Smith, JodyA Letter from the Principal 

The path to excellence is paved with effective effort.


I have witnessed incredibly proud moments watching our students overcome obstacles through effort, hard work and courage when dealing with situations of painful failure where a hug was the only thing needed.  Adding it all up, the high and the lows were worth every second spent with each of our students.  These truly are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.  I am grateful every day for the opportunity to be called “principal.” 

I have been reminiscing on the first year, remembering when I received the call saying Chevy Chase Elementary was looking for a new principal and I was going to interview for the position.  After hours of reflection, I decided to jump at this amazing opportunity.  It wasn’t until after I made my decision that I realized just how important my role would be.  If I didn’t provide a fun and positive experience for the students under my watch, they may never love learning – because of me.  My leadership, attitude and approach would be critical to their future interest in learning and personal growth and development. 

After being an administrator for many years, I feel compelled to share some of the things I have learned from many great teachers, parents, and community members, I have come to know and admire. 

Principals are always teachers first.  We must teach the rules and disciplines of life as well as how important effort and motivation are to improving and enjoying learning.  Principals are role models.  We must consider the examples we demonstrate to our students through our own actions and encourage compassion, respect and responsibility.  It’s important to always remember that our greatest opportunities to teach are when adversity is present – those “teachable moments.”  Legendary coach John Wooden said it best: “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”  The art of teaching requires us to develop honest and deep interpersonal relationships using effective verbal and non-verbal communications. 

Our leadership provides young students with someone to look up to as well as a personal platform to instill the many critical lessons that naturally occur at school, in the classroom, in the lunchroom or on the playground that can’t be created any other way.  Principals need to understand the power they have and use these moments to encourage and challenge those under their watch to be the best they can be.  Principals can never forget that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

A principal’s influence comes with a significant amount of responsibility.  The mentoring we provide has dramatic impact, in part, on who our young students become.  Over the years I know I haven’t been perfect in my actions, but I’ve always tried to use my failures as an example for them by admitting my mistakes, asking for forgiveness and accepting the responsibility to work harder on myself. 

Principals are one of the greatest influencers of the younger generations in today’s culture.  I want to make sure I use my title of “principal” to teach, motivate and empower our students on how to achieve levels in the classroom, at recess and in their lives they couldn’t have reached without our contributions.  The satisfaction and personal growth one experiences by being a principal can inspire you beyond comprehension.  A serving mentality is the greatest gift a principal can gain and one that permanently attaches to your heart.  The relationship I’ve built with students, staff, parents, community members, and  other principals are ones I will treasure forever.  I am honored to be the “Principal.” 

Jody L. Smith, Principal