S2E7: Northern Star

Nicole Padula-George is the proud Assistant Principal of Instruction at Mastery Charter School Gratz Prep Middle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She brings over 12 years of experience at the middle and high school levels as a teacher, instructional coach, and STEM program director. Mrs. Padula-George leads with heart, responsibility, and the mentality of putting students first. Her mindset has resulted in a track record of student growth and achievement. When not in classrooms, she enjoys time with her husband and son.

Connect with Nicole: www.linkedin.com/in/npadulageorge

“Nicole has created strong data metrics for us to pinpoint, diagnose, and correct students’ strengths and weaknesses per standard, but it isn’t as robotic as it sounds. She’s carved out a warm approach where she collaborates individually with each teacher to create unique approaches depending on a specific teacher’s strength supportedonthe very strong foundation of data. It’s a continuously iterative process. What works, what doesn’t, why does it work, why does it not, how can we adapt, how can weinnovate? She asks a lot of questions that do not dictate the methods we choose to use but she makes sure that the methods we do elect are effective.” – Lanre Anima

4 Principles of Leadership:

Let who you are be the North Star.

  • Define (Values, purpose, non-negotiables, strengths, areas of growth, learning style, conflict management style – Why am I here?), Accept (Who you are is enough)
  • Who you are guides decision making = anchor
  • Ongoing process of refinement
  • Be genuine/authentic

Be steadfast with the destination, but leave the journey open.

  • Set a clear vision
  • Communicate that vision and asks (expectations)
  • Provide a few pathways (ideas/solutions/frameworks)
  • Create opportunities and spaces for authentic input and varied collaboration (teacher/leader, teacher/teacher, teacher/culture, etc.)
    • Empower others through maximizing their strengths to share their ideas and have their individuality shine
    • People are more likely to take a risk with something they do well/confident in
    • Multiply and enhance impact by delegating -> not “doing it all” yourself
  • Do not lower the bar through the process, find another way to reach it

Listening and doing speak louder than words

  • Equal your listening and action, speak wisely
  • Ask questions (not make assumptions) to gain understanding
  • Walk the walk, not just talk the talk (with next step, collaborate/do it side by side with the teacher while still developing, not sit in classroom, behind a computer and share feedback at a later date -> urgency)
  • Be transparent and provide rationale, lean into tough conversations – connect to Brene Brown’s quote: “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind”

Pause. Celebrate. Evaluate. Fail. (Not necessarily in that order.)

  • You will not know everything. You will never and that is ok (way it should be)
  • Failure is part of the process
  • Pause to:
    • Celebrate the small wins
    • Reflect/evaluate/pulse check
    • Action (next steps)

About the Author


Robert Breyer is the “proud” principal of Cameron Elementary School in Cameron, NC. He also makes time to coach aspiring leaders who are looking to make the transition from teacher to administration. He is the host of The Guiding Principals Podcast, where he encourages visionary school leaders to share the stories of their own leadership journey and celebrates their successes along the way. Connect with Robert on his website at www.beyondthedeskleadership.com or via Twitter @rbleads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts