A Day in the Life of a RePublic Assistant Principal

Before joining the RePublic team three years ago, Darren Gray was a teacher at Simmons Junior-Senior High School in Hollandale, Mississippi. He joined RePublic’s staff as an eighth-grade literacy teacher, and he now serves as an assistant principal at Liberty Collegiate Academy. Darren sat down with me to share what a typical school day looks like for him.

5:30 a.m.
“The alarm sounds and the day begins with me getting ready for another school day. I am not a breakfast or coffee person so I pack my lunch for the day and have a glass of orange juice as I leave the house. I check my phone to make sure there are no coverage texts or emails and that all of our teachers are good to start their day.”

6:30 a.m.
“I arrive at school and begin prep for the day. Make sure that I have my calendar for the day along with planning out quick hits, which are quick action items or reminders for the day, and practice for Leader and Teacher Huddle. These huddles are opportunities to norm as a team on specific actions for the day and deliver short reminders about meetings, coverage, or actions that should happen during the day.”

7:15 a.m.
“Leader Huddle begins. Our school-based leadership team, which includes our principal, two assistant principals, director of operations, dean of community life, dean of students, and front desk receptionist, meets in a standing huddle to norm actions for the day and quick hit need to know information.”

7:25 a.m.
“Now it’s time for Lead Teacher Huddle. This time has three primary functions including getting a temperature check by being face-to-face with your entire team, delivering quick-hits and reminders/action items, and practicing a key instructional move aligned to your goal or focus for the week. These goals ladder up to our two organizational priorities of having warm and demanding classroom cultures and text-driven literacy instruction across the school.”

7:42 a.m.
“By now, I’ve transitioned to coach teachers during our arrival time and morning advisory. During this time, I will have individual check-ins with teachers and scholars to make sure they are starting their day on the right foot.”

8:15 a.m.
“I am supporting scholars as they transition to their intervention groups and begin guided or independent reading for the day. Afterward, I am coaching teachers with independent reading rooms in how to effectively lead conferences and check-ins with scholars about their reading habits.”

9:50 a.m.
“I start doing walkthroughs where I focus on coaching all STEM teachers across the building. For example, I have worked closely with our fifth-grade math team on prioritizing small group instruction and addressing student misconceptions in the moment. I not only prioritize this in planning meetings, but live-coach and co-teach with teachers in order model the actions and help make them stick, especially those actions of a warm and demanding classroom culture. My time is now divided between coverages throughout the day such as lunchroom coverage or break support, coaching teachers, and any miscellaneous things that come up such as supporting another leadership team member, supporting a scholar who might be struggling behaviorally, etc.”

3:37 p.m.
“Our main phases of dismissal are beginning and scholars are all out of the building by 4:00 p.m. Afterward, I check-in with any teachers who may need additional follow-up from any action throughout the day.“

5:00 p.m.
“By the time I get home, it is time to check off any last few items from my to-do list and catch at least 30 minutes of reading time. On days with nice weather, I walk through the neighborhoods of East Nashville. During the winter months, my time after school is usually dedicated to finding meals to cook or choosing a restaurant to go to, as well as relaxing with a healthy dose of Netflix with my cat, Olivia, on my lap.”