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Reviewed by Randy B. Lichtman for Readers' Favorite
A Principal’s Tale: A Self Determined Leader by Shelley Mackintosh, Ed.D. is an excellent book for educators at all levels, whether administrators or teachers, as it shares tools with examples of how to provide a well-rounded and caring education for students. Dr. Shelley Mackintosh begins the book with the premise that students are best served using the model of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), highlighting three important areas for growth: the needs for autonomy (independence), connection to others (relatedness), and competence (success and mastering their environment).
It is especially interesting to see things from the point of view of a principal who was given a performing arts school in the East Side of Detroit “in a changing and transient predominantly African American Population.” She sets the scenes of a very economically challenged city of Detroit as the background for her noble efforts to provide a supportive and growth-oriented education for her students. Each “Reality” (also considered a chapter), focuses on a challenge or supporting activity based on reality. These include bullying, behavior problems during lunches, lack of understanding of the principal’s role by teachers and students, student’s lack of familiarity with the administrative team, curtailing excessive early pickup of students, and many others. Each Reality is explained, followed by a practical Resolution on how that reality is dealt with effectively, a Reflection Statement summarizing how the Reality and Resolution, and finally a Reflection Question for the reader to consider in his or her own lives and school settings. The Self-Determination Theory is well interwoven while also challenging the reader to consider his or her own values and behavior in education.
Even for non-educators, A Principal’s Tale by Shelley Mackintosh, Ed.D is an excellent book to consider leadership in any industry, especially in orienting and managing employees, serving the customer (the students and their parents), and the importance of quality and maintaining a strong moral compass while dealing with all levels of administration. I highly recommend it for educators to consider how to implement principles in their own schools. The reflection questions can be very good discussion tools. I would also suggest it as a supplementary book for an education methods course in a college or university course. Excellent book!