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Earlier this week principals from the Escambia County (FL) School District joined Studer Education for a Leadership Development Institute (LDI). Different groups of 5 – 7 principals met over four days for a breakfast meeting (7:30-9:00 a.m.) to focus on time and communication. The purposes of this LDI were managing time across all pillars of excellence (Quality, People, Service, and Finance) and improving interaction with parents (communication within the Service Pillar). We began, however, by inviting each principal to share one “win” from last semester when the focus was on communication with students (again, communication within the Service Pillar). One of our principal partners, Eric Smith, shared how The No Name Show is winning with students at West Florida High School (WFHS).

The No Name Show grew from Mr. Smith’s awareness that what he does affects West Florida High School, its teachers and staff, and students and parents. No Name began as a way of connecting with students – improving WFHS by focusing on the Service Pillar of excellence – by creating a culture of excellence where students want to learn because they want to improve and see the value in creating a school environment in which everyone is working from the same frame of reference. That is, Principal Smith sensed a pathway to student “ownership” through a “no name” beginning: Students did not necessarily know his name… or that he was the principal of their school… or that he could help them with what they needed. In fact, he was nameless and position-less in interactions with them.

In view of the perceived lack of connection with students Mr. Smith created a TV show which he hosts out of his office. The show began as The No Name Show, a reference to its “no name” beginning. During the show he talks with and highlights students at WFHS including athletes and national merit scholars. Now students see their principal in the hallway or at a school event or in the community and say, “Hey Mr. Smith, when’s the next No Name Show?” and “Mr. Smith, I think you should talk to… for our next No Name Show.” As a result of The No Name Show students are connecting with their principal and with a name; in addition, Mr. Smith is communicating with students about people and issues which are important to them.

The “name the No Name Show” discussion among students at WFHS was a success even though Mr. Smith’s show continues as The No Name Show. The students agreed that No Name was best. However, it was a success because students realized that the name of the show is not as important as the name of the person behind the show; the name behind the show matters… and they know Principal Smith. Students highlight their connection with Mr. Smith in their 2011-12 yearbook preview “Confused parents and students look to Principal Smith for guidance…” Principal Smith’s No Name Show recognizes and rewards student success and creates positive communication and a positive relationship between him and WFHS students.

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West Florida High School of Advanced Technology is located in Pensacola, Florida. WFHS is an innovative high school focused on providing a unique, comprehensive, useful education that will lead to lifelong personal, career, and professional accomplishments (website). Check out their school and events, as well as the student newspaper at http://www.wfhs.net/index.htm.

Studer Education works with institutions of higher education and school districts throughout the United States to assist leaders and employees with creating great places for people to work by achieving goals that help educational institutions achieve excellence. For more information about Leadership Development Institutes and Evidence-Based Leadership visit us online at http://studereducation.com.