Please Pass the Pepper

Just before break, I had the opportunity to record a podcast with Suzy Pepper Rollins. Suzy is the founder of, which is a community of Ed Authors sharing compelling resources. She also hosts a podcast that I had the pleasure to participate in. For the podcast, Suzy focused on one of my presentations “Leadership Lessons from Captain Kirk”, but we also got to discuss education in general and what makes our profession so special. I had a blast talking with Suzy and particularly loved hearing her Georgian accent. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation in the Q & A format that was used.

What do you love about being a principal? The fact that I get to make a difference each day and work with teachers and students.

What do you look for when searching for a positive school climate? Are people smiling? Do students and staff greet one another in the hallways? Are students actively engaged in their learning? You can tell pretty quickly what the culture of a school is and I always try to model a positive culture in all my interactions.

What are some myths about leadership? The biggest myth about leadership is the philosophy that “It’s all about me“. Leadership is about serving others and empowering those around you. Another myth is that “Leaders are born“. Leadership is about developing skills and communicating and collaborating. Never confuse charisma with leadership. Finally, we need to dispel the myth that “Leaders play it safe“. Leaders need to move past the status quo and model risk-taking.

What do you worry about as a principal? After 24 years, I still have the same worry…. balance (or the lack of it). Am I giving my family the same level of commitment as my school? Am I being fully present wherever I am and whoever I’m with? Balance is a struggle for me, but one that I’m keenly aware of and try my best to find.

What lessons did you learn from Captain Kirk? 1) Let the experts do their jobs! Kirk is not the smartest person on the ship, Spock is. Kirk can’t fix the engines, Scotty does that. Empower your staff and rely on their leadership skills while you support and motivate the team. 2) Get out of your comfort zone! Just as the mission of the Enterprise is to explore and find new worlds, our mission is to prepare students to reach their full potential in an ever-changing world. 3) Use technology! One of the most fascinating aspects of Star Trek is the technology that the show imagines. We need to utilize the technology available to us and teach students how to use these tools, but more importantly, how to be creative problem solvers who will be able to adapt to whatever technology they may use in the future. 4) Find your passion! Captain Kirk is following his calling, just as educators must follow theirs. This job is not for everyone and we need to feel it in our heart and soul that this is the what we are meant to do with our lives. 5) Do What it takes to win! Let’s face it, we like Captain Kirk because he always finds a way to win in the end. As educators, we need to do whatever it takes to make each child successful and if the conditions aren’t right, we change the conditions. Educators are innovative and often have to think outside the box.

Final Advice? Life is short!  We spend way too much time at school, not to have fun while we are here. If you are not having fun, change what you do our how you are doing it. Love what you do!

In addition to having fun while talking with Suzy, the podcast allowed me to reflect on what I believe as an educator and to recommit to living out what I believe. If you get a chance to listen to the podcast, I hope it brings you a smile and helps you reflect on what YOU believe as an educator.




“To succeed in life, you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.” – Reba McEntire

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Teddy Roosevelt

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.” – Anthony Burgess


Suzy Pepper Rollins                            John Wawczak


  • Monday, April 8Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (Integrity)
  • Tuesday, April 9: REED (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, ESY Meeting (Kurtjian) 9:50 AM, Parent Meeting (Achievement Team) 2:30 PM
  • Wednesday, April 10: Spring Pictures in the East Commons
  • Thursday, April 11: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, April 12: Science Fair in the afternoon (for participating students)
  • Saturday, April 13: Martian Marathon (for participating students & staff)




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