Gee emphasizes leading by example
Third of four CHS principal candidates interviewed by stakeholders
February 24, 2014
A self-described "quick learner," Doug Gee said he brings something to the table that can't be taught - a strong work ethic.
"Give me an initiative you want done, and I will get it done," he said, adding that he is nearly always the first person at school in the morning and the last person to leave. "My energy and excitement can drive staff and students to a higher level - I lead by example."
Gee is currently assistant principal and activities director in the Adel DeSoto Minburn Community School District in Adel. Prior to taking his current position six years ago, he taught math and coached a variety of sports including football, track, softball and wrestling at three other high schools with enrollments ranging from 115 to 2,000 students.
Gee is the third candidate being considered for the open Carroll High School principal position that was vacated by Steve Haluska two weeks into the current school year. Current CHS assistant principal Tammie McKenzie was interviewed Tuesday, and former agriculture teacher and Central Lee principal was interviewed Wednesday. The final candidate, Webster City High School principal John Elkin, will be interviewed today.
According to Gee, visibility is the most-important characteristic, and communication the most-important skill, for a high school principal.
In his current position, he arrives at school early to respond to emails so he can finish and be in the halls to greet students and teachers by the time they arrive. He also spends two days a week visiting classrooms, working to get into every room for at least five or six minutes.
"If teachers know I'm around, they're going to be on top of their game," said Gee, who looks for student engagement. "I have very high expectations of myself and my staff, and that will permeate to the students."
Service work and involvement in local organizations is a way to communicate with parents and community members, signaling approachability and a willingness to listen, said Gee, who works with the Kiwanis and Lions clubs in the ADM district.
"Leadership is relationships," he said. "If we can't build them with students, staff, parents, community members, it's tough to move in the direction we want to move."
The high school recently implemented a humanitarian graduation cord, requiring students to complete at least 140 community service hours, with only 20 hours with any individual organization. Gee's work with local groups is one more way to lead by example, he added.
A modern high school principal must also embrace technology, said Gee, citing social media as a key tool to promote a school and its programs. He is currently more active on Facebook than Twitter but is familiar with both platforms.
He views the one-to-one initiative at Carroll High School as a great opportunity, provided teachers have training on classroom management and incorporation of the devices into the classroom to ensure the devices don't become a distraction for learning. He also highlighted the importance of training students on the proper use of the devices and social-media programs, citing a program implemented at ADM this year that shows examples of cyberbullying and clearly states that such actions will not be tolerated, on or off school grounds.
Gee said his most significant career achievement to date has been the increase of both the number of students participating in activities at ADM and their grade-point averages.
He credits this success partly to a mandatory tutoring program in which students with failing or incomplete grades are tutored during their free period and unable to participate in extracurricular activities until they raise their grades. Students who aren't failing are also free to avail themselves of tutoring.
The district was a Blue Ribbon school during Gee's first year and was recently ranked Iowa's seventh-best high school by U.S. News and World Report. The Iowa Department of Education awards Blue Ribbon recognition to schools for achieving superior standards of academic excellence. The ADM district also has a relationship with nonprofit Project Lead the Way, which provides science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, recently introducing a biomedical strand of classes.
The last two books Gee read were John Maxwell's "The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork" and Mark Tabb's "The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story."
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