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Chicago Elementary Principal Offers Students A Welcoming Smile

Andrea Erickson is an elementary principal at Century Oaks Elementary School in Elgin School District U-46.  Her daily purpose is to create a continuous learning school that is focused on student success. Erickson works collaboratively with students, parents, families and staff to achieve their shared vision.

(Photo Courtesy of Andrea Erickson)

Erickson earned a Doctorate of Education in educational leadership and organizational change from Roosevelt University, Chicago, a Master of Science in educational leadership from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

"In my role as principal for Century Oaks, I am considered the chief administrator of the school. I am responsible for leading the school's daily activities to meet a shared vision of success for all students. I oversee the developing and implementation of policies, programs, curriculum activities and budgets that enhance student learning for each student and the professional growth of each staff member. I am also charged with creating and sustaining a positive school climate that explicitly recognizes and addresses the social, emotional and academic dimensions of school life. Engaging with parents, families and the community in order to work cooperatively to create learning opportunities for students is another responsibility. In addition to these, I must supervise the operations of the school building, ensuring that the facility is safe for students and staff, and that we are fiscally responsible when making purchases."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"[My favorite part of my day] is my morning and afternoon supervision duties. I love greeting our students with a smile and a positive statement to get them ready for learning.  In the afternoon, I ask the students to tell me one thing they learned. Some students are ready for the question and quickly show me a paper to describe what they learned."

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"I think my education prepared me, yet there are many aspects of the work that can only be learned in the moment. I appreciate the colleagues who have willingly given their time and expertise to answer questions when I have sought out support."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"Be a learner first then a teacher. The role of principal is lead learner and teacher."

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on


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