Rick Kaliszewski is a principal who places great value on listening to parents and taking their suggestions to heart.
When Kaliszewski took the reins as principal of Saint Albert the Great at Assumption Academy four years ago, one of his immediate initiatives was to create and introduce the Principal Panel, a collective of parents representing each grade level who help shape the everyday school experience of students and their families.
Members of the Principal Panel focus more on day-to-day operations, Kaliszewski said.
“At the onset of each school year, I ask the existing panel members if they would like to remain on for the upcoming year. I then put it out to all parents that there are open positions,” Kaliszewski said of membership. “The panel is more successful the more parents we have that represent the three different grade bands – those being Preschool through Grade 2, Grades 3-5, and sixth-eighth grade. We also have parents on the panel of alumni, as well as Fr. Justin and Al Pytel, our church business manager to represent the parish. Panel members are able to bring questions or concerns directly to me, as well as share ideas about any topic related to the daily operations of the school.”
Principal Panel meetings are held at the start of each grading quarter. Members follow an agenda with time at the end for more open discussion.
“We take the knowledge and input gained from the meetings to inform the decision-making process,” Kaliszewski said. “For example, some of the things that have been a direct result of Principal Panel include changing the gym uniform supplier to Gearin’ Up. Parents also used Principal Panel to voice dissatisfaction with the operation of picture day and the quality of the yearbooks, so we have changed vendors to Jostens. During the height of the pandemic, this panel was vital in providing feedback to the numerous policies and procedures.”
Principal Panel exists in part to give parents a platform for productively sharing concerns, taking reasonable action, and improving the school community together with leadership.
“If there is something that is not working, then this panel helps to find solutions. If something is working, then this panel helps voice the praise so I an appropriately direct it at the staff,” Kaliszewski said. “This communication is just one small part of the partnership we have between school and families. Afterall, it is the hearts of the students that we carry with us each day, and when we work together, they are the winner.”