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Reviewed by Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers' Favorite
A Principal’s Tale: Life in 31 Days by Shelley McIntosh, Ed.D. provides an inside view of what life is like for the author, a principal of a 700-student elementary school in urban Michigan. Sandwiched between the prologue and epilogue, in which Dr. McIntosh writes a brief autobiography and explains some of her thoughts on education, are daily accounts of what transpires in her life for 31 days. These accounts are often highly detailed and they provide an amazingly clear picture describing the job of an urban principal. At the end of each day’s account, Dr. McIntosh includes a personal reflection which further illuminates her philosophy and approach to dealing with all she encounters. A Principal’s Tale may be the daily journal of the life of a principal, but it also serves as a vessel for Dr. McIntosh to articulate her educational and life philosophy. Through her writing, we see a picture of Dr. McIntosh herself, her character and her faith that sustains her.
I found A Principal’s Tale to be riveting. Simply reading about everything Dr. McIntosh accomplishes in one day makes me tired! In the course of one month she experiences multiple emergencies, deaths in her school community, a personal health crisis and way too many meetings. Regardless of what else is on the agenda, every day Dr. McIntosh intentionally sets the tone for her school and devises an inspirational message, even while making sure that each substitute teacher understands how students should be treated and mediating disagreements between staff members. She never complains, not even once, but A Principal’s Tale should serve as a wake-up call to those in authority who impose continually changing regulations and requirements on local schools. For example, teachers don’t have enough hours in a day to do everything that matters most for their students, but they have to make sure they have the correct posters on each of their walls of their classrooms and they have to adapt to continually changing requirements for how they write lesson plans. I found Dr. McIntosh to be an inspiration and I especially love how she views the students as her babies and treats them with all the love and respect they deserve. I wish I could simply clone her, but since I can’t, I hope Dr. McIntosh someday becomes a consultant, spreading the philosophy she presents in A Principal’s Tale to educators across the country.