Rich Norris' Experience in the PRN

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My name is Rich Norris and I graduated from the PRN 2019 graduating cohort. I am currently an assistant principal at 360 High School in Providence, Rhode Island.

I am very calculated in the moves I make in my life and career. So the PRN was a well researched decision and it has been one that has made a very positive impact in my life, and by extent, in the lives of students and families in my community. I was looking for a program that made school leadership come to life. I did not want to sit in a class and get the theoretical approach for the majority of the time. I wanted to be an active participant in my own development as a school leader; the PRN did exactly that. I was engaged and was put through the gauntlet to earn my place in where I am at now. I was able to lead and see the big picture of school leadership. I greatly appreciate this aspect of the program. I got to test theory on a daily basis and was able to implement change in my school during my internship. I was able to get a deep sense of what the job requires and to begin to build the mental toughness and acquire the skills I would need to sustain myself in order to serve students and families.

For me this opportunity to be in my cohort allowed me to build relationships with people who were current mentor principals and retired school leaders, the instructors at PRN, and my cohort. These relationships have already started to pay dividends because I can reach out to any one of these entities for assistance.  In this regard, it isn’t necessarily any one moment that stands out, but it’s a series of small things. From nights in the library with my cohort, school visits, learning about each other families and experiences, to playing basketball together with one of my cohort mates; these instances helped me see the scope of the work and taught me about people.

If I could take anything away from this experience it would be that no one school leader has the answer and that a network is a valuable source of support to get this work done. With the current state of education, especially in Rhode Island, we will all need to rely on each other to make this right for kids and their families. Having a program that puts you at the forefront of decision making, challenges, and really testing your will-I think nothing beats this.

For those thinking of applying to be the PRN, my most important advice would be that the individuals are in it for the right reasons. This work is about transforming communities for the better, especially marginalized ones. This work requires you to give your all daily. It can be grueling and the answers are not readily available but each day you must serve with diligence and persistence, and retain a conviction that all students can succeed. Your role as a school leader sets the tone for what communities can look like when students leave your care and return to their neighborhoods as adults. You must be fully invested or you will not make it. Understand that you are not alone and you will be in a community of learners who will be there to help guide you. You can do this work if you believe you can transform lives. I know no better way to positively impact communities than through education.

Curious? What might your PRN leadership journey look like in the near future?

Click here to find out more about the PRN