By Teri Poff
When Collin Buckley was in elementary and high school his experience was not always a smooth one. “I wasn’t much fun for most of my school years, but I can name distinct teachers and one administrator that saw through my behavior and saw a kid worth investing in,” Collin recalled. Collin believes that his school experience resulted in his passion to help students build solid, healthy relationships with adults because, “That is one of the best ‘gifts’ we can give them.”
As an educator, Collin wanted to expand his leadership beyond the classroom to develop a school culture where all teachers, staff and administrators worked to build relationships and help all students get what they need to achieve academically. So Collin accepted the position of Dean of Students at Nooksack Valley High School in Nooksack, WA and entered the CityU Principal Certification Program
During his Principal Certification Program internship, he led a school initiative to improve student attendance. Collin worked collaboratively with Principal Matt Galley and a newly formed attendance team to establish a “culture of attendance.” They implemented student recognitions, daily messaging, and competitions between advisories. They developed tiered intervention strategies and a community truancy board. But the cornerstone to building a culture of attendance was connecting students with critical adults by improving student-teacher relationships, creating outside mentorships, and increasing family involvement with student attendance. The school efforts have paid off and are continuing to do so; in the 2017-2018 school year, overall chronic absenteeism was reduced by 10%!
Collin completed his Principal Certification Program through CityU (in year) and is now the Assistant Principal at Nooksack Valley High School. Collin affirms that his program at CityU and his internship experience helped him define his role and voice as a leader, giving him the skills and confidence to take on and sustain new initiatives such as the “culture of attendance.”
Collin chose CityU because of its strong reputation and because of the flexibility it offered through online course work. When he began at CityU, Collin expected a quality program. What he did not expect was the added benefit of interacting with his CityU cohort through online seminars and discussion boards. He learned about experiences and perspectives from fellow CityU classmates working in rural, urban, and suburban school settings from across the state and country. “I learned from people who have very different experiences and contexts from me,” Collin noted. “I think it gave me a better understanding of how to meet the needs of kids from different communities and prepare me for new situations and challenges.”
Collin Buckley (above), Assistant Principal at Nooksack Valley HS 2019
Teri Poff serves as the Associate Program Director for Educational Leadership Program at City University of Seattle.≈