's approach to learning and leadership. He recognizes that culture matters - a lot - and he offers specific strategies to help everyone in a school learn and grow." -- Thomas R. Hoerr, Author, Columnist, and Head of the New City School
"In this immensely practical and powerful book, Dr. Allan Bonilla avoids the typical slogans about school culture and instead provides readers with the hard truths of leadership. Although Bonilla is a successful turnaround school leader, this book is valuable for leaders of high-performing schools as well as those in need of significant change. Moreover, both new and experienced leaders will benefit from the relentless emphasis on human connections in these pages. I particularly appreciate the author's iconoclastic approach to leadership visibility, as he demonstrates that visibility in the lunchroom, hallways, and sidewalks is as important as visibility in the classroom. Looking through the eyes of the student, Bonilla appeals to leaders to make a human connection, preferring relationships over checklists and impact over appearances. Finally, this book provides an impressive mandate for the support of elective subjects, including arts and athletics, to save students from academic failure. Bonilla poignantly reminds us that electives are not a competitor for academic achievement, but a necessary support for them. The "afterthoughts and reflections" at the end of each chapter make this an ideal book for faculty book studies. I hope that it will generate vigorous discussions, constructive controversy, and as the author suggests, a few tears, all in the pursuit of a better understanding of helping our students." -- Dr. Douglas Reeves
"This book is sure to be a must-have for every beginning and experienced principal. With Allan's experience as a successful principal in a struggling school, combined with his knowledge of leadership coaching, readers will gain inspiration and solid strategies to be equally successful." -- Karla Reiss, President
"As a veteran of twenty-one years in the principalship, I recommend this work to new and even seasoned principals who wish to continue to grow professional. This is a thought-provoking work- one from which we can all learn." -- David G. Daniels, Principal
"I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What? provides a realistic, relevant view of how to be a principal in a changing environment. The power of the ideas and strategies is seen in the success of the school! This book is a must read for those studying to be a principal or newly placed in a principalship." -- Dr. Elizabeth J. Lolli, Superintendent
"I'm In the Principal's Seat, Now What? is a structured recipe for what matters most in school turnaround. The significant strategies are a visual road map for leading change and providing a quality education and high achievement for all students." -- Suzanne Link Gimenez, Retired School Turnaround Principal
"It has been a privilege and pleasure over the past two years to listen to Allan as he shared with me his dream of writing a book that would assist in the transformation of low-performing schools. I quickly realized how much value this book would be to leaders of the many low-performing schools I was visiting as a turnaround consultant. I look forward to recommending this book to all my clients!" -- Mike Cave, MEd, School Turnaround Specialist and Certified Educational Leadership Coach
"I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What? is a practical, yet powerful book that provides valuable insight into time-tested principles needed to turnaround any institution of learning. This back-to-basics book is designed to help school leaders create a culture of academic excellence." -- Eric Acosta, Ed.S., Principal

"As a rookie administrator, I was placed under the supervision of Dr. Bonilla. I quickly learned that creating a positive culture, establishing a mission of academic success, and being visible are essential keys to being an effective school leader.

Dr. Bonilla uses simple and pragmatic approaches to organizational leadership that promotes universal buy-in from all stakeholders. His experience and on-the-job strategies should be a guide for all school and/or district administrators." -- Manuel Ferrer, Ed.D.
"In his book I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What?, Dr. Allan Bonilla has done a masterful job of depicting responsibilities and duties that a school principal faces on a daily basis in the performance of his or her duties. I consider this book a "must read" for every aspiring school principal who wishes to gain an insight into the role that he or she will play as a school principal." -- Dr. Ada B. Hernandez, Retired Principal
"For ten years I've had the personal and professional gratification of closely and enthusiastically observing Dr. Allan Bonilla "walk the talk" and "be in the Principal's seat" at Palm Springs Middle School in Miami. As his consultant on instruction, curriculum, and student learning, his leadership engendered one of the most exciting and productive learning communities I've encountered as a consultant, teacher, leader, and professor. This book, I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What? is a 'must-resource' for every serious school leader!" -- Dr. Clint Bunke, President
"'If you talk the talk, then you must walk the walk.' Dr. Allan Bonilla is one prime example of an administrator who did just that in turning around a school that was at the lower rungs of a ladder and elevated the staff and students through the prescription he set forth. The triad of relationships, collaboration, and team building are the key ingredients to changing a school's culture. Allan orchestrated and coordinated the faculty, the staff, and all of the stakeholders so the students could achieve their best. His plan was carried out daily by being visible throughout the day (morning, afternoons, evenings, & weekends) to parents, teachers, students, community leaders and this was accomplished before me as one of Dr. Bonilla's assistant principals. It is a prescription that will work at any school, any business, or at place where "teamwork" is the key to success. The principles Allan sets forth are the key ingredients for success in any setting where people working together can achieve anything if they work as a team. I, for one, am proud to have been a part of the success that Dr. Allan Bonilla achieved through his vision many years before this educational trend came into being." -- Howard Popowitz, Retired Administrator
"I'm in the Principal's Seat, Now What? is a must read for all current and aspiring school site administrators. The book focuses on developing and implementing effective strategies that will transform schools from ordinary to exemplary learning institutions. The book was authored by Dr. Allan Bonilla who distinguished himself serving as Principal of one of the district's most challenging schools. Dr. Bonilla is recognized as an effective Principal, having received the Principal of the Year distinction from the nation's fourth largest school district." -- Delio G. Diaz, Executive Director
"Dr. Bonilla's book is a true and refreshing account and how-to guide. His extensive experience and knowledge result in a powerful combination that guarantees achievement and educational excellence." -- Martha Montiel, Administrative Director

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