Official SPA photo
Theresa Collins moved to Minnesota from Chicago to take the US Principal position: met with so much new, and so much hope.
“I feel happy every day when I come to work. Being a principal is something that I’ve been thinking about and wanting to do for quite some time,” Collins said “To set a goal and then achieve it is always very exciting; I feel gratified that has had that this is, this is like this is my life now.”
Walking into a new job, not knowing what to expect can be scary, but Collins is grateful for this new environment and opportunity to learn.
“I’m grateful for all of the people that I’m working with and the things that I learn every single day,” she said. “I’m finding out that that there are things that I knew I could do and that I’m good at, and I’m seeing myself utilize those skills, organization planning, communication feedback strategy… all those things.”
Collins also knows that part of stepping into a leadership position means observing to more deeply understand school culture: “There are things that I need to learn more about, right? Those tend to be more specific to this particular community,” she said.
Collins was an English teacher and department head at her previous school in Chicago. The transition from classroom to main office is not an easy task, but she finds it fun.
“Being a principal, it’s like you’re spinning a whole lot of plates simultaneously,” Collins said. “I find that really exciting and my days are busy: I come in and I have meetings…” she stopped and said, “I’m hoping to have more meetings with students like yourself.”
At the start of any year, conversations of balance — for students and faculty and the principal — come up. On the topic, Collins said, “I think any time you’re brand new at a job or in a school, there’s just so much more that you have to absorb and get used to. Where I feel stressed is when I’m sensing that I’m not getting enough sort of head-down sustained work time.”
Students can likely relate to stressors Collins names. “I feel stressed because whenever I feel like, ‘Ooh, There’s something that I should have been working on, and I’m feeling a little pressed about it and I’m realizing I don’t have exactly enough time, so I need to figure out how to get more time back’.” she said.
To find balance, she makes time to participate in a variety of activities outside.
“One of the things that I do without fail in the morning is I walk my poodle Addo. Then in the evening, without fail, I walk my poodle Otto. No matter what is going on, the bookends of my day are with him and that’s because he’s just a dog and he is amazing and all he wants to do is have a good time.” Collins said.
Family is large part of Collins’ life. Part of de-stressing includes calling her husband every night: “My husband and I are in a commuter marriage right now so every evening at seven o’clock we’re on the phone, having a chat just about the day and just kind of talking to each other about how things are going. That’s been a really nice ritual.”
Collins moved closer to Minnesota family: “I’m lucky that my sister lives close by; I’m a six minute walk away from her and I love to go and sit on her front porch with our dogs. Having some family time at the ready whenever I want or need it is another way to keep that work-life balance,” Collins said.
In her first month of leading the upper school, Collins has focused heavily on student outreach and faculty connection.