• Lizzie Sider


As a principal, you set the bar for everyone in your school community regarding how to act, how to speak, how to regard others, and how to lead. It is your job to help everyone become the best version of themselves. A positive school culture may be only an aspiration or idea to some, but do your best to implement it in your school, and turn it from an idea into a practice. And then, principals, make it the principle. -Lizzie Sider


Article by Lizzie Sider

Mar. 15, 2017

Web article: http://blog.nassp.org/2017/03/15/positive-school-culture-make-it-the-principle/

Additional article links:

NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals)

NASSP Student Leadership Initiative | Global Citizenship – Students Changing The Word Together

Guest post by Lizzie Sider

Lizzie Sider is an 18-year-old singer/songwriter born and raised in Boca Raton, FL. She is also the founder of the bully prevention foundation Nobody Has The Power To Ruin Your Day, through which she has personally visited over 350 schools with her original bully prevention assembly. In her post below, Lizzie offers principals some observations related to the importance of promoting a positive school culture. Lizzie’s endeavor highlights key values all global change ambassadors should possess, including promoting awareness/perspectives and empathetic action.

To see what global change ambassadors are working on and to learn more about NASSP’s student leadership initiative on global citizenship, visit makingglobalchange.org.

In elementary school, I was badly teased, excluded, and ridiculed. I would come home from school crying almost every day, feeling defeated and not wanting to return. The strength that I ultimately gained through the process of overcoming the bullying inspired me to create my first bully prevention assembly, which combined music with messages of bully prevention, positivity, and encouragement. To date, I have led this same assembly at over 350 schools and before 150,000 children nationwide. My newest project, a free bully prevention video package, launched in December 2016 and is currently being used in over 3,400 schools, reaching more than 2 million children worldwide.

My experiences with bullying and bully prevention have given me insight into the important role that principals and other school leaders have in creating a positive environment for students. Imagine walking into a school as a visitor and being greeted by the principal as a fellow educator. Now imagine performing a live, upbeat assembly with hundreds of excited children who welcome you as a peer. In this unique dual role as both educator and student, I have been able to see what is really going on beneath the surface at a school, which is represented in its culture.

According to Dr. Kent D. Peterson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, school culture is “the set of norms, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols, and stories that make up the ‘persona’ of the school.” A toxic school culture is detrimental and leads to intolerance and unhappiness among all students and administrators. In contrast, a healthy one is what makes a school exceptional.

Characteristics of an Exceptional School

From my observations, the principal makes all the difference in creating a positive school culture and is the one person who can make or break a school culture. Here are some characteristics of exceptional schools that I have seen and that principals should insist upon:

  • Positive and uplifting leadership. It’s the duty of the principal to be invigorated, inspired, and invested in the spirit and the demeanor of everyone in the school. Your example will set the tone for everyone else around you. Communicate well and be an exam