Spectrum360 is happy to congratulate Tara Hayek on her new role as principal of Academy360 Lower School. A part of the organization for 31 years, Tara’s career has been on an ever-upwards trajectory, having served as a Teacher Assistant, Classroom Teacher, Behaviorist, and Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction, and most recently, Assistant Principal.
We’re excited to see Tara take up the new challenge of leading the Lower School. We recently sat down with Tara to talk about her promotion and plans for the future.
You’ve been a part of the Academy360 family for many years, how have you found the transition to principal?
Because I was lucky enough to be assistant principal for so many years, and was involved in so much with Gina [Catania], there really hasn’t been much that I wasn’t familiar with. So that helped make the transition very smooth.
As principal, the role comes with high expectations and the need to learn to navigate various challenges and complexities of school administration that I didn’t face as assistant principal – dealing with disciplinary issues, managing budgets, and collaborating with leadership teams from the other campuses. But it’s a good challenge!
What has been one of the changes in the day-to-day aspects of the job?
As the assistant principal my responsibilities were primarily focused on the Preschool Elementary Program, so now as principal I’m working on building a presence across the entire school. A goal is to know all of the staff across the entire school and all of our students and to see our needs and to build relationships.
What are some things you hope to achieve as a leader, now that you’re responsible for staff across the entire school?
With staff, one of my goals as principal is to create a positive and welcoming culture. I have been researching ways to do so and I’m enlisting staff as volunteers to become part of a “Culture Committee” to help accomplish this goal. In order to build a great culture you really need staff on board with the same values and the understanding of what a positive culture is and then find ways to maintain it. All staff are contributing members of our school culture and I value their input.
I’m also looking to set some attainable expectations by providing professional development for our staff in order to really enhance the knowledge and skills that they currently have and help them advance professionally. Professional development that’s specific to our population of students, and specific to the varying levels of staff that we have that suits where they are in their career, whether just starting out, intermediate or advanced.
And as a leader and educator, what are your goals for the student body?
For us to provide the highest quality educational experience that will promote their social and emotional growth, academic skills and personal development. I want to ensure that each student has the most appropriate IEP, one that reflects their strengths, needs and the goals that we should have for them.
What is one goal you hope to personally achieve in this new role?
I am what I consider a lifelong learner and I really enjoy gathering knowledge. I would like to continue with my own professional development to analyze the data we have, monitor student progress and provide feedback to teachers, to be sure that we have evidence-based strategies and intervention to support student achievement.
The future sounds bright! What would you say is your “mission statement” as principal?
I recognize that the role of principal requires strong leadership skills, as well as effective communication, decision-making abilities, and how to handle diverse situations, both positive and challenging. And that’s something I look forward to doing, to embrace all of those and to do my very best to unify the school community.
My mission statement is to provide every student with exceptional and individualized learning opportunities. I am dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive environment that promotes social, emotional, and academic growth for all students. I believe in building strong relationships with families, educators, and sending district team members to ensure that the students receive the support and resources they need to succeed. The ultimate goal is that the students become as independent as possible and become contributing members of society.
Join us in congratulating Tara on her new role!