There’s a new vibe at Kiser Middle School in Greensboro, NC. Why? It’s because of the new principal, Gerald (Ged) O’Donnell. I met him briefly last year at the end of school when I was volunteering in the office. Research says it takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. He had a swift gate to his walk, big smile on his face, confident voice and good eye contact. That was my first impression and the students at the beginning of this school year told their new principal, “I feel like we are at a different school.”

The first day of school the Kiser band was playing in the parking lot to meet the students arriving on the buses, teachers wore green polo shirts with the Kiser Pride tiger logo and they were in the hallways greeting students. I dropped by the office to say good morning to my favorite school secretary, Annette Garvey. When I saw crowds of people in the office I offered to stay and lend a hand. I happily greeted parents and lost students and escorted them to their classrooms. People were smiling in the halls, greeting each other and you could just feel the good energy.

This energy was due in large part to their inspiring new leader. I don’t even dread the weekly voice mail messages now on my home phone and cell phone. “Good morning Kiser Parents, this is Ged O’Donnell, your student’s proud principal with a weekly Tiger update!” He delivers the message with good cheer. His email signature even says, ‘Proud Principal’ under his name. When news spread of the school wide goal to raise $30,000 to update all the technology and an anonymous donor was going to help match milestone markers, I was excited for the students and teachers. All of the kids got involved and a competition between classrooms was initiated. Kids were bringing in change, parents were writing checks, companies were becoming sponsors. The momentum was exciting and I’m sure Principal O’Donnell never doubted for a second they wouldn’t reach their goal. When it was all said and done, students were recognized in an assembly with prizes for their efforts. Leaders know the value of appreciating their team, whether its students or employees.

My daughter played on the volleyball team this year and we asked at one of the matches if the undefeated team could be featured in my husband’s monthly neighborhood newsletter, he lit up like a firework! Now she’s playing soccer for the tigers and Principal O’Donnell met the team before loading the bus before an away match to give them encouragement. He showed up at one of their games last week with that big smile and was cheering them on by name. WOW! When I had extra tickets to a rotary concert at the ballpark, my first thought was to share them with the Kiser teachers. “With teamwork, accountability and consistency (T.A.C.), we can move Kiser Middle School and ALL of our students from ‘Good to Great’.” – Ged O’Donnell

Who do you need to inspire today or give some appreciation to?

In this season of Thanksgiving, thanks to our school, civic and business leaders for making a positive impact on the lives of students, communities and employees. Each day is a day of new beginnings. Choose to be a catalyst for change to positively impact the way you interact with others.